Monday, August 29, 2011

Before You Give Away Creative Advice, Check Out the "Helping Friends Manifesto."

If you have a creative talent -- writing, website development, photography, marketing, design and layout, etc. -- chances are about 100% that friends and family sometimes say, "Do you think you could 'give me a hand with/just take a look at' [fill in the blanks]… "

You're a nice person and, of course, you want to help. But before you do, you might want to hand off a copy of the Helping Friends Manifesto (HMFM). Otherwise, after you freely share, you could hear any of the following:

1. I really like what you've done here. Can I make changes?
2. This is good. Could you give me the original file so I can play with it?
3. I don't like this font. Can we try some other choices?
4. Would you mind if I ran this by another friend who's a [pick one: marketer, writer, designer, web developer]?
5. Why did you put THAT, THERE?
6. I hate that picture.

The Helping Friends Manifesto
I'm flattered that you've asked me for help. Normally, I charge (quite a bit) for this type of work, but I can definitely get you started for free. I want this to be fun for both of us, so it might help if we set some ground rules.

1. If you have a concept in mind -- style, tone, appearance, layout, color, wording, headlines, copy, tagline, headers, font -- please share your thoughts before I begin. The more detail, the better.

2. If you don't have a concept in mind -- in other words, if you are a blank slate who is simply saying "I need a brochure" -- let's agree that you have come to me for my skill and experience, upon which it makes sense to rely.

3. In this project, I am taking the lead as expert. Agreed?

4. Does the following statement sound like something you might say? "I don't know what I want. I only know what I don't want." If this is true, please provide me a point-by-point list of what you don't want. Otherwise, I won't be able to help you with this project.

5. Does the following statement sound like something you might say? "I don't like it. I don't know why. I just don't like it." Please understand that, in the hands of a professional, creative choices are driven both by talent and by reason. I will be able to tell you why I made a certain choice, so -- in turn -- please be able to tell me why you think a particular choice won't work. Otherwise, please see #3, above.

6. Typically, my work includes one round of reasonable changes/alterations as part of the fee. Beyond that, I charge "x" dollar per hour. Therefore, while I can draft something for you and make one set of reasonable changes, a wholesale "makeover" is not part of the deal. Note: Time constraints related to my paying work make it essential that I assume the role of "decider" as to what's "reasonable." Agreed?

8. We are both free to say to one another, without rancor, "Let's give this a rest."

--scrubbed by MarketingBrillo