Have you ever heard the word ‘schadenfreude?’
It’s a German word that means taking pleasure in other people’s pain. It’s an interesting word because it’s not translatable into any other language. You can define it, but we don’t have a comparable word in English.
Honestly, I only know the word because there’s a song about it in the Broadway musical, Avenue Q. (Which, total aside, is hilarious and if you ever get a chance to see it, I highly recommend it.)
How does schadenfreude apply to this blog post?
My aim in my business is to be really transparent and genuine. This is pretty much how I go through life as well.
But I also don’t tend to share embarrassing stories with you too often, because, well, they’re embarrassing.
But I share this because there’s also lessons to be learned from it.
Okay, here we go…
Several years ago, I realized that I really like creating graphics. It’s really fun for me.
I started by creating graphics for me and my mom’s businesses.
But I’m not a graphic designer.
And while I have a pretty good eye for what looks nice, I’m fairly sure I’m breaking plenty of design rules and it’s definitely been trial and error with learning where to find graphics and what works and what does not.
Sometimes I’ve totally succeeded. And I’ve had some really big flops too.
Here is my biggest flop (and what I’ve learned from it.)
I had so much fun creating graphics for me and my mom that I took on a client.
Keep in mind, this was a few years ago, so this was well before I knew anything about growing a business on Facebook. This was before I knew Photoshop. And this was before Canva or Adobe Spark made creating graphics accessible to the masses.
Now, when I took on this client, I was super up front about being new and only having experience with creating for myself and my mom’s businesses. We agreed on a price per hour and my client gave me a test job, followed by several others jobs.
There were not really easy graphics to create and I was given very little instruction on what was wanted and told to follow the energy.
But even though they were challenging, I loved creating these.
In fact, I actually put aside all my other work anytime this client would ask me to do something, often at a moment’s notice and often working late into the night.
Now, because I was new to creating graphics, there was a learning curve. I sometimes had to learn new things, which was fine. You guys know I believe we are all lifelong learners and I love diving in and learning new stuff.
Because of the learning curve, when I was asked to figure out how much time I spent on these, I took away many hours of work.
In the end, when I was asked for an invoice for the month, I happily sent an invoice for close to $1,000. Based on the price per hour we had set minus the time I spent learning new concepts, I felt like this was a very fair accounting for my time.
I was so excited about this. This was my first big client outside of my family and I seriously gave my very best effort in everything I created.
Then came the response to my invoice.
I was told that I was over-inflating my time spent on the projects, that my inexperience meant I was taking hours and hours and hours longer than I should have taken and that in the end, I would be paid something like $200 for my time.
I was devastated.
I had given so much of my time and energy and effort to this. And more than anything, I was so embarrassed that my lack of skills meant I was getting paid way less than I had first thought.
In the end, after quite a few tears were shed, I was paid around that $200 mark and I still look back on this as one of my most embarrassing moments professionally.
But I share this with you, because I think there’s lessons to be learned from it.
We all go through things that are embarrassing at some point in our lives. And while I may look back on this and cringe, I’m stronger for it and I learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work for me in my business.
Here’s just a few examples of what I’ve learned.
1. I learned about what I require from my clients (such as clear expectations).
2. I learned about valuing my time and this was the first step in figuring out how to charge what I’m worth. For example, one thing that doesn’t work for me is putting in hours upon hours of work to get so little in return.
3. I realized how much I love creating graphics. So much so that I decided shortly after that experience to take an 8-part course on creating in Photoshop at my local community college, which has been incredibly helpful to my business.
Have you had embarrassing moments in your business? What did you learn from them?
I know it can feel incredibly vulnerable to share your not so great moments, but if you’re willing to share the moments or the lessons, I’d love to hear from you in my Facebook Group HERE