Steak House Service at 2-for-1 Taco Night Price

I haven’t been happy with how my work’s gone lately. I’ve been trying to blog it out–figure out what the Hell I’m doing wrong, what isn’t working for me to fix it–and mostly find I end up sounding (and feeling) like a big whiny-ass, if you wanna know the truth.

I’m working too much overall and not making enough for it. I am doing lot of production work, and very little working on my business–making it better, offering new products, improving service. This is all stuff I dig–planning, executing, and marketing.¬† I haven’t had time or energy to learn new skills or follow the trends–all stuff I enjoyed. I’m not so much digging on the pushing pixels, unless the reason why I’m pushing pixels buzzes me. And to be honest, if it’s pushing pixels for somebody else’s project, it usually doesn’t buzz me much anymore.

I get discouraged sometimes. I don’t feel my efforts are valued. People look for me to tell them how to (easily and with no special training) do what I’ve been charging to do for them. Many expect me to be able to explain it in a short email, for Godssakes. ((At least it’s been a while since anybody asked me what book they needed to buy to do my job. Now they ask what software to buy instead. )) They ask questions they (often rightly) assume I can answer much more easily than they can–which is fine–but kind of miss the reason why I can answer them easily is because I have spent many years learning my trade and, uh, well…kinda expect to be paid for my expertise. At least some of the time. Even an offer would be nice.

Now, I don’t expect everyone to get how hard my job is sometimes, or to understand exactly how much I invest¬† into doing it to the best of my ability. (Hint: It’s a lot.) Part of my job is to make my job look easy–seamless at the other end. Evidently, I’m good at that part. And a lot of it you can’t even see on the outside. But I know it’s there, and the people I work with benefit from my attention to detail, even if they don’t know it.

I’m into service, so I do my best. I hate to be nickel-and-dimed, so I don’t do that to my folks. I answer questions ’til the cows come home and go back out again. I help, share information, give freely of advice and ideas, both because I like to help and also because I believe this is good business. When the freebies become an expectation instead of acknowledged as a gift, however, it doesn’t feel the same.

It’s disheartening. Often the people that are paying the least expect the most from me. After a certain threshold, I just want to snap, “Good luck finding anybody else who will do half as much as I do for ten times the price!” If I find myself feeling resentful, I know I’m doing something wrong. I can get fussy at the person on the other end of the email, but truth is that only I have the ability to change it.

Maybe I need to do a better job of communicating what I really do. Maybe I need to charge more. Maybe I need to block a percentage of time for my business stuff vs. pay-the-bills-production work. Maybe I need to erect better boundaries. Maybe all of these things are erecting better boundaries.

Or maybe I just need to quit whining and get that design finished already. You know…the one with that deadline that I disregarded (as if it were a due date on one of my outgoing invoices)?

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