Focus on reader comments #3

reader comments

Here we go with five more excellent comments from you, the people who help make this website what it is. For previous reader comment features see the ‘related articles’ section at the foot of the post.

creative curio

Lauren of Creative Curio, on, “Using freelance design contracts

“The other benefit to established payment upfront is that it makes sure both the client and the designer have a vested interest in the project. Of course, even this doesn’t always work to make sure the client is serious about the project, but at least the designer gets partially paid for his / her trouble!”


Steve of advertees, on, “Does blogging interfere with your day job

“…it seems increasingly that blogging is an essential and major part of any forward thinking business, we are encouraged by google to provide more relevant info, educate our customers and be transparent and open about who we are and our motivations, the internet is benifiting as a result. Blogging has not so much interfered with my day job but enhanced it…”

Sigurdur Armannsson of, on, “When did you last thank your readers?

“At the end of the year 2006 I designed a calendar / poster for 2007. 470 x 1000 mm. I had a small print shop print it for free and had my logo and theirs on the poster. Then I offered it to my readers as a thank for loyalty and reading, but they had to visit the print shop to get it. Most of those who asked for the calendar had a nice talk with the guys at the print shop about printing and business. So, everyone gained.”

Darren Hoyt

Darren Hoyt of Darren Hoyt Dot Com, on “Why are designers never satisfied?

“There’s the Paul Valéry quote, “A poem is never finished, only abandoned” which is very true of layout and design, at least in the eyes of the designer. I could quit my job and fine-tune my own site for the next six months and never feel it was quite right.”

Truly Ace

Amanda Vlahakis of Truly Ace, on, “How not to approach designers

“If you work for free you devalue your work in the eyes of your customers and then it will make it harder for them to feel that they should pay you for anything. Potential customers who witness you working for free for others (they do talk amongst each other you know) will have a lower opinion of the ‘value’ of your work.

“Hey, use so and so, they will do this and that for free for you.”

“You’ll just end up with even more businesses referred to you by the previous ‘freebie recipients’ who also don’t want to pay. And so you start a vicious circle for yourself. Only you can control the circle and stop it happening.

“It’s all about branding. As a designer you have to take care of the perception of your brand just as much as any other business.”

Can you relate to any of these reader comments?

Thanks very much for the continued comments / discussion from all of you (not just those five friends listed above). You’re a great source of inspiration, and it’s a pleasure to have you read my website.

27 responses

  1. I can really relate to Amandas comment about working for free. I have done some free work for friends lately, but i realise they are the ones who will refer others to me… Hopefully they will emphasise other aspects of working with me than the price i gave them.

    I’m a bit worried now. Better charge my cat for that brand new bird-poster i gave her too! :)

  2. Thanks for the mention, David.

    I sympathize with Amanda’s point about getting burned by offering design services for free. Unfortunately, I’ve had similar experiences when working on a trade basis for acquaintances. The trade never seems to balance out enough to satisfy both parties and invariably there are some uncomfortable moments. I’ve even been taken advantage of when doing projects strictly for charity! Everyone’s looking to get a lot for a little, so it pays to set the ground rules clearly and early.

    Also, belated congrats on the How magazine feature!

  3. Very suprised to find my comment here this morning, but a perfect example of what makes this blog so popular, taking the time to read and respond, highlighting readers and their thoughts and opinions. Cheers David

  4. Darren Hoyt’s point about ‘abandoning’ a design rather than it ever being finished rings true: I never quite feel a design is ‘complete’!

    Truly Ace’s comment on free work is also a good read: a long-term client of ours recently asked for free work, which put us in an uncomfortable position. We simply said we couldn’t work for free, and explained (politely) that, as a paying client, they’d receive better service – if we were very busy the week the work was due to be done, we’d have no choice other than to cut corners on the work, which wouldn’t benefit the client or us.

    I enjoy these ‘focus on reader comments’ posts, David – keep them coming!

  5. The quote about a poem never being finished, just abandoned hits home to me. I can think of many areas in life where it applies. Even in blogging!

  6. Thanks for including me, I hope my comments are useful :)

    I haven’t actually been burned much myself at all with regards to designing for free. I very quickly cottoned on freebies can set a dangerous path for a designer.

    I think it’s fine to offer free things though as long as you are clear in what you aim to achieve from design freebies and remember that you are still in control of the situation.

    For instance free design can be useful for;

    Competitions (competitons for free design is a marketing method and thus not ‘a bad idea’ necessarily).

    As mentioned free design can also be for charity, but remember that just because you offered to work for free that it doesn’t mean you have no control over ‘how much’ you design. You are still in control of the situation.

