For love or money

6th January 2017

When I started Chesapeake in 2009 I could have done with rich, loose clients. Big time. But instead I had great clients. Individuals and organisations I liked to talk to and whose work I admired. They had projects with wings, and faith enough to let me go to town creatively. That was work for love. And not much money.

As Chesapeake steadily grew, budgets also steadily grew. I do less work now for individuals, and much more for organisations. I sometimes work on projects where there is little love involved, and sometimes not even direct contact with the end client. But there is more money.

The benefits of money projects can often number just one: Money. Little else about the project may be worth getting excited about. I often don’t share my money projects. This has bummed me out over the years – sinking time into something I’m not that stoked about. The way I fight being bummed – and make money projects more than just financially rewarding – is to force myself to try something new on each new money project. Career development I get paid for. Nice.

While working for love often ends with a smaller pay check sometimes it has delayed financial rewards. The side-project is almost always just love, but it can lead to paid work because it serves as a kind of shop window for my new or unseen skills. It’s about passion and people are pretty into that.

There are times when I love and care about the outcome of a project so much I will pour extra time into it beyond what’s budgeted. I wrote about one such project here, and there are many more like this. Dedication to a client’s project can lead to more work because dedication is something else people like to see and feel good paying for.

The perfect project has both of course. And I have had a few of those. They’re the ones to write home about. Sometimes the money is the most useful thing, but most of the time it’s love I would choose. It’s always worth being in love.