Thursday, December 13, 2012

Diary of a Freelancer: The Art of Respect

"an oldie but a goodie" Coco and Louie back for a quick hello! Need to bring new ones back soon!

I want to apologize in advance in case this post gets a little "ranty" and I want to let you know that it in no way makes me like my job any less or my clients who have been absolutely incredible! But here goes... I'm pretty sure that up until this point the negatives I've discussed regarding being a freelancer are more like positive negatives. You know, like when you are on a job interview and they ask you for the things you need to improve on, or your biggest weakness, and you turn your weakness into a good thing, like I don't know how to say no or I'm honest to a fault. Well... today, I hate to say it, but I have a true negative.

This is something that I've struggled with but also that a lot of other designers I know struggle with as well. It's usually clients/people who are looking for a design or illustration but don't appreciate the effort and the time it takes to create custom pieces. They want something special, high quality, unique, and perfect, but at the Walmart mass produced price and as speedy quick as a one hour photo.

To explain better, and to clue you in on what caused this rant, a good friend of mine did work for a business owner. She created a beautiful marketing piece for them and when the contract was created it was considered a one-time piece that the client would not get the file or be able to edit. A year later the client contacted my friend asking for the file to edit themselves and did not want to pay for it.  And I know a lot of people might think, ok so just send the file, it's no big deal... but here's the issue... If the client wanted the template to use on their own my friend would have created a completely different contract, cost, and file type. And since her client caught her off guard, she didn't want to offend them, and she was struggling to explain why it wasn't ok. So my friend came up with this analogy:  If you ordered a cake from a bakery, loved the cake, and the next year on your birthday wanted the same one but thought, I'll just call the bakery and ask for the recipe and get it for free. It doesn't work that way for a baker, so why should it work that way for an artist. 

Her client didn't seem to understand that she was getting a product, of very high quality, that any designer would take an incredible amount of time agonizing over every little detail like the spacing between the letters "h" and "e" in the word "the" (and I'm not even exaggerating here). It takes a lot of time and effort. My friend, me, and any other artist I know only puts work out there that they are proud of. It represents them, and the way their work is reflected may attract, or detract, clients depending.

Now my intention is definitely not to offend anyone. Truth is, I've been blessed enough to not have to deal with issues like this often. But I have, just like most of my friends have. And it can be incredibly insulting and frustrating. And we still have yet to figure out the right solution.

I also would just like to say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of my incredible clients and people who have commissioned me for work. I couldn't ask for better clients. Your appreciation of my work and my effort means more to me then I can say.  


  1. Wow...I was worried that I was the only one that has had something similar to this happen. I had a client contact me that said "you can just email me the photos and I can edit them myself". As a photographer my heart just stopped. Just like you explained I have spent long amounts of time on something as simple as removing a blemish to even more time ironing someones shirt with photoshop. I know many people will never realize how much time goes into our craft...I can only hope they notice and are happy with it in the end. The example that your friend gave was pretty spot on...and I may have to use that as an example one day if I go through the same situation again.

    1. I'm glad you understand Kristin, although not glad that you've had to go through something similar. I was worried about posting this. I don't want to be negative but situations like this can be so upsetting. My friend never was able to get her client to understand. She ended up sending her the file but telling her to remove her name and any affiliation with it once the file was edited by the client. She ended up loosing the client but I think she felt ok about it because in the end she didn't really want to work with someone who was going to take advantage of her anyway... but when this is your work and your livelihood it's a hard decision to make... I hope you don't have to go through things like this often and that most of the people you work with appreciate your incredible talent!

  2. i love the work you did for me and i would never edit it, it's perfect! and if i ever did want to edit it, i would have you do it, i'm not going to mess up your hard work! i can't wait until it is up on my blog and on my wall. :) i can't wait to use you for other things! this just makes me sad that people would do this.