I’ve had this article stewing for a while, and I think it’s since lost it’s edge, but feel it necessary to archive none-the-less. The past month for me has been ridiculously stressful, as I was in the process of packing and shipping my life from Cincinnati to Seattle, working 40 hours a week, running my Etsy shop, and trying to have a social life in my spare time.
A little over a week before I was scheduled to depart, I got a message from someone on Etsy asking for a custom zine order. Initially, I thought they wanted to order 112 mini “Fifty Ways to Ditch that Dirty Mood” zines, as that’s the listing they were responding to. I agreed, thinking it would be a great, easy way to make a few extra bucks before my big move! I already had most of the zines in my stock, I would just have to make more copies and call it a day! However, they actually wanted a 100% custom vintage European style travel zine made. They would provide me with the information, I would simply do the design and put it together. It seemed like an easy project, so I accepted. I figured it would be a simple two hour project and I could move on with my life. Wrong.
Let’s pause there for a moment. Let’s pretend you don’t know I’m a crusty, alternative queer. Pretend you don’t know I’ve got green and teal hair, and never-mind the fact that I’m covered in tattoos and piercings. Look at my Etsy shop. It’s filled to the brim with I ❤ My Cunt, SLUT POWER and Feminists Fuck Better badges. My zines are a sort of 90’s riot grrl style. I’m not a soft, vintage, floral pattern, Paris or “neat” kind of folk. Plain and simple. Why would you come to me, of all the hundreds of thousands of Etsy shops out there, to do such an important project for one of the most important days of your lives?
Don’t get me wrong, I put in many hours (I’m talking I stayed up late, woke up early and was three hours late taking a road trip to Hocking Hills with one of my best friends) and I did it to the best of my abilities. However, I can guarantee some pages were crooked, others were cut shorter than others, and many may have been stapled lop-sided. Because that’s my style. I don’t have a “soft” hand, I suppose, when it comes to zine making. My shop reflects that. So if you want a realistic portrait tattoo done, why would you visit an artist who only does traditional style? If you wanted a three piece business suit, why would you drop into Victoria’s Secret? Call the right person for the job.
The outcome (because I know you were dying to know): I got paid less than eight dollars an hour to give up important time in my life, AND paid $15 in shipping costs to ensure a speedy delivery. I probably made about $20, which after supplies, shipping cost and time spent, equaled to about $2.50 an hour. That’s two dollars and fifty cents.
Lessons learned: Never do custom work for a bride to be when we are both on a time sensitive deadline. Charge for what I’m worth. I’m running a business, and although I like cutting people a day and working with budgets, I’ve got my own budget and bills to pay, and I need to be compensated for my hard work and time.
Again, if your electric goes out, don’t call the plumber. On the same note, if you’re a plumber, and someone’s calling you about electric problems, go ahead and pass on that job or forward them onto someone you know who can carry out those orders. (;