Ask DN: Working for parents / relatives?

10 years ago from , Data Graphics Editor @ Vocativ

I think a lot of my relatives just think of me as 'that kid who can build websites'. I'm sure all of you are familiar with that feeling. A lot of their ideas are ridiculous, but some of them might actually be cool, or it's worth my time to help them.

How do you go about doing design/creative work for parents/relatives? Do you treat them just like a client? Do you have special practices to make sure things don't go sour? Do you just not do it?

Looking forward to your thoughts!


  • Fred YatesFred Yates, 10 years ago

    In my opinion, steer clear. Even if they're a paying relative it's impossible to maintain a strictly client/designer relationship. Relatives can easily take advantage of you, even if it's unintentional and when this is the case it's very difficult to produce good design.

    It's much harder to say no to bad design decisions when you're dealing with someone you have anything more than a business relationship with.

    3 points
  • Wes OudshoornWes Oudshoorn, 10 years ago

    I have quite an easy solution. I treat them as any other client and make them pay 100%, or I do stuff for free and they don't get any rights.

    0 points
  • Connor Tomas O'BrienConnor Tomas O'Brien, 10 years ago

    If your relative is familiar with your work, and is willing to approach you on a professional level from the get-go, I'd say go for it.

    Here's how you know they'll be fine to work with: - They've viewed your portfolio - They understand your specific capabilities and limitations - They've contacted you through the correct channels (work email as opposed to cornering you at a family function) - They have at least asked you to quote for your work (even if you are willing to do the work for free, it's polite on their part not to assume you will)

    However, I'd advise against working for them if: - They simply assume you'll either work for free or for cheap - They haven't bothered to view your previous work and simply think of you as "that kid who builds websites"

    It should be pretty clear whether they fall on one side of the coin or the other.

    0 points
  • Achal VarmaAchal Varma, 10 years ago

    So, I had this uncle who wanted me to build him a website for a new business he was setting up, and I was more than happy to help. The money he said he'd pay me was no small amount, and especially since I was starting college the following fall, I thought I could use the pocket money. He didn't specify a concrete time-frame for the completion of the project. So I worked my butt off building a custom WordPress theme for him. Made all the assets, and worked on that thing for close to 2 months. One fine day, I tried to log in to the server we were developing the website on, and it didn't let me in. I tried calling my uncle, but he didn't pick up my phone, or respond to my emails. Two weeks or so later, I happened to google the company's name and their new website popped up in the search results. When I opened it, I realized that he'd hired someone else to complete the project, but had used all the stuff I had made the for the project, like the logo, the images and the WordPress theme. They hadn't changed anything! The next time I met my uncle at a family gathering, and asked him what had happened, he just shrugged it off and told me I was too slow.

    From then on, things have gotten really awkward between us. I didn't get any money for the work I put in, but my work is still live for the world to see. :(

    0 points
  • Tim SmithTim Smith, 10 years ago

    My rule is, that for my parents, I will always do design work, without pay. Hell, they brought me into this world. But, I don't do any design work for any other relatives. I agree with Fred, it gets difficult to manage the relationship and I've had relatives be late on payments because they think, "Tim will understand".

    0 points