This was a dismal day – it was in the 50’s and really raining. I was handholding my Olympus E-510 so I feel lucky to have gotten anything at all… I was really taken with all the beautiful paving patterns at the Classical Chinese Garden, as you can see. Beautiful stonework.

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More photos from our Oregon trip. We never saw Mt. Hood but Mt. St. Helens was visible from Portland on the last day; my husband drove out to Multnomah Falls and up to Mt. St. Helens and got a few nice shots while I was at the conference. The smaller waterfall was hidden at a pullout on Hwy. 6 between Portland and Tillamook near the top of the Coast Range.

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We took these while in Oregon last week for a web design conference. It was a chilly, drizzly day (but I came to understand that this is normal for late May over the course of the week). The garden is totally gorgeous, a highly recommended experience in any weather.

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I have a client – I’ll call him Jack. I did a website design and development project for him last year; the SEO work I did has vaulted him to the top of Google for his main keyword phrases. He’s got great positioning and his business has increased due to this and the customer-focused features of his website.

A few weeks ago Jack contacted me and wanted me to change a particular graphic on his site. Not a problem, I said. It should take between 15-30 minutes total, and I would send an invoice when I finished.

He asked, in his emailed reply, if I would do it for free.

My first inclination was to say ‘yes.’ It’s not much time, it’s an easy revision. But I thought about it. And then I replied and said ‘sorry, but no.’

I explained that the time it took to do this work would be time spent away from other, paying customers’ projects, and that payment for work that exceeds 15 minutes is expected of all clients. I can’t give away my time.

He replied and told me to go ahead with the work.

Why did I make this decision? A few reasons.

  • The aforementioned disdain for giving away my time; it’s my most valuable asset, I don’t have enough of it as there is. I need to be compensated for its use.
  • I wouldn’t expect him to offer me or anyone else a half hour of his work time. He makes much more per hour than I do, anyway. He’s definitely not hurting for business.
  • I gave him a number of free hours during the development of his website, and he knew that. I often donate some time during a big project, especially if I’m learning how to do something new. I give away more time than I should during those larger projects but I’m getting better about that.
  • Jack had already requested that I redo this particular graphic twice, and I didn’t charge him for the first two because they were done pretty soon after launching his site.

So, today I received a check – all of $18.75 for 15 minutes of work. I was glad to get it, but it’s not the money that’s at issue. It’s that my time is just as valuable as my clients’ and I expect to be fairly compensated when I spend it for them.

Back from WebVisions in Portland and I have a lot to write about – but I need to catch up on work today. I will say that while we liked Portland pretty well (it was our first visit), I am too addicted to Colorado sunshine to ever consider living in the Northwest… We had about 6-7 hours of sun during the week we were there. Never saw Mt. Hood and we were hoping too. More later.

WebVisions is coming up this week in Portland, Oregon. This will be my first time in Portland (or Oregon, for that matter) and the first web conference I’ve attended since starting my own business in 2005.

I’m looking through the session schedule, trying to determine which ones I’ll go to. I think I need a clone – it would certainly help. But for now I’ve narrowed it down to:

Day 1

  • The Importance of Emotional Connections in Web Design
  • Green Tech panel or Design for Video Game Marketing (!)
  • Social Media Strategies for Creatives or Responsible Web Design or Bleeding Edge RSS or Design is in the Details (here’s where I need three clones)
  • Drupal or User Experience Best Practices or Complementing IA with Instructional Design for Memorable Web Experiences

Day 2

  • Going Fast on the Slow Mobile Web or Visual & Creative Thinking
  • Open Source panel or CSS Transformation
  • Getting Started with Rails
  • What You Need to Know about IE8 and Standards

I guess I should check out the speakers for each of the ones I’m not sure about and make a decision based on who they are and what they do. But that’s not to say my schedule won’t change at the last minute if I hear something interesting…