Sat 26 May, 2007 07:34 pm
If you have the potential to nab a client that could, in turn, lead to lots and lots of regularly priced business, how much are you willing to discount your services?
In photography there is what is called "shooting on spec" (shooting on speculation of future sales and increased business). A lot of photographers I know do a lot of shooting on spec -- and they do pretty good financially. Especially with senior portraits -- and that is what I've been contacted about shooting.
I have never shot on spec.
But I'm wondering if it is worth the risk.
If your back-door prices become known are you sunk?
What are the pitfalls and what are the benefits of brother-in-law deals?
Years ago, I did a bunch of bike helmet and matching bike tank airbrush jobs on "spec" for a show. All I had was the promise of exposure to my work and a fixed level of work if the bike show promoters liked my work. It worked out well in that I had "the second worst problem"--Too much work for about 3 years straight, all the while I was in grad school and on a research fellowship with all the "scrutiny" that involved, especially by department chairmen who would love to be getting achunk of the project we were working on. Needless to say, my airbrush career was never known by my professional career minders.
I always wonder what I could have become had I stayed in the paint field. No, it ws good and the infusion of cash was easy money and it was good exercise for the other side of my brain. I think.
Boomer I have just invented some really good paint. its a nice colour and goes on really easily. Heaps of people have said its really good and the colour is perfect for you.
do you want to buy some.
I cant make it until you agree to pay for it but it is really good.
Ok just for you I have made a batch on spec here it is. Have a look.
If you really like it you can buy a truck load.
I cant make it any cheaper because I have done my homework and that is what it will cost me to make it also any competitors will charge you just as much.
I'd make it very clear that your "special' rate is Seniors Only.
Working on spec is a disturbing -- and growing -- trend
Working on spec is a disturbing -- and growing -- trend
Boston Business Journal
May 24, 2002by Sean Lorenz, art director at Monsoon in Waltham
The phone rings. A company heard from a friend of a friend that your firm has done some interesting design work. They'd like to set up a meeting to talk next week. You research the company's history, what they do, and how you can help them out.
The day of the meeting, you head over to their office, stellar portfolio in hand. Things seem to be going well as they explain their situation, leafing through your portfolio all the while.
Then they drop the bomb: "This is nice, but we were hoping you could show us some examples of what our stuff is going to look like."
Welcome to the world of speculative work.
The recent downturn in the market hit graphic-design professionals especially hard, since advertising and marketing are among the first elements to be cut from a company's budget. With this downturn, there has been a disturbing rise in speculative graphic design projects. And it's not just free-lancers and out-of-work pros who are affected. Firmly established design firms and agencies are also using this technique to compete for business.
For those unfamiliar with the lingo, "working on spec" basically means designers get paid if the customer likes your work. If not, they get nothing. There are several elements that both designers and clients need to keep in mind when deciding on a spec proposal stance.
The first thing to remember is that time equals money. It may be cliché, but it's true. Instead of doing design work for free, you could be devoting more time to existing clients and solidifying their happiness. It's also time that is better spent finding business that will pay. Even worse is when prospective clients want second and third revisions made on their spec work.
Put another way, does a hot dog vendor offer the first one for free? Will he or she give you a second if the first was a little heavy on the mustard? Probably not -- or else said vendor would soon be out of a job. Creating an original logo, ad or overall corporate identity from scratch takes time, which is already a premium commodity. And redesigning that ad at no cost compounds the problem. As a professional graphic designer, it's important that prospective clients understand that your creative output is the professional service you provide. Unless you're taking a car for a test drive or sampling an egg roll in the supermarket, hand-outs don't come easy in the business world. Design should be no exception.
Another reason to reconsider accepting that spec job is the safety of your work. For the most part, guarding your concepts from theft is not a concern, However, it's better to know the risks beforehand. If a company sees the spec work and decides to not utilize your services, they may still incorporate or elaborate upon concepts of your design either in-house or elsewhere. This is especially a concern for web site designers. The majority of web designers doing spec work will bring screen shots on paper for the client to look at, finding it unwise to show a spec site on live media.
Another reason to avoid spec design whenever possible is the fact that such work reduces the industry to one big design competition with no rewards for anyone. The bottom line is this: Designers must stick to the basic principles of design and keep in mind their target audience. This alone will generate success, regardless of economic roller coaster rides. With that in mind, it would be a shame if spec work became standard practice.
Finally, let your portfolio speak for itself. Many times a potential client called because they either saw something they liked from your firm's design history or were referred to by an existing client. By flipping through a portfolio presentation, company executives can quickly get a feel for what your firm's methods may be. Obviously, that perfect match isn't always going to happen, which is the reason for best representing the gamut of a design and/or advertising firm's capabilities within a portfolio.
Still, new clients are the lifeblood of any successful business. So how does one carefully decline a spec-first request and still be considered for the job? First and foremost -- be respectful. For many businesses, this is the first time they've thought about using this kind of service, therefore the process of picking an ad firm can be a completely foreign process. Be willing to guide a client and explain the process in a clear and concise manner.
By remembering these basic principles, both customer and designer alike can go back to the office happy.
That's what I worry about! People who want you to do a bunch of work for free, and then do more, and more.
And senior portraits can take a LOT of time in retouching, etc. And it is so easy for people to simply steal stuff these days. Once they steal it they make horrid computer prints and it is easy for your name to get associated with low quality production.
I will probably take the plunge but I know I really need to rethink the whole presentation and selection of images.