do me a favor,  illos,  raving lunatic rant,  Shop Talk

The Battered Banner-Maker Calls a Meeting

peeved banner-maker

Wow! Two posts for the price of one! Before you go and mentally click your heels together, I have to tell you that this is a blog business post. I feel like a big mean ogre for writing it too. I wish I weren’t writing it. So instead of having a little party over me posting more, you might as well sit down sulkily at your boardroom chair and get ready for some dull droning about pie charts or something. Don’t you wish you brought your sketchpad now?

Oh, wait. That was me. Sorry, having a flashback to my days in cubeland when I had to sit in boring meetings and I filled up my entire “meeting notes” page with sketches. Those were the best sketches. Thinking about them almost makes me wish I was bored more often. Just kidding!!!!!

Ahem. Cough, cough. Sips water.

Hi everybody. I’m so glad you could make it. Is everyone comfortable? Can I offer you a sweet roll? Yes, minding our calories. I understand. So anyway, I brought you all here today to discuss the Freebie Banner Contest I’ve had going on since forever. It has come to my attention that several of the winners have taken their banners down for various reasons.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not upset about this. Blogging is a free world (so far) and each blogger has the right to do what she will with her banner. I know that I personally hate looking at the same thing for more than a month so I completely understand the need to take things down and dust them off every once in a while.

HOWEVER! If this is YOU, you should NOT ENTER MY CONTEST!

Oh, wait. I wasn’t mad. I’m sorry. I was yelling at Baby Bug because she was eating the pathos plant in the corner and I forgot to lower my voice. Really, I’m not mad! I understand. I completely understand. And besides some of the people who have taken their banners down are my friends and I like them and I really really don’t want to piss anyone off with my hurt-feelings/diva-designer attitude.

I know I’m not all that. I know sometimes my banners are not my best work. Some months flow, some months don’t. I totally understand if you hate your banner that I made you. I want you to tell me if you’re “just not into it”. I do. And if you had it up for more than a year, I TOTALLY AGREE that you need a change.

But on the other hand, I get a LOT of banner freebie requests. So many that I think someone put me up on one of those sites where there are lists of FREE STUFF you can click on and get things like granola bars and chiropractor pens sent to your house. So I’m feeling kinda used, if you know what I mean. My banners are not granola bars and they are not crooked-back chiropractor pens. They may look like it but they are not. They are little tiny packages of love.

They are also FOUR HOURS of my life! My life is full and busting at the seams, yet I am driven to stay up all hours of the night to squeeze just one more drop out of it. I love designing. I love making banners. I love being a graphic artist/illustrator. The problem is sometimes it is TOO MUCH. And I have to make choices. I have to choose to say no. Even when it hurts.

So, I’m here to say that I’m throwing out all of the banner winner entries that have been accumulating since March 2007 (no, I have not thrown a single one out) and I’m starting over with new rules. I’m sorry. I really am. Your entries are brilliant and I laugh out loud when I read them. I really do! I love them all! They are like little hugs from you. I try to write back to every single one. And if you haven’t gotten an email back from me it’s because yours is still in my inbox, flagged and waiting to be written back to.

However, I have to start over. I have to throw out all those little hugs and ask for only sincere hugs from now on. Only big bear hugs from people who really read my site and really really want an SAJ banner. If you just want something free because it’s sitting there with a blinking light, then don’t enter. Go to the grocery store and get some of those automatic feed coupons or something.

I’m not saying that the people who took my banners down make me feel like that. I know all of you and I understand each of your reasons for taking them down. It’s okay. Really it is. No need to apologize or even think twice about it. I promise. Pinky swear!

No, I’m thinking more of the people who I’ve chosen to win something and then never even respond to my emails. I just feel cheap and used and I need to start over with some better rules.

Here are the new rules:

  1. You must read this post before entering
  2. You must be interested in a banner that will stay up longer than six months. If you just need a seasonal change, I’m not your girl.
  3. You must solemnly swear not to waste my time*. Promise me you’re worth losing sleep over!
  4. Email me five things about yourself just like you have been because you’ve been doing a GREAT job at that. I love them. All of them. If you crack me up, I love them even more.
  5. Include your URL so I can stalk you and decide if you really need a banner or not (because some of you have fabulous banners already and you do not need me!)

Sigh. Let’s take a moment of silence to consider what a crazy PMS-ing beeyotch SAJ has suddenly become. If this post is gone when you come back later, it’s because I felt terribly guilty and took it down.


