Brittany recently left a gig because it stopped making sense for her. “This is my problem,” she tells me over coffee, “I get involved with projects like these because I just want to help.” After spending a year and a half as a creative consultant for a mentor of hers, she realized she was not getting paid enough for the amount of work she was putting in. As a musician and filmmaker, this was less than ideal. How would she find time to pursue her art when she couldn’t get properly compensated for her time at her day job?
“For [Person Y] I was an event coordinator and production assistant. On the creative side, I wrote scripts, filmed YouTube content, edited YouTube content, and managed our branding,” she says. “But it was clear that I wasn’t going to get paid enough to do this.”
While Brittany was being paid $13/hr for her work of across various fields, she watched Person Y pay others more money for lesser work. This was the tipping point when she realized that something needed to change.
“Ideally, I’d like to work 3-4 days a week so that I can make enough money to do creative stuff.” This is the common goal I hear among many of my creative peers: what can I do to minimize the time I spend at a day job in order to maximize the time I can spend on my art? While Brittany is looking at barista positions, she hopes to maybe do something that uses the skills she used with Person Y.
“How do I, a person without any marketing background, market myself?” she asks me. Like myself, Brittany finds herself interested in and capable of pretty much anything. It is difficult as a dynamic individual to tell a potential employer this. When faced with the question “What do you do?”, the most honest answer feels like “What don’t I do?” This ambiguity doesn’t gel well with the specialization that many formal jobs demand, so Brittany continues to navigate the informal job market.
I first saw Brittany perform a live set at Tim’s Tavern in Seattle, Washington. She sang through her newest album HERe* as dancers performed in front of her in a shared spotlight. One of the themes of the event was taking up space, and the whole show did just that. With all of the personality and diversity of talent presented, there were no lulls or gaps in the performance or the space.
Talking with Brittany highlighted a common problem I encountered with my other artistic peers: how do you assess your monetary value? As a creative, it always feels kind of strange charging anyone for using your talents, and I’ve noticed that some of us feel bad about asking for too much money. We know how it feels to not have that much, and so we take it upon ourselves to make sure it never feels like we are stealing from our clients.
However, valuing your time means being in touch with the skills you have to offer. For Brittany, she was doing an incredible amount of talented work that I know is not worth the $13/hr she was getting paid. Together, we concluded that if she wanted to get a better gig doing the same kind of all-encompassing personal assistant work, she needed to plan out her terms. This meant outlining what her clients could expect from her, along with set prices and timelines so that she never ended up doing something she didn’t want to do.
As of today, Brittany is preparing for her day job change and her upcoming shows at music festivals Bumbershoot (9/1/18) and Microfest (9/15/18). It’s a lot of work, but after hearing about all the various tasks she managed while working for Person Y, there seems to be no one more equipped than Brittany to take on a wide assortment of challenges.
You can follow Brittany Allyson on her Instagram @brittanyallysonofficial.