Pricing and the Value of Creativity

by Michelle Hunter

We struggle to price creative services because we aren’t thinking properly about the value of the creativity we share with the world.


Creative entrepreneurs have a unique challenge in the business world. We must assign a value to creativity – setting a price for something subjective that’s often difficult to define and quantify. We are called upon to monetize our internal “special something” and package it up for others to purchase. Pretty tough stuff…

What is the value of YOUR creativity?

If you’re like me, this is a question you ask often. You ponder your work and try to evaluate it through the lens of another’s needs or impressions. Like me, you potentially consider the time it takes to create and the materials that go into this outpouring of your soul.

Eventually, you might settle on a number in your mind… but often, it doesn’t sit well.

So, we survey the marketplace and think about the cost of similar services. When we find similar offerings at rock-bottom prices, we feel challenged. After all, who are we to charge more for the same work? Or, we notice features we normally don’t include in our service packages. Feeling insecure, we add them to our work in a hope that we can justify the price that feels right to us.

But we never really find a satisfactory answer to the question, “What is my work really worth to the world?”

I’ve realized that we struggle because we aren’t thinking clearly about creativity in the first place. Let’s change that, shall we?

Creativity is the way YOU see things.

Creativity is the sum of your unique perspective, your experiences in life, your vision. Creativity is your ability to recognize passion in someone else and explore it. Creativity is the way your work acts as a catalyst to enhance the passion you find in others, add richness and depth, and translate it into a visual image or message or expression.

Creativity is your ability to share the passion you see with the world in a perfect, engaging way.

Creativity is more than the time it takes to get things right, though we often value it that way. Design is so much more than careful attention to detail, technical skill, and an eye for color or line. Writing is more than grammar and mechanics, tone and lexicon. Artistic expression is more than technique or tools, materials or training.

Creativity is the sum total of who you are, used to communicate and engage with all who see your work.

Creative work is sensory. It’s visual, emotional, and thoughtful at the same time- infusing the tangible with the abstract to express meaning and develop richness and nuance. The connections your work creates- emotionally, relationally, intellectually- are powerful and priceless.

Creative people often miss the true value of the work.

We create naturally, just knowing what works. We build upon natural talent we’ve always enjoyed, and create as an expression that we can’t help but share.

Writing is how I process emotion and unravel the complexity of my life. It’s how I relate to others, connect concepts with meaning, and recharge my depleted positivity during difficult times. Writing is an essential part of my life… even if it weren’t my chosen work, writing would still fill my days.

Maybe design is natural for you… or crafting, or quilting. Perhaps you are drawn to painting or pottery, music or dance. The medium may be different, but the call is the same.

Like me, you’ve taken this talent and used it to create a business. Together we intuitively feel the path to perfection… refining our work, improving our thinking, and manipulating the features and components of our package until what we create is filled with richness and beauty. When what we create resonates in our hearts, we know we have it right.

The creative process is simple for us, yet complex. It flows from us like magic; leaving us awed and strangely drained. We’re inspired by what we’ve created, proud of our abilities, and settled in the rightness of it.

But since it feels so natural, so right… we can miss the value. How do you put a value on creativity that brings such joy?

Clients bring complexity to creativity.

When creativity becomes our business, things become complicated. We create. We perfect. We refine. We feel done… but we’re not.

The difficult revision process comes next- sharing the design, the writing, the custom piece with the client who requested the project and expects collaboration inside our creativity.

To us the work may seem nearly perfect. But the client’s preferences have to play a role. They ask for changes, make suggestions, and demand a voice- at times even making our work weaker in our eyes while it becomes stronger in their own.

Our creation changes… becoming something different than our intention. Sometimes we rejoice in the collaboration, but sometimes we grieve.

The simple truth is this – – > Our creation isn’t ours once we share it with a client.

It becomes a product we trade for a payment and release to the world for use in ways outside our control. Clients can cherish our work with reverence. But they can also adjust it, ruin it, and misunderstand the meaning. Sometimes they just don’t get it… and that is okay. Once we accept payment, we give up control.

Pricing creativity is placing a value on a piece of ourselves.

The time we invest in the work and the significance of our process is only one factor to consider as we price. The true value of creativity is found in the magic… the essential something only we possess. The true cost is in the release of our creation to a client who will use it to fuel their success.

Selling creative work is more than a simple transaction. More than “I create, they buy, we part company.” Collaborative creative work is a step together into the future. We partner with our clients in all they will become. Our creativity becomes part of the engine that drives their dreams forward into unlimited possibility.

Consider this. Are your client’s values compatible with your own? Do you believe in their dreams? Do not EVER beg a client to work with you. You’re worth SO MUCH more than that. Don’t sell your creative energy to someone you don’t respect. Protect your creative value, honor it as an intrinsic part of you.

Charge confidently for the value only you can provide.

What is your work worth? It’s worth the exact price that gives you peace. The price that allows you to release it happily, knowing your client values it as the wonderful creation that it is. The price that honors who you are and the passion and energy you bring to the work. The value that equals the respect and wonder you have for the talent and ability inside you. Don’t compromise… listen to your heart.

Honor your own work in the way you talk about what you do. You aren’t “just a designer” or “just a writer” or “just an artist”. When you belittle yourself in this way, you are not actually expressing humility. You are demonstrating a lack of appreciation in who you are… expressing a subtle form of self-hatred with the world.

There may be areas where you can improve. That’s natural. You might have work you regret, creative choices you question, and techniques you’ve tried, but not mastered. That’s also quite natural and normal. Don’t lessen your own value by focusing on these things. Recognize the incredible value inside of you, even as you identify opportunities for improvement.

Choose your clients carefully. Not everyone is worthy to experience your brilliance. Not everyone understands the value you create or appreciates the empowerment they receive through collaboration with you. That’s okay… people who don’t get it are not your people. Be brave enough to walk away, even when the money is good or the project seems interesting.

Be selective, but balance your selectivity with generosity. Choose clients you can serve with open hands and an open heart. No reservations, just full creative collaboration and a shared enthusiasm for the goals of your work together. Let instinct guide you. If you feel hesitation or resistance, be brave enough to walk away.

Your creativity is your gift to the world. Appreciate its value.

Are you playing small? Hesitating to market your services or share your prices? Stop overthinking and analyzing. Stop doubting yourself and listening to imposter syndrome or your inner critic. Quit valuing the opinions of those who don’t understand more than the praise of past clients or fellow creatives.

Your creativity is your priceless gift to the world. The work you create blesses all of us with a glimpse into your vision of life and your understanding of meaning. Embrace the value of your creativity… appreciate it and protect it… and price your services accordingly.

Want to significantly increase your pricing (along with profitability and margin)? Create a focused marketing strategy and implement it consistently.  Not sure where to start? Let’s Talk.

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