By and large, my experience with designers has been bad. It started when I was 15 and had to borrow money off Mum to employ a designer to make an icon for my crappy little word processor for Mac OS 9. The designer went bust, or something, and it took us months to get our money back.
When I was old enough to pay people myself, I found a great designer to do the icons for Music Rescue 3. Later, when it was time for Music Rescue 4, I found a different awesome designer who stayed with me through my failed GeoCachr project and Clarus. Unfortunately, he moved on to different pastures.
In the meantime, I finally found a designer to work with me on non-icon stuff, like my website and UI design for my apps. He work is great, and we get on very well. Great! I'm finally starting to get over the debacle I experienced when I was 15.
Then, came Music Rescue 5. Since my previous icon designer moved on, I had to find another. I managed to get myself on the books of a great designer, only to never hear from him again. Ok, at least I hadn't paid a deposit. Eventually I found someone with great reputation and work, happily paid my money, and waited. And waited…
Eight months later, I have no icons and no money. After a couple of second chances, I've had enough. I'm not going to see any money for at least another month, and won't get it all back until next year. It's a very good job that 1) I'm poor and 2) Music Rescue 5 has been delayed, otherwise I'd unleash a legal wrath for breach of contract and damages - my original planned date for Music Rescue 5 was just before Christmas, my strongest sales period - this would've cost me those sales. It is not OK to take towards €1,000 of someone's money then go into radio silence for months on end.
So, while that gets resolved, I've come up with a little app for Mac OS X. I need one app icon, five toolbar icons, two menu bar icons and a couple of little overlays. My budget is small but reasonable and I'd like a relatively fast turnaround. I want to give that money to you, the designer, in return for some work done.
I've emailed a few people, with roughly 50% ending up in my "to employ when I have my Music Rescue budget available again" file. I've yet to find anyone hireable for this project, mainly due to my want for a fast turnaround. I'm fairly horrified about the other 50% though — it's like they don't want my money.
Designers! If you'd like to work for small developers who're excited about getting design done for the app they've made and are super-excited about, here are a few tips:
How To Make Me Email You
On your website, have some of your work on show and a pretty but clean website. Have a tiny bit of information about you - where you are, your name. Then, say "Want stuff that's as awesome as this but yours? Get in touch." I'll be filing out that form as fast as I can. No work, and/or lots of waffle about marketing and brand synergising or whatever, and I'll assume you only work for corporates and are way out of my price range.
How Not To Get My Money, Ever
1) In your reply to my long, descriptive email about the project, that states in the first sentence that it's a Mac OS X and Windows application, paste in your standard rates for iOS icons.
2) Not reply, even to say "Sorry but I'm super busy".
3) Ignore that I'd like a relatively quick turnaround, lead me on, then say you can't start work until January.
4) Start emailing me but stop mid-conversation. If you suddenly go quiet for a few days, I won't wait.
How To End Up In My "Give Money To Later" List
1) Reply with a quote that's reasonable but out-of-budget for this little app. Show that you've actually read my email all the way through. Don't worry - I'll understand that your prices are worth it and you'll also gain a lot of respect from me. You'll also be on the top of the list of who to employ for the much larger project coming down the road.
2) Reply with a polite email saying that you'd like to work with me, but you can't make the quick turnaround time. Again, respect++.