Info for contributors

If you’ve been responsible for managing projects in design employment or self-employment for any length of time, you’ll have some war stories that others could learn from, and I’d love to hear from you.

My latest book project aims to help those who dream of starting their own design business, or those who’ve already joined the ranks of the self-employed, and now need help reaching the next level.

Work for Money, Design for Love
Draft cover design

I’m looking for specific stories about an instance when:

  • A marketing activity (on or offline) succeeded
  • A marketing activity failed (teaching a valuable lesson)
  • Your ethical stance won (or lost) you a client
  • Pro bono work led to a paying client
  • The lack of a contract led to problems
  • A contract saved your bacon
  • You fired a client
  • You figured-out what to charge for design
  • You handled price negotiations
  • You raised your rates with an existing client
  • You learned a specific presentation tip
  • Client feedback improved the project outcome
  • You grew your business using social media
  • You traded design skills for something important to your business
  • You increased profits by subcontracting project deliverables
  • You created a passive income stream for your business

Update: 20 November 2012
The book’s now available to buy: Work for Money, Design for Love.

Client names can be changed or left out if it helps.

Contributor word count:
Anything from a paragraph in length up to 750 words. Whatever you need to share the full story.

General book details:
Title: Work for Money, Design for Love: Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Starting and Running a Successful Design Business
Publisher: New Riders
ISBN: 0321844270
Pages: 288
Final copy deadline (for completed book): September 2012
Release date: 29 October 2012

Here’s my contact page.

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16 comments

  1. This looks like a really interesting project. I work for a commercial company and never had the ‘balls’ to go it alone. Often wish I had. Look forward to the books release.

  2. Do designers ‘fire’ clients? Not heard of that before David?

  3. @ David Blackburn
    It happens, and here’s why:
    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell

  4. Will it be translated into the Polish language? I love your previous book. Awesome work and thanks very much for all the advice.

  5. Read Steven’s link reply at theoatmeal.com. Very funny! Yes, sometimes you have to let a client go!
    David, I can’t wait to read your new book.

  6. Love the title you went with, David. Looking forward to this. Your first book was excellent and extremely helpful.

  7. @Steven – ha, that is funny :) I guess clients can get a little demanding at time, but does this happen often?

  8. Michael, I think translations are only considered after the book has been published, and when sales figures become clear. Very glad you enjoyed my previous book. Thank you.

    Travis, likewise, it’s great to know you found my first book helpful.

    David, it happens when expectations aren’t clarified, and when clients aren’t familiar with the process. One of the book’s aims is to help people learn from the mistakes of other designers before they get to a similar stage.

  9. I once fired a client who didn’t know what he wanted. It was a bit of a difficult case — probably his boss was the problem. The boss wanted a cheap but extraordinary website and he couldn’t define what the ‘extraordinary’ term meant for him. I never spoke to the boss, only to the person who was responsible for the website. Waste of time (but a lesson learned).

  10. This book project of yours is constantly evolving man. I love it :)

    Well, the only real story I have thus far and have learnt a lot from is regretting the fact that I gave up graphic design after realising the challenge in its entirety. But then a few years later, I purchased a book (LDL) that gave me the determination to get back into it and ultimately influence how I became a freelance graphic designer.

    But you already know that ;) Again, best of luck with the book David. The design community is eagerly waiting.

  11. Voytek, while we don’t always need to work through the project with the person who ultimately signs-off, sometimes that can create its own problems (as you unfortunately found out).

    Thanks very much, Jamie.

  12. I’ve had some experiences where clients panic about their website. I find it much easier to hide the site until its completely done than show them mid-project otherwise they think it’s broken, but I definitely design for love!

  13. For me, here’s the rub. When I was on staff, money was less of an issue, as in I knew I was going to get paid, so in reality was free to ‘design for love’. But it was a lot harder to love the work I was doing, too many layers internally, less direct interaction with the client, the general suffocating corporate culture.

    On my own, I’m directly responsible with getting the work, dealing with the client and creating the work, all giving me the freedom to ‘design for love’. The rub is though I have to worry about getting paid a fair amount in a timely manner.

  14. So great that you’re collecting field reports! I just sent you my little contributions.
    Good luck with the book!

  15. Hey David,

    I’m not sure whether this’ll be of use to you but I made a big mistake about a month ago and it inspired me to write this post on being influenced by others: http://davisdnadesigns.com/dont-steal-the-work-of-others/

  16. There are definitely pros and cons to self-employment, Rob. I find the pros to be more significant, though. I’ve commented on them in one of the book’s earlier chapters (currently writing chapter 7 of 22).

    Andrea, thanks again for those.

    Jamie, I dropped by and left a remark. Stay vigilant. :)

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