After some ( about a decade plus )  years of being part of the “workforce” as an independent / entrepreneurial / freelancing photographer / graphic designer ( yes, I’ve done lots of things in lots of industries ), I have come to the conclusion that at least in India, making money is still considered “dirty”. I used to believe this conclusion earlier as well but had no experience to support it. Now I do.

“How MUCH do you charge again?” On expressing disbelief, hearing how much I was paid for the last gig.

“Nice camera. What does your father / husband do?” Alluding to how I am just lucky to have a rich father / husband. ( I’ve purchased my equipment on my own thank you very much. I also pay rent, have monthly expenses, run a household, travel abroad, live decently, etc. all on my own. And no I don’t take money from my father or husband. And my entire family will laugh at you if you ever call my parents and / or husband “rich”. )

“100% advance? This is the real world, no one gives an advance.” ( I don’t know about your “real” world, but in mine I do ask for an advance and get it. And it’s not based on some frivolous illusions of superiority, but on the practicalities of running a business professionally. )

There is no dearth of anecdotes. They get especially vicious when the attacker realizes I’m a photographer, which in most people’s heads is supposed to be an “artist” and artists are supposed to starve till they die of old age and then their offspring reap the rich rewards by selling their art. “Oh. You charge for blog posts and tweets and you charge for photography and you have an online print store and you also paint and sell acrylic / oil paintings? You’re such a sellout.”

I’m waiting for one logical argument against charging money for work. Most people fail to respond when asked to defend their “sellout” slur.


I don’t know about you but I’d rather reap the rich rewards of my work while I’m alive and kicking.

Constantly fighting the urge to apologize for “doing well” is not how I want to live and it enrages me when some make comments and remarks without putting any thought toward the fact that they know nothing about me. It is fashionable to judge someone at face value and then stick to that judgement regardless of what one sees next. I know because I fight it all the time when interacting with others.

I think ( and I could be wrong ) that a lot of people are unable to charge for their work because they simply don’t ask to be paid. It’s hard. I know. Conversations about money and negotiations and being asked to defend why you’ve quoted what you’ve quoted etc. All these conversations somehow implying that you and your work are not good enough. It is less painful to undercharge or worse still, do it for free.

When I started out, I didn’t know how to charge or what to charge and on what basis to determine my pricing, if at all. There was no advance and no contract. I was a sitting duck. To my current persona, I was an idiot persona when I started. Which is how I assume it is for most people when they start out on their own. ( I’ve lived through the phase where I couldn’t even make my Rs. 9k monthly rent and no thanks but I’m not interested in going back to that. )

But what’s the point of attacking someone who is doing better than you are? And on the basis of what exactly? Jealousy? Please grow some fuzz on your kiwis and recognize why you’re saying the things you are before putting it on the Internet’s permanence.

I derive much amusement from comments that try to accuse me for making money doing paid blog stories and Tweets for clients. The social media “Influencer” thing is like a super power I didn’t ask for but I was bestowed with. I cherish it and will use it to lead a better life.


I’d studied for the MBA because that was supposed to be my route to “make money”. Instead I broke off into graphic design and then photography ( and now some social media gigs ) because these are the things I enjoy doing most and I am good at. The “making money” is a fantastic bonus and I don’t understand why I must be stupid about it just because “likeability” is important.

Yes I think about strategy and what’s the best way to negotiate and present my business and how to sell my prints. And I quite enjoy it. I don’t see “selling” as something to be ashamed of, nor do I see “making money” to be something I should feel guilty about. The ability to produce great work and make money doing it, feed off eachother. It’s like the snake eating it’s tail ( Ouroboros ) in a virtuous circle.

The worst bit is when someone who has spent money is told, “Oh you could’ve gotten the very same thing at Y for a whole lot cheaper than what you paid to X.” To me, this is blatant disregard for the spender’s brain. Why do we assume that someone who has spent more money that we ever would, is stupid? If you make this assumption, it’s a dead give-away that you were probably brought up in South-East Asia.

To me, the most amusing aspect of all this is that it is only recently have I actually started making any money worth saving.

I would think that instead of spending time accusing someone of being a “sellout” and not dying in poverty, we might spend some time thinking about why their making more money than us, irritates us so.

A person recently tweeted to me, saying, “On what basis have you quoted your prices for the prints on your store?” This, from a stranger. I wasn’t sure why they were asking and I’m not sure why they expected me to share what my “basis” was anyway. I answered with, “Lots of factors. And I’m not obliged to share. ( Not sure why you’re asking though. )”  To which they said, “Loved your work but IMO they are overpriced. Depends on whether you want to reach the classes or masses.” 

It’s the simplistic assumptions that annoy me the most. I thanked them for their feedback of course.

It is never solely about the money. If it was, I’d be writing about vaginal whitening and tightening creams. They pay really well.



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  1. Hi Naina,

    It’s nice to see a strong post against such doubters. There really is no shame in making money. It’s like the Joker says “If you’re good at something, never do it for free!”. For someone who is just starting out, I’ve experienced that people will say nasty things even if you didn’t make any money. And this is simply because they cannot fathom how someone is getting a chance to spend time doing something they enjoy and be happy about it. Most people don’t have any inclination to do/be anything more than their day jobs. It’s just all too easy to blame work, their significant others, their children and that distant black hole at the far end of the Milky Way for how they aren’t doing what they like in life.

    I find it best to ignore these folks because quite honestly, no one else is going to be more passionate about your life than you.

    Keep Calm and make money!

    1. Hi Nikhilesh! Thank you for the lovely and encouraging comment. It’s easier said than done – ignoring naysayers or nasty comments. I try. I prefer to set the record straight though but I know that doesn’t necessarily reduce the nastiness or the naysaying. It is the nature of most human beings to behave like crabs in a bucket but thankfully there will always be exceptions who delight in the success of others. Cheers!

  2. Your posts are, literally, educational. For someone who is trying to create a business doing what they love, your posts are a saviour. Not many others are open and honest about the hard realities of creating a business online. Thanks for the insight!

    1. Hi Shinjini, thank you for the feedback. I appreciate it and I’m glad it helps in some small way. The rate of change of life due to the Internet is incredibly high and it’s a whole new level of trying to keep up. Chellanges abound on each front when running a business, whether online or offline. I’m glad I have a platform to share my experiences and so many more share their experiences as well – if not in India 🙂 Good luck!

  3. what a kick-ass or rather kick-in-the-balls blog post. Your closing statement is to die for. #RESPECT

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