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The Dangers of Freelancing and How to Protect Yourself from Thieves, Plagiarists and Time Wasters!

Are you a freelance designer that is worried about or has been affected by thieves and plagiarists that waste your time and lose you money? If so then read on...

I hear a lot in the forums about designers that are angry because they have just been scammed. No one expects to be a victim of theft until it actually happens to them. I personally rarely have this problem as I am careful about whom I design for and always protect my work. This does not mean to say that it will not happen to me and unfortunately does happen to freelancers all the time.

Some people feel they can use freelancers and the contest forums as a free service. They will pose as a client and give a project specification with a set price. Freelance designers will submit their work and may even get responses from this so called client. They will then steal the designs, usually using the old copy and paste method. Some more bold thieves will even request the files to be sent to them before they give payment. NEVER send your completed designs to a client before payment has been confirmed as it will leave you open to scams.

Just like thieves, time wasters do not pay for your services, but they will not steal them either. They will simply give up and ignore the work submitted. More often that not what happens is a client requests a logo or template and does not like the results they are getting from the freelancers submitting their entries. They then decide to go elsewhere without selecting a winner from their posting. The client has not looked at the rules of the forums carefully and although they do not mean to cause the freelancers any problems, by ignoring entries they are significantly wasting the designer’s time. This has resulted in a lot of people being banned from forums and labelled as time wasters.

The final issue of plagiarism tends to be more of a problem from new freelancers who are unaware of the laws regarding protected works. In order to copy a design in part or in full you need to have some expertise of how to do so. Remember, it is one thing to draw inspiration from other freelancer’s designs but another to steal and copy them. Sometimes you find a new designer who has only had a few posts and may be unsure of how the freelance business works. They may find an image from Google or even from another freelancer’s entry and feel they can apply it to their own designs. So they use the copy and paste function, slap it into Photoshop, add some text and call it their own. Fortunately for them, most of the time a more experienced freelancer will notice this and show them the errors of their ways and they never do it again. However, some people are aware that it is wrong and do it any way. These are the real bad guys who freelancers need to protect themselves from.

Surprisingly, a lot of freelancers are not aware of the basic method I am about to show you for how to quickly, easily and effectively protect your designs. This proven method can be applied to anything from a small logo to a large template. The method is called ‘watermarking’. It is basically faded text that is placed over a design to protect it. This text blocks the image resting under it and stops potential theft by making it almost impossible to clearly copy the design without the watermarked text showing up.

To watermark your image in Adobe Photoshop follow the simple steps below.

1. Create a new canvas with a transparent background. Select the text tool and create a text layer that you wish to show as a watermark. For example, ‘Sample’ or ‘This is a Protected Image’.

2. Go to ‘Edit’ and select ‘Free Rotate’. Rotate the text until it is at a slight angle.

3. Now select the ‘Rectangular Marque Tool’ and drag it around the text. Go to ‘Image’ and select ‘Crop’. This will reduce the pallet size and get rid of wasted space.

4. Go to ‘Edit’ and select ‘Define Pattern’. Give it a name and click okay.

5. Open up the design you wish to protect and create a new layer over the top of it. Now go to click on ‘Edit’ and go to ‘Fill’. Select the pattern you have just created making sure the 'Opacity' is set to 10% and click okay. Your design is now watermarked and protected!

For a detailed step-by-step tutorial for how to apply the watermarking system in Adobe Photoshop, check out my free watermarking tutorial. See resource box for details.

An alternative method is to use a software application that can watermark for you. The advantage of this being that it can digitally watermark your designs as well as visually which provides further hidden protection. Some of the best watermarking software available is Watermark Factory, Photowatermark Professional and 1-More Watermarker.

Remember, ALWAYS watermark your designs and be suspicious of anyone who requests un-watermarked entries.


About the Author: This article was written by Kevin M. Sugrue the creator of http://www.freephotoshopzone.com!
http://www.freephotoshopzone.com offers free photoshop tutorials and free photoshop articles!




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