Friday, January 23, 2009

I Think I Can

Last week, my new client sent me an e-mail about a project he wanted me to start. After being nominated for one of those "favorite local _____" awards, he was convinced by the sponsoring magazine to purchase ad space in the publication. He had a quarter page ad to submit to them within a week's time. He sent some of the details he wanted included in the ad.

At first I thought he just wanted me to write copy for the ad. I had to have a conversation with about how small a quarter page ad was and how much copy would realistically fit in it. We also talked about how much copy people will reasonably read in an advertisement.

At some point I realized he actually wanted me to design the ad. My first response was "I am not a graphic designer." I told him I could write some copy and slap it in a text box with his logo, but it wouldn't look outstanding. After I found out the ad would be 4-color, I immediately knew it needed more graphics.

I know several graphic designers, but I knew it wasn't something I could drop in someone's lap with less than a week's time to work on it. My only option was to try to do it myself. Once I felt I had responsibly informed him that I would do my best with it, but it would not look professionally designed, I started the ad.

Though my first instinct was to refuse the project, I ended up with a decent product. As it turns out, even though I didn't have experience in this area, I had worked with enough designers on projects to know what looked good and what to put where. The biggest challenge was working with software with which I didn't have much experience.

He loved the ad and we got it to the magazine publisher prior to the deadline. Now there are a couple caveats to this story. I was lucky that my husband's computer actually had the design software I needed to complete the project and that he knew how to use it so he was able to give me some basic instruction. The lesson I learned here is that I actually know more than I think I do and I can accomplish what may have seemed impossible before.

That doesn't mean I aspire to becoming a graphic designer, but as my projects start to lean more toward the marketing end of the spectrum, it's a good idea to develop skills that complement the writing skills I have and make me more marketable.


Athlyn @ Write and Earn a Living said...

Good insights--and I couldn't agree more. Writers have to diversify their skills as the world increasingly turns online.

It is such a different ballgame from what it was 10 years ago.

And you are right: often, by taking on a project we haven't anticipated ever doing, we master new and usable skills.

heidi @ wonder woman wannabe said...

Good for you! You didn't sway from a new challenge! Glad it worked out as a success. ;) Can we see it?

Jaimie said...

I love that you went through with it instead of telling him that it was outside of your expertise. Very brave.