In exploring both sides of the spec work debate (at least as objectively as I can), I found myself on a web site that fervently promoted against the "exploitation of creative freelancers". This by itself it didn't really catch my attention, but what did was that the organization encouraged freelancers to slap one of their organization's logo/icon on designer's web site boldly telling clients that they refuse to be exploited and won't do spec work.
While I won't get into whether designers should do spec work or not (I don't...but that's another story), the idea of slapping a sticker like this on my web site to warn clients seems strikingly similar to putting up razor wire - not a good idea in my opinion. In fact, I want to appear as welcoming to clients as possible, and warning stickers don't exactly fit in that approach.
I thought about what it would be like to be in the client's position - they find a designer's web site, and one of the first things that catches their eye is a neon warning sticker in the side bar. So one of the client's impressions is not, "I am glad you're here", it's "Don't screw with me" - not good for attracting clients.
you're a freelancer out there that has one of these warning labels, you're
probably chomping at the bit right now...easy. Hey, it's your right to slap as
many warnings on your site as you want - heck, you can even put a Surgeon
General's warning on there for all I care. But I will tell you that clients
aren't going to feel all that welcome, furthermore most clients I've run into don't even
know what the heck spec work is. It's like warning tribes people in some remote village in the Congo
Most small business owners I've talked to don't even know what spec work is.
I've got no problem sticking to your guns on this spec work issue, but you don't have to point your guns at client's even before they decide to call you. If you're looking to attract folks, get rid of the stickers and the warnings. If by chance you get a rat bastard that tries to get you to do spec work (as I have in the past), THEN you deal with her/him.
Swayze said it best in the silly but still entertaining movie, Roadhouse, "I want you to be nice
until it's time to not be nice."
Agree, disagree? Drop me a comment, and please feel free to retweet it or share it.
PS - Jacob Cass has a comprehensive post on this with a lot of differing viewpoints on this subject (including a few of my older posts) - you'll definitely want to check out his thoughts.
PPS - I stumbled on this nice clip with Seth Godin - he's about 40 seconds into the clip, he briefly touches on why some clients treat others (including freelancers badly...trying to take advantage of them).