$300 Logo Redesign as "Trial" Project for Possible Full-time Position


I’ve been freelancing for around seven years now, but I’m not sure how to handle this situation. I have a startup interested in me for an interface design position, but they want to do a trial project to gauge fit and all that. However, the “trial” project is actually a logo redesign. They’re offering me $300 up front. When the CEO mentioned it on the phone, he said he knew that was low, but that it was meant to see how we work together, and asked if I’d be okay with that.

It’s a really interesting company, and the full-time position sounds like exactly what I’ve been looking for, but for $300, I couldn’t provide the same level of research, multiple rounds of revisions, etc. I’m also a little uncomfortable with the idea of a $300 trial project resulting in a mark that represents the entire company.

I’d be really grateful for any suggestions/advice on how to handle this.

3/18/2016 1:48:00 PM

Pretty much all Gen-Y or young "startup" use that "let's see if we're a good fit" catch phrase. And promise "more work coming" blablabla. Seriously.

In other words, it means "we have no money and we're still struggling paying off those 200 nice cups and T-Shirts we ordered with our Word logo on them, and fancy photoshoots of our team of 3, etc.".

You could always accept the project and give them an inferior logo. You can always work with that budget and not get "personally" involved in this logo as your best piece of art. Surprisingly, they might be very very happy with it. But from experience, I can assure you that when projects start this way, they usually stay this way. It doesn't mean it's bad, it might lead you to some good places. As you said, it's their logo and that's how much they care about it. Imagine the web banners and flyers... If you're the kind of designer who cares about your "art" and isn't used to doing "commercial" designs, this company might not be a good fit for you or get prepared to often be forced do less than what you truly want.

Forget about the promises of future work; you'll see if they're serious when it gets there or offer them a bigger package deal if you want to "hook" them. Honestly, if you don't need the money, I really think you should test them before getting too involved anyway.

You can consider it a test for yourself too but promises are often just promises; so you do that work if you really gain something else out of it (eg. fun, practice, nice logo for portfolio, network, etc.)

Also, a lot of startup talk about full time position: read this differently.

  • Often they mean "become OUR exclusive designer on call 24/7", it doesn't always mean 40hr/week of work at $20-30+/hr from 8 to 5; it means work on weekend or overnight on cheap digital projects because they're not organized and have low budgets. Often they're just dreaming of that ideal solution and won't even have a budget for this position until their business is 3-5 years old.
  • Often it can also mean "once we get a virtual assistant or intern at $8/hr, we'll ask you templates so this person can do half your work"!

So ask questions and try them within some conditions. Don't act like a guy who needs a job, act like someone doing them a favor. Serious business people don't promise things, they go straight for what they need.

Source: Worked with TONS of startups and young entrepreneurs. There's obviously strong patterns hard to ignore.


  • Only do this if you get something else out of it.
  • Don't make your decision based on the promises of full time work
4/13/2017 12:46:00 PM