If you work in the web design industry, or any creative field for that matter, it is likely that you have experienced a number of requests for free work. Whilst people want the highest quality work, they really don’t want to pay for it – this can be highly frustrating for all designers who are forced to field off requests from family and supposed friends, not to mention those requests that come from complete strangers! If you are yet to come up with a good response for these types of requests, this article may give you a few tips.
- “I’m actually booked up for the next two months, can you ask me again then?”
Whilst this response can seem like you are putting off the problem to a later date, it is actually a way of saying “no” without directly saying it. In most cases, the client won’t be able to wait that long so they’ll find someone else to do the web design work for them or they’ll have completely forgotten by the time two months rolls around.
- “Whilst I do allocate time to free work, I’ve actually used all my hours this quarter. If you could put your request in writing, I’ll consider you for next quarter.”
This response has the same effect as the one above – you are not saying that you won’t do the web design project, just that you won’t do it right now. You should set a limit on how many hours of free work you will do each quarter (say 10 to 20) and stick to it – some free projects, especially those for charities, are worth taking on when you have the time.
- “I’d be happy to do your project for free, but I’ll need you to cover my hard costs for around $__”
Hard costs are things like electricity, purchasing and upgrading software, paper, printer ink, the internet and so on. If you tell a client that you are happy to do their web design project for free, as long as they’ll give you a few hundred dollars to cover these costs, it’s likely that they’ll tell you not to worry about it.
At the end of the day, whether you take on unpaid projects or not is completely up to you. If the request is from family or friends, chances are you will be more tempted to take the web design project on than if it was a complete stranger. It is important, however, to not let people take advantage of you. By setting aside a certain number of hours each quarter for free work and sticking to this amount, you are putting your foot down for people who don’t really need your charity.