san fransisco

Contribute something

I recognize the importance of building my practice in my community. Along the way, I have been asked many times to do some work for no cost. Sometimes I’m in, and other times not. I do have a few organizations and projects that I am personally connected to, and to which I donate my graphic design services happily.

Many of my clients are long distance, so I am always looking for new opportunities closer to home.

As graphic designer, there is always a new article talking about avoiding work-for-hire, and the pitfalls of doing this type of work. I even discuss this with my students.

Here are my criteria for accepting a pro-bono project:

a. It this cause one that I have a connection to?

b. Will the work be portfolio worthy? (Not all projects—including paid ones—can deliver on this goal.)

c. Can the job be done in a reasonable amount of time?

d. Is it local?

I judge each situation individually and decide for myself, sometimes being influenced by my current workload.

I do promote to my professional circles that I do this work pro-bono. I believe it’s important that they know I contribute in my community as a professional. I also include this point when discussing work-for-hire and how it is distinctly different from pro-bono work with my students.

PS: I do give pro-bono clients an invoice that states the value of the work and discounts the balance to $0. This provides a record of my contribution to this work, and the clienthas a defined cash value of my contribution—which translates to a lot of appreciation.

It’s your story, but let a professional tell it. Hire a copy writer, really!

Okay, this is a pet peeve of mine.

As a professional graphic designer, I want your project to be as successful as possible. I don’t want our hard work to end up being sub-par. We must go through all the steps in the creative process. Its difficult to be successful when taking shortcuts.

Over my career, I have worked with many small businesses. The owner or the marketing director sends me some copy that’s not very well thought out. Now, of course you know your business best—but if you can’t communicate your message clearly to me, then chances are pretty good that you can’t communicate it to your customers in the best possible light. Please, hire a professional writer.

If you care about how you are perceived by your customers and your competition, your brand and your business investment, then hire a copy writer—as you would hire an accountant or a lawyer. This is a not good area to save some money.

I have known clients to stay up all night, trying to write and organize their content. You know your message, but you are not a writer, you are a professional…fill-in the blank… and a good one. You are expert at your job, but writing is probably not your job. If you are smart enough to hire a designer, then hire their writers as well, or get your own. Put your best message out there, and let it be written by a professional. I promise, this will be an excellent investment.