Member Offer
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Should forums encourage FREE design?

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum:' started by pcbranding, Jan 16, 2009.

  1. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    Hi, I've been scanning the various business/design forums and noticed that there is a lot of cross-promotion of new/startout designers that want to build up their folios by offering FREE design.

    As much as I understand the reason, I have noticed that those pushing these new designers are in fact linked to printing companies, who ultimately get something out of the design process via the print work.

    My question is, is this really ethical? (Perhaps ethical isn't the right word, but I'm sure you understand.) After all, how can established, experienced designers attempt to attract new work when new clients are being tempted into getting their work done for FREE?

    Ultimately these new designers will want to start earning money once they are established and will then feel the impact of such offers on their business.

    I know this is probably hugely contentious, but what are your thoughts?
  2. Xenonsoft

    Xenonsoft Active Member

    I know what you mean Paul. That's one of the reasons I added a little note to my free design emails that they may well be better off paying a professional to get the work done for the extra cost, and I could point them in the way of some trusted designers.

    It's a dilemma, but I need to get some practice and portfolio work somehow, and this is the best way, learning through real life clients. I've got about 5 jobs to do, and most probably wont accept anymore on top of that.
  3. MarkS

    MarkS Member

    good point, well made

    I think you raised a very good point, and well put accros if I may say.

    I have been in the print & design business for ten odd years, but my portfolio of work doesn't show it, and hence why I put on the free design offer on the board (like yourself, for a limited time).

    I have had very little exposure to web design, and even logo design is very lacking in my current portfolio, so I had to do something.

    Having decided to enrol in a HN level course I will be needing design examples for my portfolio site (part of the coursework), and so when I saw other folk offering the free service I thought, it's against the grain, but needs must :icon_dunno:

    I have had a couple of PM's regarding work through my post, one is a website redesign, and the other a logo and some stationary designs, I have told both clients that while I am not as experienced at both logo & web design, I will do my best, but understand if they do not use my work, all the better if they do tho.

    When I first came onto the forum, I was dubious about the "Free Design" idea, but it has it's place, perhaps some sort of rule that the designer cannot force hosting or printing onto their clients??
  4. Stationery Direct

    Stationery Direct Administrator Staff Member

    Good point and as mentioned above, well put across. :icon_thumbup:

    It's very difficult to keep everybody happy to be honest, I have suggested in the past to designers looking to expand their portfolio to offer design to start-up businesses for free as...
    1) I felt them designing to a fictitious brief and nobody benefiting from these designs was a shame really as there are MANY start-up businesses that cannot afford design.

    2) I think corresponding with a REAL client and listening to their brief was better experience for them...than again making up a fictitious brief.

    3) A happy customer will no doubt spread the word about said designer's "paid for services", in turn securing them possible future orders.
    From a designers point of view I can see the problem as they have no chance of securing a potential job on here if everybody is designing for free.

    People/Businesses have to remember that most designers looking to expand their portfolio are new to the business and only just out of uni, although they have the basics they are not really experienced and hence expanding their portfolio is practice for them.

    If I was looking to have something designed for my business I wouldn't (99% of the time) go with a designer offering their services for free, as I would rather pay somebody experienced to ensure that I get what I need.

    Just my thoughts, unfortunately we are no closer to a solution to keep everybody happy, however, happy to listen to all your views. Afterall this is your forum so whatever you decide (within reason) will be implemented. :icon_smile:
  5. Pete

    Pete Member

    This is by no means my own idea but one way I get around the portfolio building side of things is to do a website for a primary School or charity. I'll only do one a year, and I've only been doing it for a couple of years. This year I'm going to be working on a small brochure site for a local Cubs pack, I'll throw in a simple blog page for them too something free and easy to plug in like Drupal.

    This benefits me as a designer for a couple of reasons.
    1) You can't have too much portfolio work.
    2) Never underestimate the lengths a parent will go to to support their children. By picking a school or charity involving kids, I'm putting myself and my work in front of their parents. The next time they need a web designer they'll think of "that guy who did the site for their kid's school".
    3) I'm putting something back into my community.

    When you're starting out, it's quite easy for older, more experienced clients to take advantage out of a young designer so always approach free work with a little bit of caution. Make sure the client knows exactly what they're getting and how much work they're going to get out of you to avoid any additions to the project that may cost you time (and money!). Treat the job like a paying client, record your time and get a written brief.
  6. Xenonsoft

    Xenonsoft Active Member

    All have raised good points above. I especially agree with:
    I guess the problem comes because people don't realise that the free designs are practice and not finished pieces, or just get drawn in by freebies.
    Great idea Pete. Nothing better then supporting your local community, especially non-profit organisations.
  7. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    Free design

    If a potential client visits a forum and sees someone with experience who's charging for their services, they're not really likely to go with them if there's a designer giving it away.
    This will have a detrimental effect: the 'free' designer will create something to their experience level and the client will leave either happy (= design was free/cheap and got what they wanted due to an eager designer wanting to please) or dissatisfied due to lack of experience and a quality end product.
    They'll think that design CAN be free and will work with that mindset in the future or will have no respect for 'design' as a service.

