10 Reasons Why I Can’t Work On Your Project.
Before reading on, I want to point out that this post is not out of selfishness, I actively seek to provide as much advice and value to people on and offline as physically possible. But when it comes to individuals asking me to do work for them, often for free, very little, or on unrewarding projects. It takes up a severe amount of time and I can no longer sustain that extra workload. Therefore, I’ve put this piece together to explain why your project might not be right for me. It’s not that I do not wish to help you, but the problem associated with taking on too much are several fold. I also provide some solutions at the bottom of the page, for ways to get a good result on a shoestring budget.
Note* This message doesn’t apply to the small handful of people who I see and work with every day. There are some people that have helped me more than I could ever repay and for them I will always help.
1. Giving you advice is called ‘consulting’ and people get paid for it.
The first thing that is becoming increasing problematic for me is that people want me to offer them a lot of advice for free. I generally don’t mind this at all, but it changes when a quick tip here and there turns into hours of my time being taken up to improve your business. I even don’t mind doing that sometimes, if people take action on the advice. But most people are lazy and rarely do. This only adds to the frustration of dedicating significant amounts of time. I give out a lot of advice on my blog for free, and if you can’t find anything there, then I’d recommend attending one of my Meetups or talks.
2. I have to prioritise my time
I get up between 5–6am and go to bed at 11pm, and rarely stop in between. I never prioritise work that I’m doing for free over personal work that I consider important. If I always prioritised the work I’m doing as a favour I would see little progression myself. This leads to frustration on your part because the work isn’t executed fast enough, and often with insufficient care. This leaves you with a negative impression of my professionalism and adds additional pressure to me.
3. I’m not loaded.
If I had an abundance of cash, I might be inclined to work for less, for the sake of being philanthropic and helping where I can. However, this is not the case and any time spent working for little or nothing, is time I am losing to either pitch, work or think, all of which are essential to sustain my work and pay the rent.
4. It’s a matter of reputation.
As far as design, ideas and strategy is concerned, I am kind of like an a la carte chef. I have spent years working on my craft, and to ask me to do a quick favour, that ‘doesn’t have to be anything amazing’ is like asking Gordon Ramsey to serve up a McDonalds cheese burger. Not only would he never do it, if he did it would affect his reputation.
5. Money doesn’t make shit work good.
Even when you’re offering me money, if the work isn’t interesting to me I’d rather not do it. I try and work on the basis that every project is either going to teach me something new, be extremely fun, push me forward, or provide significant financial incentive. Most projects I get offered deliver none of these, so I have to be picky as to the projects I take on. I’ve worked on literally hundreds of creative projects for some of the largest brands in the world; very few projects get me excited. So asking me to work on resizing images for social media is never going to happen.
Note* It’s possible to resize images using system software, Google it.
6. Designers do more than make logos and websites.
I know a lot of people think that the role of a designer is to produce graphics. For me however, the making of graphics is just one responsibility of a designer, and arguably the one that makes me tick least. I’ve learned the skills out of necessity to express my ideas. I much prefer working on idea generating and strategy for clients. I like people to work with me because I’m the best person for the job. If I’m not, I’ll tell you who is.
7. I’m cheap as it is.
Design in recent years has become severely undervalued due to crowd source services that offer work for a fraction of the price charged by professionals. In 1986, Paul Rand created the NEXT computer brand for Steve Jobs for £100,000. I however, am lucky to get between £1000-£5000 for a brand. For anything less, I’m not interested. But I do offer a suggestion for getting a good but cheap logo below.
8. Design is an investment.
On the subject of effectiveness, the work I create is normally designed to make money. A logo for example, if well designed, will attract customers and help you differentiate in a crowded market. The fact you’re coming to me to work on your design or strategy suggests that you’re serious about your business and are prepared to make the investment. If you’re not, I’m not interested.
9. But you helped them out.
When you ask me to work for free or at reduced cost, other people expect the same treatment. It’s hard for me to offer reduced rate services to one friend, without doing it for another. By doing this I am neither conditioning you, because if I do you one favour you’ll inevitably want multiple. Or my potential customers, because they will likely hear of me as a result of someone suggesting I helped them out for cheap.
10. When was the last time I asked you for something for free?
I would never expect you to work for me for free. So please don’t expect me to do the same. As a general rule of thumb, my day rate is £250 a day for work I enjoy doing, and £350 a day for work I’d rather not do. Nothing personal, but if you like my work; it’s nice to know you’re happy to pay for it.
The advice I offer to the requests I most often receive.
1. How to create a logo for little to nothing.
If you want a decent logo for cheap, I suggest going to Branding Served.Branding served is a selection of the best branding projects on Behance, the world largest creative network. Shortlist multiple designers whose work you like, and then approach all of them independently stating up front your low budget. Most designers will say no, but it’s a numbers game. Inevitably, someone will say yes. Finding a good designer outside the US or UK is your best bet because your currency will be stronger.
You can also help your case by having a base design created already. Most designers will look at it and cringe. However, if you’re set on your own idea, then saving the designer having to be a mind reader will get you one stage closer to a finished design. Saving the designer time and you money.
Note* To expand on this… It’s not typically advisable to have an idea already. The chances are that you’re not trained enough to sufficiently research the competitors and visual preconceptions to work out the best solution for the market you’re going into. However, because it’s your money, I understand that you have an opinion. Often designers will bend to your will even if it it’s detrimental to the projects result. I am not one of these designers. If a client has an idea in mind and it’s a bad idea. I will tell them. If they insist on it anyway, I will encourage them to work with another designer.
Finally, another technique is to use a high resolution screenshot to give you a base vector to manipulate in illustrator. This only really works if you have illustrator skills but you can use the technique to save the designer time if you have a partiucular type style in mind. I’ve put together this tutorial to show you what I mean.
Recently however, I’ve started experimenting with the various site builder platforms and I’ve realised the game is up. 80% of the sites I’ve worked on in the last year should have been created on Squarespace.
Note* Squarespace doesn’t have an affiliate program so I’m not making money for recommending this.
The chances are you need to first validate your idea before spending a significant sum of money on a unique website. And the best way to do that is through a site builder such as Squarespace or Webflow. As someone who doesn’t code myself, I recently transferred all my sites over to Squarespace from Wordpress because I can manage and manipulate it myself. The templates they provide are also very well designed.
I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it saves you paying thousands in up front costs and a couple of hundred pounds every time you want a change something. When you build an audience of 5000+, I might recomend opting for a personalised solution. Until then, be happy to pay only pay £5 a month to have a beautiful and easy to use website powered by Squarespace, it’s the best solution.
Note* An idiot could use the platform and they’ve got a huge automated database with help videos and 24 hour assistance for any questions you may have. So please don’t ask me to build your Squarespace site for you.
I hope this post is useful, and if you’re a friend receiving this looking for a free logo. Please dont be offended…. you cheap bastard! I still love you ;