I’m back after a long hiatus! Had stopped posting in the #WTFNaina series because otherwise, this is all I would have been posting. Emails from people who don’t know their elbow from their ass, are only increasing in volume. I told myself that I would only write about something that was particularly egregious. And if there was something to learn. And if it represented more, similar emails. And now we have one!
Hi, We went through ur profile and found very attractive image of u during promotion we want to use ur picture for our brand promotion looking of ur permission.
MY RESPONSE EMAIL
Please share licensing and image details.
THEIR SECOND EMAIL
<Brand Name> is Marketplace like <Much Bigger Brand Name>.
<Brand Name> is just startup and even not yet launch. We are doing pre launch promo.
As you know current era is online,so we are looking for bright future.
<Brand Name> looking of your support,but as an startup we are unable to pay commercial till launch.
<Brand Name> respect Girl Power so looking of your support and permission to use your EXISTING Clear Pixel Image to our Website & Company platform as brand model.
Please find the details.
<Instagram and Website Details>
Please share below details.
Language : lately, I’m trying my best to judge people less on their ability to use English properly. Just because your grasp of the English language is great, is no guarantee that you are going to be a professional. Although, in my experience, this has mostly been the case. Broken English emails have never panned out into actual work or relationships. Even so, who am I to judge? They’re at least making an effort. So, that’s a red flag that I’m trying not to focus on, unless there are other red flags as well.
What they want : They want to use a photograph of me ( or possibly shot by me ) to promote their brand.
So far, so good. To determine further details like whether I should charge money or not, whether I’m comfortable providing my image to promote this brand or not, etc. I need more information.
So I ask them which particular image they want to use – so that I know whether it’s a photograph with me in it or if it’s a photograph I’ve shot and if there’s something / someone else in it that might require permissions / licensing.
I also ask them “licensing”, which will help me understand where the image will be used. Social media platforms? Which ones? Print? Where? National publication or International? For how long? Etc. I’m not expecting them to understand but then I want to meet them at my level, not theirs.
I did think that I should simply delete their initial email and not respond. Time is irreplaceable no matter how much money you throw at it. So saving time is my priority. But I also did not want them to simply go ahead and use my image because they didn’t receive a response. Ideally if you don’t receive a response, you should not assume that permission was granted. But from their initial email, I didn’t think they had that kind of comprehension.
Someday, I will tell you about the, “Dear Naina, Relax.” email someone sent. Now THAT was an email that had all kinds of red flags.
There’s a bunch of emails that drop into my inbox each day and many of them head straight to the Trash Folder. Some of them directly, even without hitting my inbox. Thank you GMail filters.
Getting back to the email from this edition.
ANALYSIS OF THEIR FINAL RESPONSE
You’ll notice they haven’t actually answered my query or addressed it.
They’re mentioning they’re a start-up – which is irrelevant to me. How does my business’ bottomline care if you’re a startup or a multi-billion dollar establishment? I provide a bunch of services and products for a price. You are able and willing to buy, you buy. Your status in any sphere of life is not my business. This is not to say that there’s no value in cultivating relationships but that comes at a later stage. There’s investment and commitment in relationships. There’s mutual support and growth. Emailing someone, enquiring about using their images is hardly a relationship-building exercise, no matter how great your grasp of the English language.
They’ve compared themselves to this large brand and then in the next sentence they’ve explained why exactly they are not like that large brand they compared themselves to.
They want to use my image as “company & brand model”, for free.
Multiple times, throughout their email, the focus seems to be on “no commercials”. I get it. Sometimes, there’s no budget but there’s a desire to do better. Which is fine. Sometimes it works like that. But at least address my queries. At the end of the day, we are both in business of some form or another. We are all, selling something. It would be a good practice to treat each interaction as a business interaction, language notwithstanding.
This was the stage at which I realized that it would be pointless to continue this conversation. My “time quota” for this email exchange had expired.
My final response was a simple, “No.”
If that’s not clear, then I don’t know what is.
“At least they asked!” is NOT a positive. It’s a basic requirement. Using images because you found them on “Google” or because you didn’t know who the photographer is NOT an excuse. You might want to check copyright laws in India. It’s illegal. Of course, you’re more likely going to be named and shamed online that dragged to court because who’s got time to do that in India anyway.
THE STARTUP PROBLEM
I’ve already mentioned that it is not my problem.
What do I recommend if you’re a startup and have no money? Make money. Then spend it on great talent.
I don’t get it. I started at some point too. I had no money. I didn’t write to the best web designer in the country to design a website for me for free – I learned the fucking language and made my own website. It might have been a shitty website but I HAD one. And the more I tweaked it, the better I got at it. I’ve always tweaked my own websites and blogs. Even this one. Now I can choose to make the decision to purchase a WordPress theme from ThemeForest and pay an annual fee for support directly from the developer of this theme.
Make do with what you have till you can pay for more. And then pay for it.
Just because you are a startup, don’t you dare attempt to drag me down with you.
More #WTFNaina blog posts addressing various work-related emails and exchanges I’ve had over the years.