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Designing for family and friends is the bane of many designers.

Opinions vary amongst designers regarding designing for family and friends. Some are firmly against it and for others, it's no problem. I fall into this latter group.

A couple of weeks ago I released an episode on starting a design business from scratch. My second step in the process involved reaching out to family and friends to help spread the word about your new design business. After all, who better to spread the word then the people who know you best, your family and friends. And chances are one of them will become your first design client.

I go into much more detail and share personal experiences in the podcast episode. Be sure to listen to it for the full story. Here is a rundown of what I covered on the podcast.

Setting ground rules for family and friends.

Because family and friends are familiar with you outside of a work environment, you need to set ground rules before agreeing to work with them. If you state the terms of your business relationship with them up front, your dealings should go much smoother.

Here is the process that has worked for me over the years. Keep in mind that everyone's family and friends are different so what works for me may require some adjustments to work for you.

A family member's or a friend's business is still a business.

A business operated by a family member or a friend is still a business, and you should treat it as such. Your relationship with them should not change the way you operate your design business. You need to treat family and friends like you would any other client. Follow your standard procedure by sending proposals, making them sign a contract and issuing an invoice once the project is finished.

Family and friends should not be exempt from good business practices. The only exception I make is offering them a “Family and Friends Discount” of 30% off my design services. I charge full price for all expenses such as printing or web hosting.

Even if you are doing the work for free, you should still use a contract and issue an invoice with a 100% discount. This will teach your family member or friend to value your time and skills by showing them how much you would typically charge for the services you are providing them.

Dealing with personal projects from family and friends.

Family and friends will sometimes approach you with a personal project that has nothing to do with business. They're hoping that the bond between you is strong enough for you to volunteer your time and skills. How you handle these requests is entirely up to you but keep in mind that it's perfectly ok to say no to them.

One option at your disposal is bartering, getting something in return for your services. Family and friends are a great resource for a “favour for a favour”.

The way I handle these situations is to determine if the project in question is personally for my family member or friend. If it's something specifically for them, I'll do it, as a favour to them. However, if they are asking on behalf of someone else or a group they belong to I will treat the project as a business dealing and determine if it merits a discount or not.

Mom's are exempt.

When it comes to your mom, everything I mentioned above goes out the window. The woman put up with all your nonsense growing up the least you can do it offer your skills and time to whatever she asks of you. You probably owe her way more than you'll ever be able to pay back anyway.  

How do you deal with family and friends?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Kayla

In a past episode I remember you saying that you upcharge print materials (i.e. you've designed a brochure and the client wants 500 more of the exact same design. You simply send it to print again). How do you suggest upcharging? A flat rate? Or a percentage?

To find out what I told Kayla you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are a great way to stay connected with our industry and a great source of information when you need help. There are various Facebook Groups for just about any topic. Here are a few I belong to that may interest you.

Resourceful Designer Group

Logo Geek | Logo Design Community

This Design Life

Divi Theme Users

Divi Web Designers


Contact me

I would love to hear from you. You can send me questions and feedback using my feedback form.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business, please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com