Potential Client (PC): Hello, I have a need for some branding materials and I wanted to get some information on your rates.
Designer (D): Sure, we offer a variety of packages I'm sure you'll be happy with. Is a logo design to be included in the package?
PC: Well, I'm working with a designer on my logo now. He's a actually a really good friend of mine.
D: And how is the logo coming along?
PC: Actually, I haven't heard back from him and we've done tons of revisions that I'm not really happy with. He's got a lot on his plate right now with some of his family coming into town for a couple of weeks, and I'm afraid I won't hear out of him until after they leave.
D: I see. I'm very sorry to hear that. May I ask how much he's charging you for his services?
PC: He's actually doing me a favor and...
What follows is a version of "He's doing it for free to help me" or "A third of what he usually charges". In the end, the tone in the emails become more serious and the voicemails become threatening. The end result? The friendship ends. But what ultimately causes this to happen? Simply put. Money. Or the lack there of.
For the Designer: Never, ever, ever take on a design project from a friend without setting some guidelines right at the beginning. For example, how many revisions will be included in the project or setting a deadline. They're coming to you as a professional, so you need to act accordingly. Just because you've swam in their pool doesn't mean you throw your work ethic out the window. You can't lag on the project because they're asking for way too many revisions or because you charged a third of your normal rate or nothing at all. You entered into an agreement. The mistake you made was you didn't put it in writing.
For the Client: Never ask your friend for a friendly discount. You're better off asking a complete stranger. But that's why you came to your friend in the first place, right? You wanted to save on the costs of design. You get what you pay for, and now you're realizing it's going to cost you more than you bargained for. You're leaving countless messages and have sent loads of emails and you've not heard one peep out of your buddy. He or she is dealing with clients and doesn't have time to go over your project. So what do you do now? Go and spread how awful he or she is on facebook and twitter? No.
It would be in the best interest of the client to call the designer and be completely respectful but honest about the situation. Offer them half of their fee for the work they've already done, and if you were getting the work for free, offer them an amount you feel comfortable paying. At this point, you're not salvaging the project. That's been buried and isn't coming back, so you need to focus on keeping the friendship. If you're the designer, let them know that in retrospect it was a bad idea and you want to offer them the work for free. If you did it for free, count your losses and find them a great designer they'll be happy with.
Avoid all this aggravation. Hire someone you heard great things about but don't have any emotional connection with. Make the investment in your project. From, the designer point-of-view, let your friend know you don't take on friends or family, but if they insist, tell them your rates (maybe add a little extra) and let them make the decision. Most times they'll go somewhere else, which leaves you with peace of mind. Don't let money come in the way of true friendship.
Dennis Salvatier aka Tanoshiboy
Do you have a horror story of your own? Did you lose a good friend? Were you able to salvage the friendship? Do you have advice that you didn't see here? Let us know.