Yesterday, I came across a blog post that I could identify with... it's basically about how much designers charge, and what - exactly - they provide. The writer announced that she would be offering design services from her blog, then proceeded to explain what those services were and the fee structure for them. A bevy of comments ensued, basically split smack down the middle of two opinions:
Opinion A said that anyone who puts their work out there on a blog or website or article or book or video, et al, is basically offering those resources free. So to charge for offering advice or assistance, or even for answering specific questions about the information and photos that have already been shared, is ridiculous. 'How dare you!' was the basic message.
Opinion B said that offering information, photos, and work of any sort through the medium of magazines, blogs, websites, videos, etc. is the new way to advertise, maket, and promote one's business and services. Giving a certain amount free is a way to prove your ability to deliver the goods to a paying client. To charge for services, assistance, advice, etc. is what business is all about - not to mention that the fees she quoted were more than reasonable - so more power to her.
I'm with the B people.
'BeeKennedy. BeeMoses. BeeJesus.' (sorry, a bit of movie humor there...)
Honestly, I deal with this situation every.single.day. Yup. In the dozens of emails I receive each day, there are multiple requests for my services and lengthy explanations of why they are needed. I rarely ever get asked what my fees are. When I reply with a suggestion of how I can help, and what my fee structure is, I usually hear 'We are on a budget and can't afford to pay for services like this. We thought perhaps you could help....' I'd LOVE to help! I'm in business to help! I'm happy they found me, asked for help, and am ready to jump in and do so. And my fees are so reasonable it's killing me. But I just can't provide it free of charge.
I look at it this way: I've offered free information, inspiration, advice, and assistance of a general nature here on my blog, on my GHC blog, in my GHC videos, in several community forums, in articles for online web sites, blogs & magazines, all available to the public for free. I know that they are of help & benefit because usually the first line of an email request says 'I learned so much from your article....' or something similar, and I am thrilled to be able to help people by providing those free resources.
But the purpose of all of that time-consuming writing of free information is ALSO to express my ability to offer my services professionally. When someone needs me to provide advice on specific situations for their business, that's something I charge for. (Kind of like a taste of ice cream on the miniature pink spoon is free at Baskin Robbins - but a scoop or two on a cone is gonna' cost ya'!)
Like the designer who posted on her blog, I have devoted myself to education, practice, research, and more to develop the skill, talent, ability, and professionalism to be able to help people. I've chosen to do this work that I love, and it has been the primary occupation of my life since I was thirteen years old. Don't I deserve to be paid for that? Doesn't she? It's not rocket science or brain surgery, to be sure, but design is a valuable service. If I can spend half an hour to solve a dilemma for you that will save you days, weeks, maybe months of searching for answers and missteps, and all of the costs incurred in that, isn't $50 reasonable?
I am having a hard time understanding the rationale of the 'A' position. According to this kind of sideways thinking, I guess I should be able to walk into a store, see displays of product I like and am inspired by, and pick up the product and walk out without paying for it. Because, after all, they put it out there and I saw it, and now why should I have to pay for it?
??? What do you think???
And this time, I'll not forget to add PLEASE be courteous with your feedback. ;0)
Check out the original post and comments to see what I'm talkin' about here... http://mysweetsavannah.blogspot.com/2009/03/design-consultations.html