    For instance this summer for free I designed two posters for Cancer Research and had agreed to do an event programme as well.

    What she didn’t tell me though when it came to starting work on the programme is that the event programme was 16 pages big!

    Errrr….hmmm….funny that she didn’t think the size of it was worth a mention when asking if I’d do it for free or not – or she could have perhaps described it as an event ‘booklet’.

    So I very politely advised that I couldn’t commit to that volume of free design work on top of the posters already designed, and had not expected that the event programme would be so large and had perhaps thought it would be a folded A5 brochure (4 sides of A5 to design)

    I apologised for presuming about it’s size rather than clarifying at the outset when agreeing to do it (though really it’s something ‘she should have mentioned to me’), and said I would do the cover for her.

    So I did the cover only, she was very happy and found someone else to do the other inner pages, and will be in touch with me next year to support next years event again.

    Now David will be Google page one for ‘design freebies’, lol.

    I can totally relate to never being satisfied. I need to change my website AGAIN! I only changed it about four months ago…I can’t help it, I just can’t bear it’s uglyness any more.


  7. “I could quit my job and fine-tune my own site for the next six months and never feel it was quite right.”

    Yeah, just like Richard to Darren Hoyts comment.

    At least in print, once its done, its done. No changes. But I suppose thats both the blessing and the curse of web design!

  8. I like this post / article series, brides the gap between you and those who come to your blog. Helps to make people feel that they’re input is valued as much as yours. Kudos!

  9. I must agree to few of those comments, because I think my website will never be finished and now I am helping few friends to do website design for free. Comments are really inspiration place sometimes, those people just help us to keep going.

  10. I like the quote that says “A poem is never finished, only abandoned” but I do think it is necessary with graphic design to stop at some point otherwise a design can be over worked which often makes the design obscure and meaningless to the viewer as they were not aware of the evolving process during the design stage which can leave gaps for the viewer that they might never fill in. With regards to websites though yeah the tweaking never ends!

  11. Lauren, really found your comment valuable. Upfront payment really helps the client get their backside into gear so they don’t leave you wondering whether the job is actually goahead.

    Amanda Vlahakis, yeah, that’s perceptive about free work. Like you imply in your second comment, it’s important never to forget that amidst all the rat-race, there’s still such a thing as a labour of love. Equally important not to lose your spine in such a situation and let the freeriders ride to far.

  12. I agree with what Amanda said. However, in my own regard, I have not had a client in a long time and I quite often do charity work for people because what’s the point of having a talent if you’re not using it for something? Not all of us are blessed with an incoming client load.

    I also can relate with what Steve said. I started my blog as a way to introduce people to me and my craft, but since then it has taken on another life. Now I write articles and tutorials encouraging people to tap into their inner creativity and to teach them how to do things on their own.

  13. Thanks so much for everyone’s kind comments. As many of you know, I’m settling into a new home here in Northern Ireland. There’s no internet connection as yet, so I’m making use of a temporary office whilst organising my broadband supply.

    Sorry I can’t respond individually. I’m hoping everything gets back to normal this time next week. Full service will soon resume.

  14. A great collection of comments David. I think this is a really great thing to be doing on your blog, and its lead me to some great graphic resources, so I’ve shared some more link love!


  15. I’m with Bryan Hoyt on that subject. I require a 50% deposit to begin the project mainly to ensure the client isn’t just ‘wondering what a design would look like’ but actually WANTS a custom blog design. No need to spend 5-6 hours on a mock up only to hear the dreaded “well, it looks good but I’d rather not redo my site at the moment”.

    Business is business. If they want it, they should be willing to invest the deposit because you’re investing the time into the beginning of the job as well.

  16. Thanks Doug.

    Once the new office is operational I’ll see about some snapshots.


    Glad you see some value to these post types. Thanks for letting me know.


    I fully agree. If a client is serious, they should be willing to invest up front.

  17. Hello,

    I have spent some time reading through the site and have enjoyed the commentary.

    What would be the likely response of a GD to a request to design t-shirt artwork around a specific theme with the payment coming from a specific royalty per t-shirt sold?

    My thoughts are that a contract that both agreed was fair coupled with sharing information about the means of marketing the products would give the GD some sense of whether it was worth their time investing their time in the project. What do you think?

    Thanks and don’t let the cheapskates get you down :)

  18. hey..

    im a graphic design student , reading all the comments really helps me get a better idea of what is happening out there, which is great since I’m not really all that familiar with the bussiness world yet. Any advice on how to handle clients and how to boost your creative thinking when you simply just can’t think anymore would be really awesome.

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