Full Q&A below:
1) Could you give us an overview of your thoughts on free pitching?
T.o.t.a.l.l.y. against it. I have no qualms in doing free work (brief-depending), pro bono or participate in a paid pitch situation, but the free pitching process has to stop.
I was once known as the ‘pitch girl’. I loved the process, I loved the freedom in doing work without knowing all the details, I loved the ‘in an ideal world’ scenarios, I loved the boundaries we could push without knowing all the client challenges. And I was winning. I won many; at one point 8 in a row. It was fun. I worked at an agency who could afford to pitch, which didn’t spark alarm-bells for me, as I was being paid anyway.
The inherent problem, is that pitching remove the opportunity for small businesses to compete. If I were to pitch, for example, I would have to convince an entire team of collaborators to work for free too. It diminishes the value of what we do. And it eliminates the value of what we produce.
I have said no to big business opportunities, especially due to initial responses like: "But, we don’t understand. The other agencies we approached are happy doing it for free.” GOOD FOR YOU. Go work with them then.
Saying no to the most recent pitch (after many to’s and fro’s) was quite hard. But, I tell you what, after 3 days, I was headhunted for something better, paid, and fun! By the same people. It pays off to say no.
2) What alternatives are there to free pitching?
In the world of new business, there are plenty other ways to find new work. I think, as long as you spend your time on what YOU believe in, you can create plenty of work to pull a client. My strategy is, as many others, you are only as good as your last piece of work. And that has become evident as most my clients are personal recommendations from previous clients and collaborators. I also create my own creations/concepts/exhibitions to expose myself. Why would I replace that with working for free for someone else on something irrelevant?
3) What advice do you have for a designer who want to stop free pitching their work?
Dunk yourself in some passion fuel. Seriously, lead by example instead of pleasing clients with showing how much you bend yourself backwards. Strut your own stuff instead. Trust me, they’ll come to you! In terms of finding a new job (not new business), I recommend you fill your portfolio with things you LOVE. As someone recruiting collaborators all the time, I’d rather see your take on Magritte’s flying penis, instead of another bloody press ad. Shock, wow, and make an impression. Show why you do what you do, and what you’d like to do with me. Include pitch work in you book if you like, but decide what your principles are, and stick to them.
4) What do you think of argument like this, saying that free pitching is a necessary reality?
Classic reasoning for if you’ve got the dosh.
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