    I think it's time to even things up and start promoting experienced designers that are great at their job...
  8. Xenonsoft

    Xenonsoft Active Member

    How do you mean even things out and start promoting experienced designers?

    Free advertising? Surely then no-one would pay for advertising. As I said, I openly admitted to not being as good as the top pro's before I took on any jobs.

    I understand you feel hard done by and are struggling for work, but I stand by the fact that fledgling designers should feel free to offer free design services for a limited time.
  9. Stationery Direct

    Stationery Direct Administrator Staff Member

    I totally agree that both parties should be promoted equally, and we do our best to do this...

    If you ever have an offer on your design services then they can be advertised in the Tenders & Services section.

    If you would like to be featured in our Freelance Designer Spotlight then again this is free advertising for your business/services.

    You can also list your business/services for free in our Business Directory

    As mentioned I am open to any suggestions to improve the forum so if you have any good ideas just say :icon_smile:
  10. pcbranding

    pcbranding Member

    Who mentioned free advertising?

    If you read my original thread post, it questions the 'promotion of designers doing work for free' on various forums by posters who have links to printing firms. In other words, I'll push free design and you can come to me for the print!

    I'm not questioning why new designers offer free design, just the ethics of pushing 'free' design over 'paid'

    I am suggesting that these posters could propose experienced designers too!


    Re. 'struggling' and 'hard done by' - don't ever presume or judge anything!
  11. Pete

    Pete Member

    It can be hard for a client with no experience of design to quantify the creative process when they're faced with a bill and a finished product. In my experience with this type of client, the first piece of correspondence I get back after an initial quote goes along the lines of them "know[ing] somebody who does web design and can do it for cheaper, how much can you knock off" Or "If you do this job cheaper, I'll be able to throw more work your way". They'll always go for the cheapest option and they'll always try and push more and more into a brief.

    That's the kind of client I try and stay away from simply because In my experience it's the higher paying clients that give me more creative freedom. The job may involve longer hours but these people have specifically set out to find a professional, which is why they'll trust my judgment. As a result, I only work with clients who contact me directly.

    Personally I don't expect to get much work from this forum, if I can share a few tips and chat with some like minded people then I'll be happy. I understand your point pcbranding but we need to support new designers. For a young designer, looking for his/her first gig this place could become essential.
  12. Xenonsoft

    Xenonsoft Active Member

    I brought it up as a possible answer to ways of 'evening things up' and 'promoting experienced designers'.

    I really don't understand that part. Please explain as I'm probably getting the wrong end of the stick.
  13. Ziplip888

    Ziplip888 New Member

    I think its slightly underhand that a print company will use a forum as a mask to offer free design to make money off the back of their printing but surely they will have to pay an experienced designer to do the work? If thats the case then a designer will be benefitting from this somewhere as they will be getting paid from the printers margin?

    If the printer is using a graduate to design the work for free then the graduate benefits from the experience - which is great - and in the long run will most likely turn around and ask for pay from the printer otherwise will leave for a paid job now that he / she is more qualified to demand....

    I think most people are trying to be as innovative as possible to make money at the moment but i wouldnt have thought that your average client would be going through a forum for designers in the first place...could be wrong though?
  14. KevJaques

    KevJaques Member

    Pete brought up a good point on quantifying the design, clients don't always appreciate the methods, thought processes that go on behind design, they also don't or can't always appreciate the ROI from design either.

    You only have to look at successful brands to see that design can have a huge impact on ROI and can be measured if allowed. Also branching into different areas using the same branding has an overall impact and public perspective.
    This is why going through processes with a more accomplished designer who will offer reasons for their judgment and design choices is crucial to understanding their clients' businesses, it is through those communications that effective designs work for both parties.

    By offering free design can often put a bitter taste in their mouths as others have said, however, it's the old chicken and egg situation whereby some amount of trust is paramount for new designers starting out and eager to please, we are all eager to please but when you are trying to run a business then free doesn't pay the bills.
    I do some charity work with reduced prices but again this is helping both parties in the long run.

    I think there will be more design focused groups going forward and more attention to subtle yet important details, not only that but usability amongst design is key, we are also trying to reduce workload (project permitting) for end designs whether those be for applications or web etc..

Share This Page