Your guide to friction-free designing for friends and family

As a graphic designer, you may often find yourself in the position of having family and friends ask you to do design work for them. While this can be a great opportunity to showcase your skills and help those close to you, it can also come with a variety of challenges.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of working with family and friends, the debate over discounts or doing it for free, and provide an email template for dealing with these requests.

Pros of Working with Family and Friends

One of the main benefits of working with family and friends is the trust that already exists between you. Your loved ones likely know your design style and capabilities, and they may feel more comfortable approaching you with their needs than hiring a stranger. Additionally, working with family and friends can be a great way to build your portfolio, gain experience, and potentially attract new clients through word of mouth.

Cons of Working with Family and Friends

Despite the benefits, there are also drawbacks to working with family and friends. One potential challenge is managing expectations. Since your loved ones know you personally, they may expect you to offer them discounts or even work for free. Additionally, the lines between personal and professional relationships can become blurred, which can lead to misunderstandings and tension. Lastly, there is always the risk of your family and friends not valuing your work as they would if they hired someone else, which can be demotivating.

The Debate over Discounts or Doing it for Free

One of the most significant debates surrounding working with family and friends is whether or not to offer discounts or work for free. On one hand, you may feel inclined to help out those closest to you, and offering discounts or free work can be a way to show your appreciation and support. On the other hand, you are a professional, and your time and skills have value. Offering discounts or doing work for free can set a precedent and make it difficult to charge full price in the future. It is essential to consider the time and effort required for each project and decide whether offering a discount or doing it for free aligns with your professional goals.

There are some designers that prefer to to do work for free with boundaries set up in advance, since that allows them more control in general. Since the work was not paid for at all, the designer has all the balls in their court and can feel like they call the shots.

No matter if you do the work for free or discount, you need to make sure that you have some boundaries in place so that there is no resentment.

Some boundaries may be:

  • When and how you are available to talk about the work: You can decide that you can only correspond via email, which gives for a more official separation between business and personal life talk. You can also have specific times of day that you are available to communicate with them
  • You can specify that you cannot do rush jobs. You can tell them if you need a rush job, I can refer you to a different designer (this way you do not have to feel pressured into twisting yourself into a pretzel.
  • If there are certain types of jobs you feel you cannot do discounted or free, say so and refer them to another designer
  • and lastly, you need to be honest with yourself. If you are not happy to do the work at a discounted or free rate, do not do it. You can always tell your friends or family, that you treasure your relationship with them above all and that you will be happy to refer them to a designer friend of yours (and if you need some, I can refer you to one of our grads!)

Here is an email template that will help to help you out!

Dear ,

Thank you for reaching out to me about your design project. As a graphic designer, I am always happy to help friends and family with their design needs. However, I wanted to clarify a few things before we move forward to make sure we are both on the same page.

While I am happy to offer my services , I do have some parameters that I need you to follow. Firstly, I ask that you please be respectful of my time and resources. Even if the work is free or discounted, it still takes time and effort to create high-quality designs. I may need to prioritize paid work or other commitments, so please be understanding if there are delays.

Secondly, I would appreciate it if you could provide me with as much information as possible about your project. The more details you can give me upfront, the easier it will be for me to create designs that meet your needs. This includes any specific colors, fonts, or design elements that you would like me to incorporate.

Lastly, I ask that you please communicate any feedback or changes to me in a clear and timely manner. This will ensure that the design process goes smoothly and we can create a final product that you are happy with.

If you are willing to follow these parameters, I am more than happy to work with you on this project. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Best regards,

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