Financial affordability...kind of a weird combination of terms. But that's where I'm at this blog post round. So here goes.
I came across this blog post in my search and found it very refreshing: http://www.graphicdesignblog.org/graphic-designers-salary-and-payments/, mainly because I, myself, tend to de-value myself without even realizing it. I remember the first time I got paid for my graphic design services, it was a piddly invoice, but at the time I felt like I was robbing my client. I just couldn't believe that I was getting paid to do something that I really enjoyed and that didn't feel like work. These days my bills have taken away that feeling and I'm starting to recognize the value in what I'm giving my clients. A lot of this has to do with my realization that they really can't do it without me. Non-designers just can't get the job done as well as a trained designer. I think recognizing that was key in valuing myself, and thus expecting my clients to see that as well.
Now the hard part comes when you run into the people who still don't get that. Or better yet, the people who say "just whip something up quick" as if it was as easy as clicking our mouse a few times and a great logo just magically appears. Not so. For me personally I don't need to be getting paid millions of dollars for my logos or website designs. As long as I can pay my bills and save some money, live comfortably, I'm happy.
I've been thinking about this concept a lot in my current job. Right now it's the highest paying graphic design job that I have had yet, but it's not necessarily my favorite. There are things about the work environment and the way the company runs that I'm not the biggest fan of, which has been a great learning experience, but then brings me to ask myself if it's worth it. Do I bother staying in a job that I'm at only to gain professional experience and a paycheck that covers my expenses? Or do I stick it out knowing it's going to be short term and I can't afford to be job-less right now?
Unfortunately my answer is the latter, and I wish it didn't have to be that way, but sometimes there comes a point when you just have to be realistic. And on the other hand, I wouldn't have known what I do and don't like had I not experienced this, so now when going into another job I'll know what questions to ask and what to look out for. The end goal is to find a job that meets my financial needs as well as my personal needs. I'm a firm believer that just like your soul mate, that job is out there somewhere!
But does that help me stay motivated in the mean time? Hardly. Most of the time when I'm working on projects I reach a point of interest that goes beyond the time spent on it and the hours lost of sleep. That is to say, I disregard my paycheck out of love for the project. Many times that inspiration comes from outside factors of respect for the client or desire to please them and nail the project for their sake. So if there is a disrespect or a frustration with the client, that motivation goes out the window, and at that point it doesn't matter how big your paycheck is, you just don't want to do it. That's how it is for me at least.
On a particularly unmotivated day I came across this post: http://dzineblog.com/2010/03/reasons-designers-fail-to-remain-motivated-and-5-ways-to-fight-back.html. Especially when it says, "Having an uncomfortable and sturdy work environment can easily decrease ones level of motivation." I have felt that for sure in my current position and it was kind of an eye opener to read that.
And I guess in the end, if I'm not motivated, how can I produce quality work that anyone will actually pay me for? In other words, working to meet your financial needs goes beyond the salary offered and encompasses multiple factors.