Some projects help you grow by acting like stepping stones for future work. Others are work that keeps you in the game.
It’s important to realize the difference between the exciting, promising “growth work” and the more mundane “sustaining work”, and to take care to make a clear distinction of pricing them accordingly.**Sustaining work doesn’t have to be connected to your mission, and passion, or sense of achievement. It’s just something that clients need doing and you do it to pay the bills or “fund your mission”.
Growth work is done in pursuit of the future position we want to be in, including but not limited to providing us with a constructive challenge or the excuse to learn something that we wanted to learn anyway.
|It’s not a binary decision though – it’s a balancing act. Like a painter that waits tables to make ends meet, focusing on painting 100% of the time is a bad idea, but so is pouring every waking hour into chasing dollars. It seems glamorous to be a purist and refuse anything but 100% growth work, but that’s an unnecessary impediment to your actual growth. To consistently make good art you need to eat first.
That being said, I never recommend pricing them both in the same way. Sustaining work needs to have an ironclad standard price, with no exceptions. Charity, exposure discounts, risk-sharing, and learning opportunities should be reserved for growth work only.