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pro-bono or discounts for first client[s] ?

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I've been working on my first map for several months [I welcome your critiques for it here - http://www.cartotalk...?showtopic=7732 ]. Out of the blue, a local non-profit organization commented on my blog (where the map is hosted, online) and asked if I could donate a printed copy of the map to them.

Since I haven't sold a map yet (I haven't even printed it yet, but I am looking very shortly for it to do this), I'd like some exposure, a potential (paying) customer, but at the same time, I would like to be paid so I can continue doing this.

I've worked for non-profits, I understand the financial difficulties of many non-profits. However, I probably don't have enough money in my bank account to pay for a single print of it (3x4 feet, color).
Right now, I'm relatively sure that I'm at least going to ask them to cover the cost of printing (and leaning towards charging them what I'd charge a normal customer...).

For those were once in a similar experience to me, what did you do ? Did you give price breaks to your first customers ?



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A one-off print shouldn't cost the earth - as long as you're not expecting litho quality.
As they're non-profit and on the exposure basis I'd give them a copy for free, just make
sure there's a prominent note advertising your services and contact details - you never
know where it may lead...
Good luck starting out.

Erin John LeFevre

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I'm not a big fan of giving work away in exchange for exposure. I think it devalues your work and sends the wrong message. How many other businesses in your community give away their products for free? I would start by offering a discount. Maybe see if they'd be willing to cover the cost of the print. Seems like a healthier relationship. Just because they're a non-profit doesn't mean you should absorb the cost. My 2 cents.


Charles Syrett

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I agree with Erin on this. Any business advice I've seen is opposed to this kind of thing. Do you think the non-profit asks for a discount on their hydro? utilities? rent?

That being said, I have donated my services in the past, but only to organizations that I strongly support. Interestingly enough, none of them expected me to do this!

Another thing you can do is to do the work for your normal amount, but also offer to give them a tax-deductible donation.

Charles Syrett
Map Graphics

David Medeiros

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I think if skorasaurus were already established and otherwise making money from the product or any other cart related work I would at least partially agree that it's a bad idea to just give it away.

But in this case (unless I'm mistaken) the map has never been printed or sold and he's just beginning to experiment with cartographic services or products for pay. I'd say giving them the file to print would be a great way to get something out there (make sure you brand it and put contact info on it). I'd make them pay for the printing but let them have the file for free - making sure they understand the real value here is in the work you've done, not the print itself. You might also suggest that you would love to work with them on designing a version tailored to their use for a small fee. You might get some design and customer service experience out of this that can bolster your portfolio and resume. And remember they may say no now but contact you down the road for real work.

When getting started a freelancer has make some sacrifices on occasion to gain experience and grow your network. When applied with some thought and balanced with other less tangible benefits, taking a monetary loss on work can still pay off. Think of it as an investment in your career.

Good luck.
GIS Reference and Instruction Specialist, Stanford Geospatial Center.


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