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How do I create and protect a logo for my blog?

Greetings, all!

My name is Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack, and I blog about Linux, coding, current technology, and women’s issues in the IT workplace at The Cowgirl Coder. I’m a web developer who was the dev lead for Lips for Xbox 360, and I am currently on the Halo for Xbox 360 web team. Anne-Marie and I share a lot of interests, and were fortunate to stumble upon (web nerd pun intended) each other when I was faced with a legal issue concerning the misuse of some of my online intellectual property. Anne-Marie is not only a swell dame, she’s also a very good attorney, and she shortly straightened the situation out to my benefit. Since then, we’ve exchanged ideas and jokes, as well as advice from our mutual spheres of expertise. She’s also writing a post for my blog today!

I recently decided to increase my content and effort in my blog. I know that one of the steps for blog monetization is to create a memorable and saleable logo and graphic image. All I had was a clipart pink cowboy hat and a general notion of how to Get Things Done on the web. So, here’s how I proceeded.

(1) I started with a bounty on Craigslist. I figured that for the first time, I’d actually WANT to get all those offers from all over the world to help me at low prices, and in my Craigslist ad, I linked to my blog post about searching for a logo.

(2) I was inundated. I need to make up a new word. I was ENFLOODED by emails offering to do my logo. I also received quite a few emails from people offering to do it for more, and several trolls who were angry that I was devaluing their ‘graphic design’ services which came at a starting price tag of $1500. You can see some of the responses I got, including a very angry exchange with a graphic designer, at the comments on the blog post.

(3) How did I narrow down the field? Well, the issue with having all those emails was twofold: the sheer quantity (maybe 400 emails, all with portfolio links or images attached) meant that I would have spent forever trying to go through and compare all the artwork I saw, and the quality and styles were all so radically different that I had no real way to rank them. So, I posted the response you saw in the comments and also emailed it to all the folks who had sent me an online portfolio via email. In short, I told them that I wanted to see a brief concept sketch by the next Monday, and I would choose from those who did. THIS is when the vitriol started and where the interesting part happens for the legal types. I was re-enflooded by responses of three varieties: (1) “You cretin, I don’t do work for free!”, (2) “You will steal my work and not pay me for it.”, and (3) “Ok.”

(4) I received four good concept mockups out of the 400 original emails. They were wildly divergent, but I saw one that with some tweaking and polishing would make a GREAT logo for the site. I thanked the other three, and told Gabriel Posey that I liked his concepts best. I wanted to know what he’d based the image on, however, since I could see that if he used a proprietary image to base the logo on, I might have to take down my logo or lose my (eventual) trademark, regardless of whether or not it was my fault. You can see the image my logo is based on at Wikimedia. A few emails later, we had his watermarked PDF image fixed up with good lettering. I told Gabriel that I’d PayPal him $50 and email him the release letter for the intellectual property regarding the logo. After I received the signed letter back in the mail, I PayPalled him the other $50 and he shared several image versions with my Dropbox folder. Here’s the letter:

I think that graphic artists are uniquely undervaluing their talent and overvaluing their skillset. I think that artists who think they can charge $1500 for their logo design for a hobbyist blogger do not understand that their customers do not care as much about the picky tiny details of a logo as these artists think they should. I think that new artists starting out are more likely to have a fresh take and be willing to sign away all IP rights to their creations. I think that if you offer a decent price for commissioning work online (that can be done remotely) that you will receive such a large response that you’ll be reasonably happy with what you end up with regardless of your sifting/narrowing techniques. Most of all, I think that people worrying that I would steal their ideas and work do not understand that their problem is not that I might jack their images, their problem is that at least one percent of the 400 artists in the running will have the talent and savvy to get my business by offering me a free sample so I know what I’ll be buying.

I think that I did the best I could do with a hundred bucks, and that now I own the t-shirt of my blog, which means I WIN AT NERDING.

What do you think?

Posted in Friday: Fun Content.