Dear Preston: My Career Is In A Rut


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(Photo via Unique)

Dear Preston,

I live in Spain and am an architect, though for the last two years I have worked at my own event design firm. The reason I am writing to you is because I barely make a living, and the situation doesn’t look very promising.

In Spain, designer work is certainly undervalued, and event design (I do mostly weddings) is something completely secondary to many brides — or something their mothers take care of. This is changing a bit, but still, people are not very willing to spend their money on “decoration.” Also, the economical prospect in Spain is abysmal at best.

I don’t know, maybe all beginners feel like this, I am getting more and more work, but I have had to drop my prices, and my profits are not very good.

Lately, I have been talking with my photographer husband about relocating to the US or maybe the UK, which seems a better fit for us and our professions. My question to you is: should I try to hold on here or would you recommend moving? Is the market there capable of accepting yet another event designer?

Of course, I would have to work for others at the beginning, but still, sometimes, I think it would be better for me and my husband in the long run. Do you agree?

Thank you very much for your time and patience, and also for your invaluable insight, I read your blog and it helps me many times when I am discouraged or disoriented.

Best Regards,
Ready to Move

Dear RTM,

Thank you for your sweet and thoughtful letter. I empathize; our industry can be very frustrating, and it’s easy to get disheartened.

Maybe a move to the U.S. or the U.K. would be a good fit for you and your husband; I’m certain there’s more than enough work for another designer in both countries. However, I get the sense from your letter that your desire to move might be coming from a place of anxiety and panic. And those are not good reasons to move.

You said yourself that you are getting more and more work. That’s a great sign. So, I’m not convinced that abandoning your business, which you’ve been working hard at for two years, to start all over in a new country is the best decision.

You also mentioned that you’ve been lowering your prices, and now your profits aren’t strong. I’ve written about this risky practice before (Here and Here).

I understand needing business and worrying that if you don’t lower your prices, you’ll miss out on jobs. But you need to give potential clients a polite but firm reality check. Explain to them the value of the services you’re offering. Most clients will understand, and accept your higher prices.

If you really are getting steadying work, then I think the first thing to do is raise your prices back up. Practice explaining to clients why you and your work are worthy of those prices. Then, be patient. Give it some time. See what happens. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


Dear Readers, what do you think? Do you agree with my advice? Do you have anything to add? Please help this young designer and share your advice in the comments.

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