016 – You’re Paid What You’re Worth

by | Jan 31, 2024 | Podcast

Many of us like to think we’re worth more than we’re being paid. This may be true. But in our current profession, it may not be possible to earn more. Which can only mean one thing – the only way to increase your artistic income is by shifting your mindset.

In this episode of Creativity Excitement Emotion, David shares how to break out of the income box you’re stuck in.


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00:17 – Facing the cold, hard facts
03:22 – Confronting the truth
04:12 – The value that different businesses provide
06:35 – What artists can learn from other industries
08:16 – Finding a music career model that works


You are paid what you’re worth. Sometimes this is difficult to accept, especially when you feel like the effort that you’re putting in is not proportionate to the payment you’re receiving for it.

So, let’s look at this. What’s the problem? And why do we need to accept that you are paid what you’re worth?

Well, firstly, we sometimes need to come face to face with hard realities to be able to progress beyond where we are.

We sometimes need to come face to face with hard realities to be able to progress beyond where we are. Share on X

I’ve had to do this myself. I don’t like looking at the fact that or thinking about the idea that what I’m paid right now by some of my clients is what I’m worth. Because they dictate many of the terms.

I remember hearing that Joe Vitale got paid something like $6 per word. That’s insane. Maybe I’m not at Joe Vitale level. I certainly don’t have his notoriety.

But I would not say, especially based on the amount of work that I put into writing, I have seven books and three best-sellers out of that… That my value would be equivalent to, let’s say a beginner freelance writer.

Five, six, or seven cents per word is totally acceptable for a beginner writer. But as you gain experience, it’s got to start to go up, right? Based on the value that you’re able to generate for others.

I would not say that my value is any less than 20 cents. I would even say that a dollar per word wouldn’t be totally out of the question for someone like me because a lot of people have told me that not only do they appreciate my writing, but they think it’s great and they very much resonate with it.

That tells you something because technically, yeah, anybody can write, but writing something people appreciate, enjoy, and resonate with is an entirely different proposition.

Let’s say a client is paying me about four grand per month for the content I’m generating for them. Well, if it was four grand per month for three hours of work, I’d say that’s extraordinary.

But four grand for 30 hours of work? Well, how much time and energy am I realistically left with? After 30 hours per month of work, not a lot.

Maybe I could put in 10 hours, right? Or maybe I could put in an additional 20 or 30 hours if I was hustling and grinding.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking to myself, “That four grand per month, I’m worth so much more than that.”

At the same time, I realize I can’t argue with reality. In an argument between you and reality, reality always wins.

So, facing the idea that I’m worth four grand per month, or whatever I’m being paid in total combined between all my clients, but just for this example, we’ll say four grand per month because that’s just easier to understand, brings me to the point of going, “Huh. Maybe in this current position or what I’m currently providing to my clients is worth that and may only ever be worth that.”

Why would I want to face that harsh truth? Because it would allow me to take that feedback and go, “I need to adjust course. I need to figure out something else that’s going to be of greater value to my clients such that I can be paid more for it.”

There are many examples in the world. Let’s look at farmers because I love the metaphor as well as the example in general.

Farmers produce a lot of food, right? That’s the basis of that specific business. So, what does producing a lot of food allow them to do?

When they produce a lot of crops, they’re able to distribute it and sell it to a lot of people. Because they’re serving larger numbers of people, they’re able to earn a lot more money.

In Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, I haven’t seen too many farmers with beat-up, run-down homes. In fact, many of them have what I would consider close to castles or mansions,

They make something ordinary, but valuable. Food is valuable, and they serve a lot of people, and that’s the basis for the huge sums of profits they’re able to make.

I think a good contrasting example, though it’s one where a lot of money is still made, so in that sense, it’s not conflicting or contrasting, but one good example that sort of contrasts to that is vehicles.

Now we all know that vehicles serve a large market, but in terms of frequency of purchases, food is far more common.

Many of us go grocery shopping. What? Once a week, twice a week? Maybe if you’re efficient, once every two weeks if you know what you’re doing and you’re buying in bulk?

So, we don’t buy cars as often. probably the people who buy most often, still only buy once every two or three years. There’s just simply no necessity for buying a new car every year. Some people may do that, of course, if they’re able to afford that type of luxury.

But many people don’t buy new cars for five years, 10 years, 15 years. And yet the car industry, year after year, produces large sums of money, right?

So, it’s still serving lots of people. That’s true, but the frequency of purchase is considerably less, and the product is sold at a much higher price point than most food would ever be.

Now you might think these examples are irrelevant to a music career, but we can easily transfer them over.

So, for example, the food industry. Okay, so you’re producing large sums of crop and serving lots of people. That’s a duplicable model in a music career. You could make lots of music that appeals to a lot of people.

It doesn’t have to be unique to get the job done, it just needs to be something people like. And if you grow lots of fans by producing lots of music, it doesn’t have to be great, but music that people like. You can replicate that and end up serving a lot of people and making good income from it.

And then the auto industry example. There is something that we can compare it to. Like if you produce great music less frequently, you can still find a fan base for it.

Another way of thinking about that is you could create fan clubs and other upgrades for the same fans. You can have fewer fans than someone taking the farmer approach.

But if you’ve served those fever fans with exceptional efficiency and you’re able to upgrade them and increase your customer lifetime value with every fan that comes to you, you would be able to create a great music career without having to appeal to thousands and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands and millions of people.

If you want to create a profitable music career, you’ve got to begin to look at models that work. What are the models that allow you to serve lots of people? Or what are the models that allow you to serve a smaller number of people, but with increasingly better and greater and more exclusive and interesting offers that they want to buy?

If you want to create a profitable music career, you've got to begin to look at models that work. Share on X

Artists who end up spinning their wheels aren’t thinking all that deeply about business models. They’re just thinking about, “I want to make great music and hope that there are fans out there who appreciate it.”

That’s fine, especially if you want it to be a hobby level or just earn a couple hundred bucks on the side. Nothing wrong with that gig at all. And I’ve been in that gig and have found it to be rewarding in its own way.

But if you want to produce an income, well you’re talking about a business model. It must be. You must look at ways of serving a larger number of people. Or you must look at ways of serving a smaller number of people with increasingly better, higher-priced, more exclusive offers that they will purchase.

If you’re not earning what you think you should be earning, this is probably the problem – you’re not thinking of it in terms of a business model.