As I was perusing the blog articles collected by Google Reader, I ran upon an article from Freelance Folder entitled, “Working with Friends and Family: Can it ever work?” The article goes on to discuss how one should go about converting one’s family relations into business relations. I realized that for a seasoned or established graphic designer this is a great article, but for those graphic designers who are recent grads or are new to the industry that might not be such a good idea.
We all dream of the day when we can charge others for our wonderfully creative services, but unfortnately without a impressive portfolio that may not be possible. Sometimes it is okay to work for friends and family for free, but there are strict guidelines to follow when doing so:
Business first, family second. No matter how bad you feel about charging your great Aunt Sarah, you must remember that you want your craft to be taken seriously. Set up meetings and consult them of your projects as you move forward on their project. Inform them of the number of revisions allowed. If sweet old Aunt Sarah was an Joe Schmo Enterprises, would you have a problem charging them for your services? Just think of your relative as any other business client.
Make it clear that this is a one-time pro bono project. Even if you are working for Aunt Clara or your little brother Bryan, make sure that you let them know from beginning that this a one time deal. Let them know that next time you will have to charge them.
Present them with a quote. Even though you aren’t charging them this time, showing them how much this service usually costs will make them appreciate craft. Plus if they need your services again in the future the quote will prepare them for the amount of money they’ll need to enlist your services.
Bartering is an option. If there is a service that you can exchange for the time and work you put in your project, have it. If Aunt Clara’s a great cook and you tend to burn water, you can ask for a few dishes in exchange for your services. Or if cousin Sarah likes watching kids and cleaning up houses, then enlist her services in exchange for your work.
How much do you deal with service requests from family? Speak up.