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design, graphic arts, small business

The Value of Pro Bono

Sometimes you have to say “no.” When you’re a creative and a problem-solver, it’s natural to want to help with your skills. But then, some people start taking advantage and the next thing you know, your paying work is suffering. Or you get cranky and feeling put-upon.

However, when you do stuff gratis, YOUR WAY, your own vision, with no one to say NO, the outcome can be its own reward.

I belong to a band. My husband joined first and invited me. The band’s organizer, Doog, is an amazing guitar player with no computer skills. He’s also a really good guy. He set up a gig as a fund-raiser for Blue Star Mothers of America, an organization that supports troops stationed abroad. He chose country music as the genre because it’s popular up here in the North Pole of NJ.

We all gelled nicely and sounded pretty good quickly. We needed a name. I suggested “In Country,” because it’s a military term used by folks who are overseas (“I’m in country in Afghanistan”). Then I put together a logo.

Next, our peerless leader innocently asked if I knew anything about “free web sites.” I reflexively snarled “There is no such thing as a free web site.” I build them and they are WORK.

Later, I gave it some thought: what would we really need? Four pages: Home, About, Contact, Gigs. I could do that on WordPress, couldn’t I? Hmm. “incountryband.wordpress.com” was soon mine.

Next: photos. Did I have a digital camera? Well, duh. Sure. And Sunday was finally supposed to offer some sunshine. And there was an event scheduled up at Long Pond, a historic district nearby. Civil War re-enactors were going to be performing skirmishes and playing music. Cool!

So, on Sunday, we arrived at Long Pond, paid our admission and began schmoozing with the soldiers of the 6th New Hampshire Regiment. They were delighted to help us. I set up my tripod, lined up the shot and set the timer. We proceeded this way through the shoot and got some great shots.

In Country With the 6th New Hampshire

The band with the 6th New Hampshire Regiment, Sunday, Oct, 2, 2011

Now I’d need some content. Back at Doog’s, I got everyone to give me some biographical info focusing on their musical experiences and got the details for the gig.

Once home, I got to work. There were several good images, and I had plans for the group shot with the soldiers. To have us stand out as the band, I thought I’d make the shot sepia-tinted and I’d silo us out so we’d be in color. Then I added the logo.

In Country Band

A new country rock band from Ringwood, NJ, artfully presented.

The results of my labors can now be viewed on In Country’s blog site. This serves multiple purposes: it promotes the band and a fund-raising event for a great cause. It also demonstrates my skill as creative director, photographer, retoucher, designer, writer and modern marketing maven. Take a look. Derive some inspiration. Maybe I can do something for you. Probably not pro bono, but well-designed, functional and reasonable for sure.

About traceysl

Author of the groundbreaking book "Dementia Sucks", Post Hill Press, May, 2018. Having cared for my father, who had vascular dementia and died in 2004, and my mother, who died on April 14, 2015 after a long fight with Alzheimer's disease, I have refocused professionally to helping others through my experience. My company, Grand Family Planning, provides Coaching and Support Services. I am a professional speaker, offering programs for businesses seeking solutions to recruit and retain employees who care for loved ones. In this way, I share my knowledge and give meaning to the tragic turn of my parents' journey through the misery of dementia.


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