Designers, don’t give your work away for free

  • February 11th, 2007

Designers who receive email inquiries for work are undoubtedly familiar with emails from potential clients requesting additional background info, portfolio links, questions regarding previous jobs, or samples. For those that do receive these inquiries, never fall victim to "clients" requesting proposals on your behalf as a preliminary test proving your value and ability to deliver – free of charge.

If you value your work, you deserve compensation and protection for your time and ideas.

Here’s one such example of these types of emails undoubtedly sent out to handfuls of web designers who may have provided their own ideas in hopes of being hired only to have those very same ideas "borrowed" without permission.

My name is [client name removed] with [client site removed], an interactive marketing agency based in [site headquarter]. We are looking to offer approximately $2,000,000 of our design and production work in 2007.

We have found you on [referring site removed] and if you are interested in doing some contract work with us please:

  • Complete the following questionnaire
  • Submit sample work as described at the bottom of this email (You may choose one or both, it is up to you but we would like at least one completed for review) The reason this is required is that in the past, with previous vendors, we viewed portfolios, however, they were misleading. This is the best way for us to see your current skill levels. There will be no coding or revisions, simply your best shot at design.

The end of the email included very distinct details and supporting documents & files to be used in the “review” to be created. It may not be fair to immediately label such emails as unbelievable or unfounded, so take each inquiry with a grain of salt. If you receive similar inquiries, follow-up and do your own research.

Your time and ideas are valuable. If an agency or client inquiries about work samples, redirect them towards previously completed work or request compensation. It is your own responsibility to guarantee the protection of your own ideas and work.