You Want A Free Mock Up? Sure, I’ll Get Right On That!

free mockups

My first job dealing with the Internets was for a company called, CSP Internet. It was based in Victoria, BC. I remember sitting in on a web meeting with a senior project manager and a potential new client. The “client” asked if we could do a free mockup and based on that he would decide if he’d continue on with us. I thought it seemed like a fair request, but the senior project manager, shut him down. She told him, “we don’t do free.” We never heard from the client again.

I couldn’t believe what had happened. We gave up a potential client. The project manager looked at me and said, if you don’t value your time, no one else will. 15 years later, it’s finally sinking in.

Every now and again, you’ll come across a client asking for a free mock up. Their “argument” is, “if we like what you do, it could lead to getting the full job.” They become confused if you say, no.

Here is what I have learned to tell the client:
If I did free mock ups for everyone, I’d never have time to do any paid work.
How do I prioritize my schedule? If I am doing a free mock up for you, and someone else wants to pay me for a job, do I ask them to wait?
Mock ups are a process.  It involves good communication and they typically go through a few stages before sign off. Rarely are mock ups perfect on the first round. To judge our ability based on one mock up, is short sighted.
The few hundred dollars you’ll pay for the mockup will work towards the final cost of developing an entire site.

It’s a very competitive market, but if you have a solid portfolio and a good list of happy clients, there is no need for you to do free work. Your list of completed sites should be enough to demonstrate that you have the necessary skills to create and develop something quite effective.

If someone has an issue with paying you for your time, they’re always going to have an issue paying you. Also, do not work for free based on promises of paid work in the future. “Oh yeah, hey…I have another site I want you to do after this one…”. They’ll tell you about all these other projects they are working on hoping you can give them a deal on one of them blah blah. The funny thing with plans is, they tend to change. Steer clear of these situations.

Don’t give your time away. It’s time off your life. It shouldn’t come cheap.