What Does Support Creatives Mean?
In recent times, we have seen an increase of calls to support creatives, especially black women.
Often this means retweeting or sharing their work but also prioritising hiring black women creatives. As with all things, I decided to localise this and see if I can do the same in my corner of the world. After all if it can be done everywhere else why not Zambia?
When I started having conversations with creatives a few things came out that revealed the state of how creatives are viewed, treated and often overlooked in Zambia. Here are some of the points that were put forward to me:
- Often creatives work is not valued and this is evidenced by the little that is paid to them (if they were budgeted for to begin with).
- Lack of understanding what most creatives do especially around what expenses they have to incur to provide their services.
- Creatives also struggled with pricing adequately, oftentimes invoicing or quoting for amounts lower just so that they can get the job. When they attempt to price based on their value or experience, they were either met with questions around what the ROI would be to the client or worse told that their work could be completed for a lower amount by someone else.
- Another issue was payment terms. Often creatives completed the work, submitted to the client and were either not paid or not paid on time. Payment was a huge concern as most of the time, creatives had to chase clients for payments or write off payments that were not paid after a certain time.
So when we say support creatives what do we really mean? The above indicates that retweeting and sharing work is one thing but the challenge for creatives was having their work supported by paying them their worth and paying on time or at least communicating late payments.
I had to reassess the way I do business as well. Was I guilty of the above infractions either willingly or wilfully ignoring when creartives on a project I was on were not being paid or not being paid on time? I am ashamed to say it, but yes I was. I had succumbed to partaking in a culture that often was accompanied with statements such as, “But you know creatives are not serious”, “Zambian creatives don’t submit quality work” or “You can try and support but you will disappointed”. I had heard these statements and instead of finding and supporting creatives that bucked this stereotype, I fed into the culture.
When did I change? Two years ago I worked on a wonderful digital campaign with a talented creative and I had convinced the creative to begin the work while I sorted out payment terms with the client. Payment terms were agreed, the creative was to be paid upon submission of work. I was paid late and the creative not at all. I followed up with the client who had begun to use the creatives work (clearly indicating that they were happy with the work) but payment was not forthcoming. I emailed multiple times chasing payment and even called. Only to discover that the client had no intention of paying. I ended up paying the creative myself.
From then on I had to change the way I interacted with creatives. What does support look like to me now?
- I do not ask creatives to work for free unless they offer and even then if I ask it is for volunteer projects
- I am upfront about what clients can afford and if they have a good payment record
- I try to refer creatives to clients who have a good payment record
- I protect creatives in meetings and negotiate to make sure they are paid their worth and on time
- If a creative is still not paid on time, I sometimes would pay from my own funds and chase up the client
- I ensure that where possible the creative is credited for their work
I am sure there is much more that I can do but I urge you to ask yourself, if you are a digital or content strategist tasked with asking creatives to create work for clients, what can you do to ensure that your that the creatives are paid fairly, on time and they are credited for their work?
Thank you to Linda Nsunge of Unikue Moda Photography for the images and the photography services she has performed for me over the last year. A lot of my digital campaigns have come alive because of her work. Her professionalism makes her a joy to work with and her turn around time is thus far unmatched.