When you think about working with a creative content professional to boost your brand or business, there are probably two things that immediately come to mind:

First: “I’m going to get a personalized product that perfectly fits my business and brand!”

And: “Holy crap! This is expensive!”

If you were to order something like a customized ceramic pet food bowl from an artisan potter, you expect to pay more than you would for a similar product from, say, Walmart or PetSmart. You might pay three or four times more for a bowl that’s made without toxic chemicals or has a color scheme that you picked and your pet’s name etched into the side.

The same rule applies when you are in the market for intangible creative products, like photos, design work or custom content.

It’s hard to value creative intangibles when you’ve never shopped the market for them before. Often, people imagine that creative work should only cost them a little more than an out of the box product, like a subscription to a drag-and-drop web builder (Weebly, Wix, Squarespace), for example.

And unfortunately, the internet – which connects businesses and individuals to any type of creative professional we could ever imagine – does a lot to devalue the hard work that creatives put into the products that they offer. This is a huge problem.

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What Happens When Businesses Devalue Creative Work?

As a writer, I spend a small portion of my time browsing writing job postings to stay on top of emerging niches and content types that companies are requesting. Every time, I come away from this exercise totally ticked off and ranting about how little people value the hard work that they’re requesting.

Many businesses looking for creative content are asking for incredibly detailed, professional products that will bring thousands of dollars of business to their brands, but don’t want to pass that value along to the creatives that will propel their brand. Creative job boards are chock full of postings requesting highly technical, researched written content for less than one cent a word.

And this is certainly not a plight of writers alone. Photographers, graphic designers, web developers and other creative professionals are also often expected to work for pennies on the hour for professional quality content.

To make matters worse, most of these “jobs” are available on job boards (like Upwork or Freelance.com) that siphon a percentage of earnings, leaving creatives with very little to show for the hours they put into fulfilling their customers’ requests. Sadly, many creatives think that this is the only way to break into the work that they want to do and end up snagging up the work, leaving businesses to think that their unfair prices are reasonable.

This perpetuates a culture of businesses devaluing the hard work that creatives do to bring in new revenue for their brands. When 10 businesses on Upwork get away with paying freelance graphic designers $25 for a logo or startup web designers $100 for a website, then all of the sudden the market thinks that creatives requesting higher prices (that allow them to pay their bills and earn a competitive hourly wage) are trying to rip them off.

Not only does this hurt creatives who are trying to earn livings or supplement their incomes, but it hurts businesses sourcing creative content as well. Here’s how:

Poorly funded creative projects are poorly executed.

A design project with a minuscule budget doesn’t adequately compensate the creative for his or her time. This means that the creative is forced to cut corners and choose low- or no-cost solutions for developing the product. Additionally, the creative is going to try to finish the work in as little time as possible, since he or she could make more per hour flipping burgers than pursuing his/her passion.

Poorly funded creative projects attract low-quality talent.

Most creatives who recognize the value of their talents won’t touch a project that is below their price range. This means that a low-budget project is only going to attract new creatives or ones who aren’t particularly qualified to do the work.

While there’s nothing wrong with taking a chance on a newbie (everyone starts somewhere), there is often a significant difference in the quality of their work when compared with that of an experienced creative professional. Low quality work often means revisions or a finished product that’s less than satisfying. Businesses can save money and time on revisions if they simply search for quality talent in the first place.

Low-quality content scares customers away.

Businesses that showcase low-quality content because they don’t want to pay for professional creative content stick out like a sore thumb. Their ineptitude is on full display when customers view the poor content when they browse a shoddily designed website or look at a slapdash brochure. While some customers will overlook off-putting content, others will move on to competitors without a backward glance.

It’s not good enough to simply have a web presence – it needs to be showcase quality. Likewise, it’s not good enough to simply have pictures for the site or printed materials – photos need to be professionally shot and edited. Just because someone can wield a code snippet or camera doesn’t meant that they should do so.

What is the Value of Creative Work?

Everyone is looking for a bargain, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In every transaction, it’s reasonable to look for a way to get the most return from the least investment possible.

When it comes to paying for creative work, there are certainly different price points and values associated with them. And sure, there are definitely creatives out there who oversell and under deliver.

Businesses looking for creative content should not only establish a budget for a creative project, but an outline of what exactly they’re looking for. For example, a blog with a bunch of short posts and no marketing purpose isn’t going to bring new customers and new revenue through the door.

On the other hand, a blog with a clear purpose, well-written posts and meaningful calls to action will attract new readers and should generate a reader to client that translates into sales and a fatter bottom line. A clear understanding of the content that a creative professional can deliver should better inform the project budget.

If a business doesn’t have much of a budget to sink into a creative professional, it may be better for the business to look internally for someone to handle the extra tasks, rather than sourcing low-budget projects to creatives who may or may not know what they’re doing. Or it may be better yet to hold off on the project – like a new website – until a true professional can tackle it, rather than risk compromising brand quality and presence.

At its essence, creative work should propel a brand forward, not hold it back. This is worth paying for.

There is theoretically no limit to the amount of revenue that well-executed creative work can generate. Of course, well-written content isn’t going to sell itself – that’s why it’s important to seek proposals only after a marketing strategy is put into place. But good creative content should play its role in a revenue generating strategy.

When it comes to creative work, you often get what you pay for. The difference in quality between a $15 blog post and a $500 blog post is astounding. Sure, the $15 one costs less now, but the grammar errors, lack of SEO integration and limited research are going to cost you sales later on. Unless the writer enjoys working at minimum wage and can churn the content out in less than an hour, there’s no way you’re compensating him fairly for his time. And that’s just not cool.

How Might Creative Content Propel Your Brand?

Now that the luster of the new year and lofty resolutions have worn off, you might find your brand is hitting a bit of a creative rut. Just because Q1 is nearly at its end doesn’t mean it’s too late to invest in your marketing strategy – especially if your numbers aren’t lining up with what your ambitious January planning might have anticipated.

Creative content is essential to the 2018 marketing plan. This year, customers are looking for well-researched, long form blog posts, gorgeous websites and sleek graphics (preferably featuring colors like Millennial Pink and Pantone’s color of the year: Ultraviolet).

Is your brand offering them these things?

Are the creatives you’re working with bringing tangible value to your brand through the intangibles that they deliver?

Here at Rystedt Creative, we pride ourselves on offering top-notch creative content at competitive prices. We have experience in delivering quality creative content that helps the businesses we work with propel their brands and improve their online presences. And if you want something we don’t offer, we are happy to connect you with creative professionals who do.

If you’re curious about how we can help you improve your business’s online presence, contact us for a free consultation and website evaluation. We’ll let you know where your website is doing awesome, and where you might want to make some improvements. Our business is helping you build yours, whether you’re just starting out or are trying to reach new markets.

Working with a creative firm means that your creative content is backed by people who really want you to succeed. Sure, our prices aren’t what you might be able to pay for a freelancer on Upwork or Freelance.com, but your end products aren’t going to be low-quality intangibles that require revisions or reworking because they don’t work the way they’re supposed to.

Your content should work for your brand – not against it. If you need help developing a creative content strategy to meet your branding goals, let us know.