Often as freelancers (budding or otherwise), our goal is to get ‘out there.’
We want as many people as possible to view our LinkedIn portfolio, visit our blog, appreciate our Behance project, and contact us for work.
We have no qualms about exposing our names and contact information, and we often forget that others have different privacy preferences.
You mean there are people, or even entire companies, in this day and age who don’t want their information spread across the internet?
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Shocking, I know.
They are more than just our grandparents, albeit they are generally in the older generations, and they may have legal or internal company restrictions of which you’re not aware.
And it was for this reason I was groggily answering the third phone call in as many minutes at 8:30am the morning after I had just posted and promoted a portfolio piece I was particularly proud of.
The Wake Up Call.
My distressed client was calling me to ask me to please take the project down.
It had the company’s contact information (address, phone number, email, etc.) and my client is very particular about online privacy. He felt very uncomfortable about his contact information being available to everyone who would view my portfolio (how generous of him to assume a large viewership!).
I won’t lie…I was a little dumbfounded.
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I’m in the ‘Check out my portfolio!’ category.
I also accept that if someone wants to find me via the internet, they can.
It’s something I’ve lived with most of my life and thus grown accustomed to.But I respect my client’s difference of opinion and wishes. Therefore we worked out a solution: I could post the project so long as I changed the contact information to dummy text or blur it out.
That morning I realized not all people are have the same comfort level when it comes to online privacy.
Posting projects in my portfolio might be taking liberties with my clients’ privacy, and that’s not my decision (legally or ethically) to make.
What you need to do today:
After updating my portfolio to reflect my client’s wishes, I immediately drafted an email to all of my other clients in my portfolio asking for their written permission to post their work.
I explained the reasoning for my request and saved all of their responses in their client folders. (All of them agreed, although some requested their contact information masked out.)
I also wrote a new clause in my design contract stating that I may showcase their project(s) in my portfolio, and to specify in writing what, if any, limitations or requests they may have.
You need to do the same sort of thing right away!
This way, I’m protected.
I have proof that my client agreed to the public showing of their projects in my portfolio. Therefore I can’t be held legally accountable for illegally posting the project, and I won’t be subjecting myself to the possibility of an ugly matter.
But this never happens, right?
That’s what I thought, too. Who doesn’t want their company to gain more exposure? But I was lucky:
- My client isn’t a major corporation who now wants my head for posting their latest project before the release date (unbeknownst to me).
- My client isn’t in the middle of an infringement lawsuit and very sensitive about company exposure.
- My client’s CEO wasn’t angrily calling to inform me that their internal document was seen in my portfolio and now they’re getting calls from customers.
My client just politely asked me to respect his privacy wishes.
99.9% of us will never encounter a problem.
But with so much recent interest and concern over the legalese behind Pinterest (read “Pinterest and legal issues: Read this before you pin anything” and “Why I tearfully deleted my Pinterest inspiration boards”), take into consideration your clients’ wishes prior to posting their project.
You might save yourself an early morning phone call, an argument, a client, or in the worst case, a lawsuit.
What about you?
Have you ever had a client ask you to remove his/her project (or contact information) from your portfolio?
Have you ever had a client tell you that the work you’ve performed is for internal eyes only and therefore not to be published in a portfolio? What did you do about it? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it!
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