When you work in a creative field, you cannot judge your success based on your bank account. The amount of money you make does not correlate to how skilled you are as an artist.
Unfortunately, art does not get financially rewarded the way it should, even if you are the greatest of your generation. You could put your heart and soul into a piece and only get offered exposure. You could work on a project for months and receive less than you would have made at a part-time job that required half the work.
Working in a creative field is risky. You are not guaranteed a paycheck. Your work is not always going to be rewarded monetarily.
If you want to make a living out of your art, you have to have realistic expectations. You are not going to make thousands of dollars when you are first starting out, regardless of your work’s quality. It can take years to be taken seriously as an artist. It can take a lifetime.
This does not mean you should settle for a position where you feel like you are being taken advantage of or scammed. You should not work for anyone who disrespects your time or the amount of effort you put into your art. You are free to ask for a higher paycheck. You are free to walk away when you cannot agree on a price. The best part about working for yourself is you get to set the rules. You get to decide what you will tolerate and what you will not stand.
However, you should never forget how competitive the creative market is and how hard it is to make a living doing what you love. The amount you are paid for your art does not necessarily reflect the quality of your work. That is why you should not be too hard on yourself when you are unable to sell something it took you months to complete. Sometimes, your work is going to be rejected because of circumstances. Sometimes you are only going to be offered exposure because the company cannot afford to offer you anything else.
You have to stop thinking of success as something that can be measured by the size of your house, the model of your car, or the number of digits in your bank account. When you work in the arts, you might make your biggest paycheck off of your least favorite piece and you sell your favorite piece for nickels and dimes. The market is unpredictable. Your paychecks are not going to be reliable.
If you want to make a living doing what you love, you have to hustle. You have to work hard. You have to keep going, keep creating, even when it feels like you are not getting rewarded sufficiently enough for all of your effort.
Unfortunately, most people are not going to pay you what your art is worth. They are going to negotiate. They are going to offer you what they can afford. You cannot take this to heart. You cannot let this discourage you. You cannot take this as a sign your work is subpar.
The quality of your work is not always going to be reflected in your pay and that’s okay. That is normal. That is the way the art world works.
When you decide to make a living doing what you love, you cannot expect to earn riches overnight. You cannot judge yourself based on how much money you are making. You cannot let the number in your bank account convince you that you are a failure because success is about more than the amount you are paid.