An Exciting Opportunity

The following is based on a real conversation: I’ll be back tomorrow with more cheery news!

Dear Tracey,

we are a major corporate brand, a household name. I’m sure you’ve heard of us, our multi million pound annual turnover means we’re very big and very powerful.

We’d love to give you the opportunity to work with us on a new campaign. We’re not going to pay you any money, but we are sure the kudos of being involved with us will be more than enough recompense. We would like you to provide an exclusive design, knit a sample and visit us on set to assist with styling at your own expense.

We’re sure you’ll do a “little squee” every time you see our advert on tv, and maybe even a “happy dance” when you open a glossy Sunday supplement and see photos of your work under a huge banner promoting our brand.

Don’t worry, if you say no, we have a dozen other naïve, wannabe designers we found via google who would be happy to work for no fee. We thrive on their vanity.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Major corporate brand xxx

Dear Corporate Brand,

Thank you for your email. I’d love to work with you. I have attached my rate card with details of my fee for designing bespoke items and providing written patterns. I’m sure you’ll find them in line with most professional fees. Yes, there would be a huge thrill in working with you, but squees and happy dances don’t put food on the table. Nor do they pay the tax and national insurance bill. Yes, visiting a film set / photo shoot would be very exciting and definitely something to tell my grandchildren. But, unless you are prepared to pay the rate for the job, respect my professionalism and credit me for the work I do I must decline.

Kind regards



I wish I could say the above conversation was fictional, but sadly I’ve had three similar conversations in the past month. I have brilliant working relationships with editors, publishers, yarn companies and wool shops. All of them respect my work and pay me for the designs and copy I produce. It makes me sad that so many designers and writers feel the only way to further their career, to get “exposure” and publicity is to work for free. So long as even one blogger / designer agrees to a no fee commission, then the rest of us will suffer. I know it’s a huge thrill to be associated with a major ad campaign, seeing your work in print or on the bookshelves is a big deal. But, if you work is of value, then you deserve to be paid and all of us need to be bolder and make it clear we don’t work for nothing.

*Disclaimer: I want to make it clear that this post does not refer to any of my current clients or editors – you are all BRILLIANT! I love you all for the work you commission, the cheques you send and the support you give to my blog, Etsy shop and workshops. I just wish there were more out there like you!*

Leave a comment


  1. I get that all the time, I don’t even reply anymore…


  2. Tracey

     /  November 12, 2013

    I usually ignore them too, but this week I just feel a bit ranty! And, I feel sorry for all the new, younger designers and writers who think they have to work for nothing if they want to get on in this business :(


  3. If only we could eat kudos…..
    Much respect for sticking by your principles, Tracey. I hope it gives more designers, designer-makers and writers the confidence to say no to working for free. I’ll bet the person who contacted you wasn’t doing it for the “squees”! And thumbs up to the publications who pay fair rates to their freelancers!


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  • I’m Tracey Todhunter. I’m a freelance writer. specialising in green / ethical living – with a “sideline” in craft!

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  • Gonna get dirt under my fingernails, sctratched by rose thorns & probably break a nail or two - but I don't care! First photo shoot for new book is done & now I have six weeks before my hands need to look pretty again! The glamorous life of a crochet designer eh?!?
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