Post-college, my professional career has been with startups.
Some of the pieces that come with working at a startup include: limited budget, wearing many hats, moving swiftly/not being calcified, experimenting, trying different resources until one sticks and working, hard and long hours.
I’ve been paying close attention to our changes and evolution and what really is a simple idea has come to fruition recently. That is, you get what you pay for and quality trumps quantity.
Personally, my two blogs are mini-businesses or as I like to affectionately call them, jobbies (a job + a hobby).
Over the last 4 years of blogging, I’ve been approached with a number of business propositions and people requesting help or exposure.
At first, I said yes to everything. I was new to blogging and was wide-eyed and bushy tailed.
After the first year, I became more discerning in who I worked with and in what capacity. After all, this isn’t a revenue generating monster, rather, a blog where my thoughts and ideas reside. A labor of love (Grace(full) Plate is also very much like that).
I note that I am extremely grateful for all these opportunities and I attribute my blog to business relationships, friendships, boyfriend, jobs and interesting people abound. But I digress…
A while back I was approached by someone (we didn’t know each other) to provide some design work on my blog as they were launching a new design business.
I needed a few things done but didn’t have much energy to devote and had just paid to have the site setup and built. I was offered a highly discounted rate (read: killer price) for exposure to the beginning design work they were doing to help build their portfolio.
After a bit of back and forth, I agreed. I’m pretty relaxed about these things and worst case scenario I didn’t have to use the work, and wouldn’t be out too much money.
What unfolded was a confusing process where I wasn’t sure they had asked for enough information for me in terms of design guidance and frustration on both parts. Furthermore, the project took longer than projected, the communication was lacking, expectations were not set and there were a slew of mistakes made on their end (this is all in email, I can look back and see it now).
I wouldn’t say it was anyone’s fault but the lack of knowledge in client facing work and the difficult task of designing for someone else’s eye and opinion, was apparent. After all, even if I was “difficult” (I don’t think I was out of line) I’m still the paying client and interpersonal skills are imperative.
When I pay someone, I expect to be guided through the process and asked for the resources that I need to provide and then to complete the final project, upload or incorporate those design pieces to my blog (or tell me how to). That didn’t happen. I had to ask many times.
It had nothing to do with this person being a bad person and honestly, I hadn’t worked with a designer much before so I was a newbie as a customer.
When we finally were honest with each other and the project was completed, I wanted to move on and learn from it. It has been quite some time since this happened and the chapter is now closed but it took me some time to realize, at a cheap price that’s likely what you may receive. How could I expect more when it was in that capacity, us both doing each other a “favor.”
I felt bad, of course I would never have wanted it to go down that way. Neither party did. But why was it such a mess?
Same concept as a volunteer. You can’t expect too much from them, as it’s a free volunteer and they often aren’t 100% available or devoted all the time.
Next time, I go through someone I knew (referrals always trump blindly using someone you don’t know or doesn’t have testimonials) and will pay the price that’s worth it. I’ve worked with a couple other designers on different needs since and it was pretty breezy.
You get what you pay for. Simple.