When you work in a “gig economy” like most artists do, you don’t often have a consistent day-to-day income.
That’s why freelancers tend to be a little more cautious with how and where they spend their money.
The pandemic has really heightened this, where people are vigilantly watching their pennies more than ever.
All of that being said, there’s an old adage that still rings true.
You have to spend money to make money.
For example, if you don’t pay for voice lessons, you don’t develop the voice needed to book work.
The same goes for your marketing materials and the tools needed to do your job.
This is easier said than done, though. It’s hard to watch those funds leave our bank accounts.
There’s a lot of stress in trying to figure out where your money should go. It usually boils down to one central question.
Is this going to be a waste of money or worthwhile?
Well, there actually IS a way to figure that out! This little hack will help you make purchase decisions with ease.
Look at the value you’d receive versus the cost you would pay.
Let me define that even further for ya:
Value = Something you gain.
Cost = Something you lose.
If we focus on what something costs, we’re only analyzing what we’re losing. Instead, see if the value of what you will gain outweighs that.
In business terms, this is known as ROI, meaning “return on investment.”
Whenever the ROI is high, you can rest easy that you’re making a wise decision.
Avoiding Sticker Shock
The biggest mistake I see artists make when it comes to investing in their careers is letting their sticker shock run the show.
Anytime anything feels expensive, they just write it off without any consideration.
The funny thing about sticker shock is it’s absolutely subjective. A $20 dance class seems like a huge bargain to some people, but to others it seems way too steep.
There is no set dollar amount that is factually too expensive. If the value to someone is higher than the cost, the price seems reasonable to them.
Definitely be mindful of this sticker stock syndrome. If you hear those internal voices start to rise up and talk you out of something, pause them for a moment and consider the value of the purchase.
You may still come to the same conclusion that the ROI is too low for you to pay that amount of money. If so, great! Move on!
But you won’t risk missing out on something that could’ve really helped you just because of an arbitrary perception of the number on the price tag.
Determining Value and Cost
Before we can compare value vs cost, we need to know how to actually determine those two things.
Cost is the easy one. It’s literally just the actual price. The only time it gets slightly tricky is if it’s some sort or recurring cost like a monthly or annual rate.
To keep it simple, just compare apples to apples. If it’s a monthly rate, stick with a monthly comparison—the monthly value vs the monthly cost.
As for figuring out the value, there are a few ways to do it.
- Look at what you are specifically receiving. How much time are you saving by having a video pro edit your reel? How much new information are you walking away with after that class? How much would that outfit affect your confidence in your auditions or pitch meetings?
- Compare and contrast. How many group coachings equal one private lesson? Factor in related costs like travel when making that comparison. For that same total price, which scenario will allow you to advance more? How much time is actually spent on you when in a group setting?
- Break it down when you can. If a photoshoot is going to provide you with 5 final photos, and you know you’re going to use them for your headshots, website, program bios, press releases, and social media, you’re really getting 25 uses from the shoot (5 photos X 5 uses).
By the way, you can utilize the “break it down” idea with the cost, too. Using the same example, if that photoshoot cost $1,000, you’re effectively paying $40 per use ($1000 / 25 uses).
That will reduce any temptation of sticker shock—$40 per use is more digestible than a flat $1,000.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
There’s one major thing to keep in mind as you compare value vs cost.
The ultimate ROI is when it pays you back time and time again.
Specifically, is this going to book you more work? Or even better, higher-paying work?
All of the things you spend money on should enhance your artistic mission in some way.
Don’t be tempted by something just because it’s a great deal. Always tie it back to the value it will bring your career.
As long as you’re doing that, and comparing value vs cost, you’ll never be stymied by purchasing decisions again!