Beyond The Vanity

By Hayley Kassel

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

We Found Someone Cheaper

Words that no freelancer ever wants to hear, especially when you thought you were hired in the first place. This statement in particular makes you think, HARD.  Am I charging to much?... Are they just really cheap people?... Should I have just taken the job and not tried to negotiate?...
All in all, did I do something wrong?

Very recently, I had this exact situation happen. I won't bash the company that did it or give exact numbers or names, but I feel it's something a lot of freelancers go through at some point, and I do not think it is okay.

I was hired. I was hired for what seemed to be a great job, commercial/ad, full day of work, and the pay at the time was just about what I pay fore rent, so I was ecstatic. Before sending this job through my agency, I wanted to make sure I had all the details, clear and concise, so I could make my own Invoice to send them.  This is where things took a turn.

The entire time I had been communicating with this company, I was under the impression it was one model for the full day. That's how I gave my initial rate in the first place, thinking that it was a full day (8 hour) commercial shoot, at a location that was VERY far away, with one model. The woman I had been in contact with, emailed back stating that it was actually 4-6 models.. and that's when I got a horrible feeling in my gut.

Not really sure what to do, or where that number even came from, I replied that from the start of talking with her, I had thought it was only one model and that now knowing it was 4-6, if we could discuss/negotiate my rate for the day. You know? To see if their was any wiggle room in their budget.

And let me make this very clear, my email was not hostile in any shape or form. I did not demand more money, I just wanted to see if there was any chance of NEGOTIATION on the matter.
But, clearly, they did not like this.
They responded about 15 minutes later saying unfortunately that they would no longer be needing my services for that shoot day...... Now at this point, my heart sank along with my already upside down stomach.  Wait? What?! WHAT?!!!  <------ my mind
Completely in shock, I emailed back as fast as I could, stating that "I'm sorry for any confusion, all I wanted to know is if there was any wiggle room." But NOT that I wanted out of the actual job at hand.

To my dismay, and the whole point of this blog post, all they replied back was "We have found someone cheaper.  This person will do it for less then the initial rate we were going to pay you."   And that was that.

End of the back and forth conversation that I had only started in the first place to get all the shoots details so I could send them my invoice.  Now, this is usually the time where people say Fuck'em! You don't need them! They don't deserve you! and on and on and on 
But, when you were fully counting on a job to bring in most of your rent/bills/utilities/food, and it gets ripped away, those little angry statements are the last thing on your mind.  And this brings us back to the beginning thoughts of:
"I just shouldn't have said anything.."    "What am I going to do now?"
"Should I send them a seriously angry email stating how wrong they are?!!!!!..... no, never.."

Then again, there are other ways of looking at this kind of shitty situation as well. This is where my parents wise words and thoughts chime in.
"Would you have taken this job in the first place, had you known the amount of models and the pay they were willing to give?"
"What can you take from this? What have you learned?"

I am still bitter about the situation. I also find myself being angry with the artist who would take a job like that, for much less then they should. This is what I hear about everyday.
Don't worry, if you don't take the job, someone else will do it, and a lot of the time, for free.
The talk that it's getting harder and harder to get the rate you deserve because clients/companies now have caught on that there will ALWAYS be an artist who will do the job for next to nothing.

How do we fix this? Do we plunge our rates to try and fit in?
Or do we stand our ground!... and maybe not get hired for jobs because of it.
I've seen in it done both ways, but the frustration with the artists stays that same.


  1. Excellent article! People working for themselves, especially in the creative arts, have to hustle one way or another every day. They hone their craft and try for excellence out of the passion they feel for the business. They offer their services for free or very little money at the start so they can get a reputation, portfolio, exposure, networking in their chosen art and ultimately the expertise to charge what they are worth. I doubt any of the artists are working this hard because their motivation is getting rich. The mentality of the people who hire these artists hopefully will reflect and respect the artist by offering, contracting ethically, then paying a fair wage. It is a shocking wake-up call when the artist is played or ripped off when offered a job and I hope this isn't the reality of the business. How jaded do we want our creative artists to be when they offer services and are called naive when people shop for cheaper or at last minute pull the job without consideration or communication. Is this the state of the arts? Is this to be the norm? How can freelance artists make a living wage when they are being shopped like a dollar store?
    I do hope these artists can somehow work together so the "shoppers" are not given the opportunity to undercut a hired MUA with another who will work for less. Maybe more communication between the creative artists to double check if they are in a rip-off situation? I don't know the business well enough to answer these questions. I only know the artists who are lacking rent money.

  2. I'm a hairdresser and... I feel your pain.... All I can say is that with all the business classes I have taken in my industry I am told over and over and over again... Charge what you are worth!!! Seriously... charge what you are worth....

  3. Cost is what you pat. Value is what you get. From what I see Hayley you bring far more value to the table than most people at your level in your career. If you feel you deliver a premium product, never ever short change that for someone who doesn't value their own brand enough to pay you for your service. It might take some extra time, extra frustration, extra digging, but if you have a vision, don't sell it short. - Eddie


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