Paying your dues

This post comes hand in hand with my previous post regarding compensation for your work and what kind of work is worth working for.

Vanessa, from MMAAC, is a clever lady. She makes really unusual stuff to sell through her Etsy shop, and we've become quite friendly over twitter. Upon reading my post on Friday, Vanessa said:

@MMAAC: @rockandpurl Question! At what point, as a newbie, do you STOP taking free/low paying work? I understand paying dues but at what point does it stop?

Original Tweet link

Paying dues… Paying dues is nothing other than this industry's way around an unpaid internship.

In my opinion, getting paid for your work comes from doing the work that needs doing to ensure the product is worth getting paid for.

Sounds simple, no?

Have you ever worked at an office? I am sure if you have, you know who I am about to mention: The Faux Slacker. The Faux Slacker looks busy. TFS always walks around in a hurry, they are important. They ferry papers. They always wait by the printer. TFS seems to be full of nervous energy that…. Miraculously never transforms into workload being done.

If the world were fair, TFS should not be paid for doing that job, since you may well be doing the same job (actually more, since TFS's workload needs doing by someone). Actually if the works were fair, your manager would have eyes and notice the difference in output between TS and others, and fire them. But in any case, I digress.

When you work hard and on target, you're supposed to get paid.

In the designers world, working hard and on target translates into:

  • Designing a good concept.
  • Choosing the right yarn.
  • Photographing the object in an appealing manner.
  • Writing the pattern in a clear instructive way that a reader can follow.
  • Size the pattern and calculate accurate figures for stitch count, measurements…
  • Get the pattern edited by a technical editor, who will improve your instructions, point out ways to make your pattern better and correct any math gone awry.
  • Put it all together in a document that people can download and print without issues.
  • Publicize (not spam….) your product adequately in the correct channels. This means, don't go promoting your latest shawl in a no-promotion forum. Don't advertise your new design on another designers forum without consent. Advertise to YOUR audience and through the audience of others's channels that you've been allowed to use.

If at any point you've missed any of these checks… Your work is not worth being paid for.

But once you've crossed all the T's and dotted all the I's, and you are confident the product is professional in quality and beautiful enough to release into the world, you are ready.

The fake sense of needing to tread through mud before you're allowed to reach the water is something that needs to be shed.

However, I am curious as to WHERE the idea of paying your dues comes from.

Whether you've worked in this industry for a while, or are just taking your first steps… I want to know!

What exactly made you think you should “pay your dues”?
How does that make you feel?
Do you agree with my points above? Let's discuss!!