Fredericton — Local freelance graphic designer Evan Porter says that it’s tough to make a living working for yourself, and it’s even tougher when clients hire him for a task, only to suggest he “just have fun with it” well after it’s finished.
“Fun doesn’t grow on trees, unfortunately. Nor does it pay my rent. Not in this economy,” said Porter, who was skimming through an email containing no fewer than 476 changes to a two-page document he’d designed for a local startup.
“Every time I think I’ve given my all to a particular project, I’ve slaved over it day any night and sent the invoice, clients will get back to me and say, ‘Evan, this is great! But I’d really like you to just have some fun with it — really make it your own!’ At that point I add a line to the invoice titled ‘fun’ and double whatever the total charge was, pre-fun. It’s the only way they’ll learn.”
We spoke with one of Porter’s clients, an ad agency from Ontario.
“We can’t afford to pay people much — well, not in money — but we strongly encourage them to have fun,” reported Megan Dorchester, head of marketing. “Really just go wild with it! As long as they stick within our initial vision and change nothing, while working all weekend to please an entire committee of people who can’t agree on anything, then the world is their oyster! We try not to box people in or stifle their creativity in any way.”
Porter told us that last year, a big client sent him to the Disney World resort in Florida for an annual report design conference. Not being a single middle-aged woman or a young family of four, Porter did not wish to attend, but he sucked it up and tripled his “fun factor” design fee.
“I can’t be travelling all over the world on these time-consuming ‘fun’ trips. The client kept saying that for it to be worth it to them, the ‘fun’ I had at Disney would need to directly translate to ‘fun’ in my future designs in a measurable way. They wouldn’t give me any specifics of what that meant, but they said they’d ‘know it when they see it.’
“Well, that little bit of fun cost them a few thousand extra. Not my problem,” he added with a shrug.
Economists are debating whether fun is worth more than exposure.
“Exposure is the main currency of the gig economy,” said economics expert Dr. Taylor LeGrow. “You have to work for a couple of years to get your name out there, after that you may even be paid to have fun with projects.
“We have yet to learn whether freelancers prefer exposure over fun, or vice-versa. No, we haven’t asked them, but they sure look like they’re having a good time, just hanging out in coffee shops with their laptops and working during their lunches at their real jobs or overnight to meet a deadline. What a sweet deal!”
Just when Porter thought the fun was over, an email with the subject line “Revisions Folder 23 — have fun!” appeared in his inbox.