A friend referred me to a potential client who had a business idea but zero experience in the area.
Me: what is your business proposal? Given a rough outline, some details can be filled in later.
Client: Basically, I want to start a greeting card company and I need a designer – hopefully, you – who can design and produce art for the cards!
Me: Okay! So would you pay me by commission or through co-ownership?
Client: Commission! I want to give you a split of the profit, I can’t afford to pay you upfront.
Me: Well, commissions would mean having to pay me up front, and I wouldn’t sign on for “profit splitting.” If you’re asking me to do all the art and everything, I would insist on co-ownership.
Client: Oh, then co-owner, yeah.
Me: What portion of profits would I receive?
Client: 25% after business costs.
Me: So you’d get 75%?
Client: No you would have 50% of the profits. 25% goes to you, 25% goes to marketing. 25% to reinvestment and other business expenses and 25% to me.
A few red flags so far, but I figured I’d ask some more questions, give her the benefit of the doubt:
Me: Okay! So what would you be doing to earn that 50% of the profits?
Client: I don’t understand, you’d be earning 50% off each of your card designs that sell.
Me: Right, but you’re asking me to do all the art assets for the cards, so I would be contributing ALL of what you’re actually selling. What would you do in your role that would equal the amount of work I would do?
Client: You wouldn’t have to do anything! Once you’ve done the picture you just sit back and relax!
Me: Do you have a business plan? Would you be hustling more vendors for these cards? Or is the plan to sell my art and get 50% of that?
Client: I don’t understand.
I gave up shortly thereafter. This client told my friend that I was trying to scam her and my friend got mad at me. We haven’t spoken since.
It turns out the client hadn’t even seen my work at that point either. At some point she must have actually looked at my portfolio because I got another message:
Client: Wow, I really like your art! Are you sure you don’t want to work for me?
I didn’t respond.