I recently published this post, which covered my thoughts about “working for exposure” and why I’m not a fan. I get it, it can be tempting, and you’re hungry. But what about the other end… A dear friend mentioned that I should also share the flip side of that post, what if you’re just starting a business and you want some help, but you’re working with a small budget? I wanted to give some tips for appropriately approaching someone when you know you can’t afford their services, but truly value their work and want to work with them.
I recently asked for contributors to the Rule The World Planner, and I felt really uncomfortable doing so. I sat on the idea for a while, and learned quite a bit from the process.
- REACH OUT | First off, if you thought about not even reaching out, I applaud you, you value this person you want to reach out to, and their talent, and you know you can’t afford their regular pricing, but you should 100% still reach out (if you follow some of these tips). Email this person and tell them (truthfully) that you’ve been following/admiring their work and WHY. Don’t just say “I saw this post on instagram and loved it” but you didn’t ACTUALLY even like the post or comment on it. Offer REAL compliments about their work, and show that you have visited their website, looked at their portfolio, and really would love to work with them.
- CONTEXT | This is where you should talk about yourself, your goals, and your small budget. Give context about what you’re looking for. Tell them WHY you’re writing, what do you do (don’t expect they know or are going to click on your website – tell them about your project and goals.
- ASK FOR SCOPE | Ask them how much something like this would cost. Do they charge hourly or for a flat fee? Is this a project they’d be interested in?
- OFFER | Offer something GOOD. Acknowledge your small budget and explain your offer. Are you willing to offer them payment of $50 plus a year of your services, or $100 in your product as an exchange? Make sure you’re offering something of value to them. Maybe they’d be willing to discount their product in exchange for you providing them something. You should be offering something of equal value, even if it’s not just monetary. It’s important here to not value yourself more than this person. Remember, you valued them enough to want them to contribute to your project, make sure it shows.
- BE KIND | This should go without saying, but it doesn’t. BE EFFIN’ KIND. Your kindness goes a long way. You can be totally transparent, voice your small budget, and it’s okay if it doesn’t work out. The same goes for asking for advice – buy someone a virtual coffee (like literally, send a starbucks gift card barcode), for 20 minutes of their time!
- BE RESOURCEFUL | Being scrappy, or resourceful is a good skill to have, but let’s put up some boundaries. I also wrote about working with friends and family, and the advice goes both ways. As a freelancer, set your boundaries. As a business approaching friends and family to do work for you, make sure it’s a good fit. Don’t just ask a friend (who’s a designer) to do your logo for you… check out their website and see if your values align, and that you like their style, otherwise you’re getting a discounted rate, but a product that doesn’t really meet or exceed your needs.
Here’s how it went with my emails about the Rule The World Planner contributors. First, I decided that I definitely wanted to include a few artists I really believe in. It was pretty easy for me to make a list of people I thought would be a good fit. Since this was my first year, I started by emailing four friends who I am really close to. These are people I talk to on the r-e-g-u-l-a-r. I emailed them to remind them of what the planner is, and how I was hoping to include contributors so that the book became less of a portfolio for me, and more of an inspiring tool for entrepreneurs – what it was meant to be all along. Next, I asked for their price. I told them that if they had art they could repurpose (I told them exactly what I was looking for), then I had no problem using something that had already been published, if they didn’t mind! That way they could double dip, save some time, and be included! I gave them a few options about what to contribute (a pattern, a quote, or both), and made sure to let them know if they did participate, they’d be receiving a copy of the planner, along with a box of goodies in August (which I cannot wait to share/curate). They would be receiving credit in the book, and on social media any time I got photos taken of their work.
Next, I did an instagram story, and asked if anyone else was interested, I had enough art, but was open to using less of my own work and show casing some other SUPER TALENTED people. I did the same thing – emailed them after replying on instagram, and mostly learned that I needed more time, and got a better idea of a budget for people I didn’t know that closely. I let them know that I’d like to include them next year, and filed their emails away. I was blown away by the people who wanted to contribute. This was really helpful to help me plan for next year, gauge interest, and give me a dose of reality about how much budget. I wrote back with excitement to each inquiry, and can’t wait to see what happens with next years book!
Did this post help? Have you asked someone to contribute, was it a success or failure? Let me know!