June 8, 2013

Something for Nothing...

Licensed stock photos from istockphoto.com & shutterstock, plus commissioned work from the Fraim Bros.
In going through my Twitter feed I was reminded about what I found to be a humorous, if not pathetic, attempt by someone to get some free work out of me.

Randall Milholland (@choochoobear) is a webcomic I have been following for years. At times he seems a bit "out there", but I think most of us are, some just do a worse job of hiding this fact.

This morning he went on a bit of a rant about what people expect regarding artists contributions:

Choochoobear Tweets 2013.06.08
I did go and check out the link from the middle tweet. It goes to a pretty funny (and unfortunately accurate) Tumblr feed called All Art No Pay.

All Art No Play is devoted to showing a small selection of Craigslist ads of people wanting free art work for their personal (and usually) commercial projects. Usually the ads "generously" allow the artist to keep a copy of said art project for their portfolio and the pay/benefit for the artist is "exposure". Obviously too many people don't quite get how artist's portfolios work and they definitely don't understand ownership of IP.

I found the Tumblr a fun, because-it-is-too-stupid-to-be-true-but-is, read and I was reminded of a somewhat similar event that occurred to me. As part of some small-business consulting work I have created some inexpensive websites for clients. I'm not a big-time web-designer, but I can do some decent enough work. It isn't my goal to become a web designer and as long as the client's needs aren't above my abilities I can get the job done at a good price. If a client needs something rather complicated/fancy I would direct them to a dedicated professional and I have turned down work that would basically be me taking money for no real work (like creating a real simple blog).

Anyway, I was referred a new friend-of-a-friend-of-a-client who had an idea for a new website. I knew before even meeting with this guy that it wouldn't be appropriate for me, but I figured I'd at least hear him out and try to give him a good referral to the right sort of help he needed. His pitch:

Anonymous/Clueless Photo Courtesy of psdgraphics.com
"I'm looking for a partner on a new commerce website startup."


Christopher Stogdill
"Ok,  I can tell you right now that odds are this isn't something I can help you with, but at least I should be able to get you connected with someone who does internet startups. Tell me about your idea."

Anonymous/Clueless Photo Courtesy of psdgraphics.com"Well, what I need is someone to put together a site where individual wood-workers, not carpenters, but furniture builders and artisans like myself, can easily advertise their work for sale online.  I need my partner to handle the website 'stuff' and all the merchant activities. We'll charge a 25% premium on the items and if we are successful then I'll be able to pay for the site."

Christopher Stogdill
 "Let me make sure I have this correctly. You want someone to come in and do all the work for a new commerce website, pay for everything out of pocket, and if your project is successful then maybe they will get paid back? If you envision this as a partnership can I ask what you plan on bringing to the table?"

Anonymous/Clueless Photo Courtesy of psdgraphics.com
"Well, it's my idea......and I know some woodworkers."

Christopher Stogdill"An 'idea' has no value on its own and only the exercise of that idea creates any worth. There is nothing preventing someone capable of doing this work from simply doing it all on their own, which in reality they would be doing anyway. Besides, haven't you ever heard of Etsy? It costs less than 4% to sell through them. What value are you planning on adding to make up the other 21%?"

Anonymous/Clueless Photo Courtesy of psdgraphics.com

"So you going to help me with this?" 

Christopher Stogdill"As I said, this isn't the kind of thing I do, but I'll try to get someone who can. I wouldn't expect anyone willing to partner up with you though....."



I reached out to an old associate of mine who does a lot of work with internet start-ups and I pitched him this idea. Of course I will admit I did give him a heads-up that I was 99.99% sure that this was a waste of anybody's time. I said I'd pitch the idea so I did. My associate was much more professional about this than I expected, but wouldn't you know it.....nobody wanted to partner up with this guy.

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