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Knowing Your Worth

Updated: May 19, 2019

A guide to knowing your worth when working on a commissioned project



Recently, I was commissioned to work on a project for a creator in the Arizona valley.


Before I could begin, we had to discuss the topic that some individuals don't feel comfortable bringing up: how much will you be paid for your services?


As a designer, draftswoman, and constructor of some of the pieces for this project, I have to take into consideration my time, skill level, and the amount of labor that I will put into this project. Yes, I am still a student studying my craft at Arizona State University, but I have the experience that this project entails. My classes within the past two years have covered a wide range of skills (from Drafting to Materials) that allows me to feel confident enough to say, "Yes, Neaco, you can do this."


So, when discussing your payment, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. What hourly rate am I willing to accept?

I like to keep in mind the minimum wage in my state (Arizona's is $10.50 an hour), but a good base pay is $15-18 an hour. In my costuming class, my professor preached that no one should get paid less than $15 an hour for their skilled labor. She believes we should value our skills and time and that it is crucial that everyone advocates for good pay for commissioners to realize the value of what we bring to the table.

2. How many hours am I putting into this project?

If you're being paid a stipulated amount of money then it is important to calculate the amount of work you will be putting into the overall project. Hypothetically, you could be paid $200 and put in 10 hours and get $20 an hour, or work over 45 hours on a project and only come out with $4.45 an hour. Be aware of the scope of the project you are agreeing to accept.

3. What is the cost-benefit of the work I am being commissioned to complete?

If your hourly rate does not end up being above minimum wage then take into consideration the other costs and benefits the project may provide. Do you expand your network? Can this be a part of your portfolio? Can you learn something new through the process? Is it something you will enjoy creating? Is this an opportunity that will never come up again?


Keep these questions in mind when discussing your payment for a commissioned project.


Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself because it is important to know your worth.

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