On the heels of the previous post about money junkies it’s worth taking a moment to think about self-worth. The reason it’s an important topic is that if you’re not willing to set the floor on your own value, you can assume everyone else will set it at zero. In fact, only a few years ago there was a theory being floated that the smart play in the internet age was to give yourself away in every respect, including work you created.
Called the freemium pricing strategy, the idea — much like the overriding ethos of web development in general — was that eyeballs, marketing and branding are more important than anything else. Gather enough attention and you can cash in by monetizing your online celebrity. Now, if your product is celebrity that might be true, just as it’s probably true if you’re a money junkie and have lots of cash and employees to burn through. Likewise, if you have no compunction about abusing your own customer base, and in particular children and young adults, making free-to-play games can be profitable. Like street-savvy drug dealers, the makers of free-to-play games give their products away until users are hooked, then stick them with carefully engineered pricing strategies and deceptive promises that all but compel players to pony up real cash if they want to stay competitive.
Unfortunately, if you are an unknown, do not have a round of funding you can torch in order to attract your next round of funding, or you have a conscience, giving yourself and your work away will always yield exactly no money, which is problematic if you also like to eat and don’t want to live under a bridge. If you aspire to make a living doing something you love, or even doing something you hate, you’re going to have to give some consideration to your worth as a worker and as a human being. Depending on the state of the economy it’s entirely possible that the world will laugh in your face, particularly if the money junkies on Wall St. have blown the earning power of the average consumer to to smithereens and unemployment is through the roof, but still — at some point you have to draw a line in the sand.
Speaking of which, when you’re just starting out in your chosen field — or playing around until you figure out what you want to be when you grow up — it’s probably a good thing to be humble. Nobody likes a know-it-all or someone who is overly confident. If you’ve written a book and you’re sure it’s going to sell a million copies at $100 a piece — well, you get points for valuing yourself, but many more points off for being an idiot. By the same token, however, if you have zero confidence, even if only in your ability to bounce back from what will almost certainly be a setbacks, you’re probably going to fail. [ Read more ]