in regular

On freebies and “work” on the web

So how would I get a web site for a non-profit that has no budget?

We’ve surely heard this question before, no? I’ve spent nearly an entire term in the classroom talking about the value of work and how, if people don’t understand what goes into something it’s hard for them to value it.

For too many people, work on the computer is still voodoo magic that gets done by people who haven’t found serious jobs yet. Sure, some of them get rich doing it, but they’re completely off the mental radar for the purposes of these conversations.

Consider that people are more willing to pay someone to shovel their snow, cut their lawn, provide them with processed foods or any number of other things. But when it comes to building a web site as a promotional vehicle for their own projects, they never want to pay. I realize that for some organizations that rely almost entirely on donations this is not a new thing. And they target companies that might be more willing to offer up this kind of work because they can handle it. But the larger the firm, the more significant the request seems to be.

We have a¬†responsibility¬†if we’re working on the web to no longer dismiss how hard something is. It’s alluring to see like the smartest person in the room when you can or to make things seem easy and not like a bother. But the difference between the paperboy on his bike and the graphic designer on her iMac, is people can watch the paperboy and if he were to fall could probably help him complete his route. If the lady on the computer needs something, her client would be a creek.

Since I’ve never worked strictly as a web person, but rather, a strategist I can understand the need to have quality portfolio work. It’s also important to be able to eat and I can think of few industries where investing significant amounts of time and energy working for free, will yield you the sorts of results you want.

Paid gigs are harder to find, but come with many of the same constraints and demands as the free ones. Using your own discretion is the best way to decide when to choose to do free work and when not to. But if we don’t take the work we do seriously, it’s going to be universally hard to convince other people of the same things.

In response to the question the person asked about a site for a non-profit with no money, I hesitated, before finally explaining a breakdown of the various free solutions online that might serve the purpose he was describing and mentioning how cheap a domain would cost, much to his surprise.

Education trumps misinformation, but if no one provides the information, people will continue to remain ignorant about the work that goes into what they perceive as whiz-bang magic.