I’d like to talk about one of the many pitfalls I came across when trying to run a business in amps and pedals. Exposure. People offer it to you like money. However, unlike money, you can’t spend it. Exposure doesn’t pay the bills let alone pay for the next build. I’ve never ever had anything I’ve ever done “for exposure” actually pay a dividend by resulting in a future sale. To be frank, anyone that offers you exposure for your work A) doesn’t have the money to pay you what you’re worth B) doesn’t value your work as they would their own C) knows that you have no idea what exposure is worth. Possibly all of the above.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do things for exposure. It just means you have to be smart about it. Insist on getting something in return other than just exposure. If you’re working, they’re working. If you’re spending money, they’re spending money. Never ever trade your hard work or money for simple exposure alone. The person offering you that is offering you something you could get for yourself if you’d just network better.
Most importantly, you should have an idea of what the exposure they’re offering you is worth to you. Make clear to yourself what your expectations are for the exposure you’re gaining. You expect paying customers, not tire kickers. You know what your side of the investment is, make sure you’re earning that back.
My answer to the debate over exposure is that it isn’t nearly as important as a good reputation. Some (not all) of the most successful people in the business are some of the people I think the least of. I’d rather have the reputation. This guy does quality work. This guy went above and beyond to make me happy. This guy answered my questions. He picked up the phone. He answered his email. Those things spawn good word of mouth and repeat business. That’s exposure you don’t have to buy just by doing things you should be doing anyway.