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The big money questions: a guide for new creatives

Pay rises, day rates, dilemmas about prioritising money or creative opportunities – young creatives have a lot to get their heads around. We asked OMSE founder James Kape, copywriter Ellen Ling and the Talent Business partner Anna Green for advice

Whether you’re landing your first job, branching out as a freelancer, or getting ready to negotiate your first pay rise, the topic of money can be intimidating. Many new creatives have never been taught how to have these conversations, and rates, salaries and budgets have traditionally been cloak and dagger affairs.

The good news is that it all gets better with experience, but the bad news is you have to go through the process to get there first. For many grads and aspiring creatives, the money questions start before they’ve even begun their first full-time role.


In the UK, interns doing regular work for an employer generally qualify as an employee, and are entitled to National Minimum Wage. There are some exceptions – for example if someone is volunteering or simply shadowing work – all of which are clearly laid out on the site.

Despite this, some businesses still hire unpaid interns – a practice that only exacerbates inequality in the industry. And if you’re working as a photographer or illustrator, chances are you’ll be offered something with the promise of exposure, instead of budget.

As far as OMSE founder James Kape is concerned, working for free starts creatives off on the wrong foot. “If you’re not receiving funds to do work, it’s like, are you taking me seriously? Are you going to use the work I’m creating? It creates this barrier to creation,” he says.