I’m so sorry! I deserve no comments and nobody entering my contest ever again. I totally understand if you hate me. But it just has to be this way. I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s me. You can make faces at me if you want. You can even talk about me behind my back. I expect it. I just want to be happy when I make stuff for free. You understand? Right?

Thank you for your time. This meeting is over. Please remember to pick up your spit balls and crumpled-up meeting notes and deposit them in the trash can beside the door on your way out.


  • kristin

    don’t feel guilty!!!! as a fellow graphic designer, i totally get where you’re coming from and i applaud your ability to set boundaries! i’m still trying to learn that one myself… graphic design on the whole is constantly under-valued or brushed off as ‘talent’ and therefore deemed ‘easy.’ it takes hard work to produce the stuff you produce!

    don’t take this post down! your work is wonderful and deserves to be appreciated! i am amazed that you offer such cool contests at all… :) keep up the great work!

  • Christina (in Mo)

    I get you girl~ and I couldn’t design a hole in a paper bag to take it off my own head!

    I know a few websites that I go to have a few regular readers.. then they offer something for nothing and good lord they end up with three thousand people posting in comments. It’s disgusting.

    I would love one of your banners like it was one of my own children. That is.. If I had a website to put it up on and tend to. ha ha

    I’m glad you got that all off your chest~

  • Michelle in Cincinnati

    You are not a pms-ing bitch ogre :o) Your artwork is precious and priceless as far as I’m concerned! Kristin is right…ability to set boundaries is key! You are doing the right thing! And by the way, the sweet rolls are delish! Guess who doesn’t give a patootie about her butter but…me!


  • Shawna

    Don’t you dare take this post down! You have every right to (and need to) vent.

    So now hopefully your future banner winners ***ahem–see me in the front row waving my hand and jumping up and down?*** will be more appreciative of the time you devote to making the blogging world a prettier place.

  • TheAngelForever

    Venting is a very good thing and needed from time to time.

    It’s funny, I never sent you an e-mail before because I felt guilty for taking the time away from you and Baby Bug. However, at the same time I would LOVE a new banner for my blog. I love reading your blog and seeing your amazing graphics. My hubby is a webmaster and made a temporary fix for my blog. The rainbow thing and ick picture of my boys just isn’t cutting it. I could easily leave something up forever – I after all am the angel FOREVER and am not one for change. I would be honored to have one of your masterpieces up :) Will send you my information ASAP (baby nap permitting).

  • sizzle

    you totally have EVERY right to do this SAJ! good for your for laying down the law. it needs to happen. from one anxious to please girl to another, i’m proud of you for sticking up for yourself and you hard work. :)

  • Jessica

    I’m so sorry. I feel really, really terrible. REALLY. I’m using your banner as my redirect…On my blogger site, but it’s not on my main page. I feel like a big dried up booger on the face of my child. I know I already apologized way back when, but that post really put it all into perspective for me… And so I feel the need to let you know I’m sorry again. I do love you.

    SAJ says: Please don’t feel bad at all! We already discussed this. If it was just your’s that went down, I’d be so fine! Believe me, all of my banner winners who took their banners down are fine. I love you all. I just think I should choose people more on need instead of how much I like you. If that makes sense. So please don’t feel like a booger. You aren’t. It was my boogerish lack of rules.

  • Chris

    Never feel guilty about setting guidelines. The world, the blogosphere in particular, can always use a bit more order.

    Off to write up an email now. I’d kill (or something equally dramatic with less violence) for a SAJ banner.

  • Meghan

    Good for you for standing up for yourself!

    I know that when you replied to my request I was tickled pink that you even bothered to read through it, let alone reply with a coherent email. :-) I will definitely send you another 5 things at some point, but probably not at the moment. I’m still trying to decide if I’ll be able to go 6 months without swapping banners. . .hmm, I’m going to have to think about this. I had mentioned that I’d be interested in paying for a couple of seasonal banners, but at the time money was so tight it wasn’t an option. After the 1st of the year I’m getting a raise, and I’m going to put a bit of it away in my SAJ banner fund, because I LOVE your work, and would be HONORED to have something you designed on my site. I just think I’ll have to pay for it, because I get an itch to have my banner match the season.

    I know how you feel about being taken advantage of, a few years ago when I bought my first PowerBook it came with a free iPod. I already had an iPod that wasn’t very old, so I got the free (after rebate) iPod and gave it away on my site. I asked for people to leave a comment telling me why they deserved it. I went from having about 12 daily hits (half of which are usually my mom) to a couple hundred. In the end the best comment truly was from someone who had been a regular commenter, but I was at first flattered, and then upset about the spike in ‘readers’ for that time. I was just trying to do something good, be generous because all it would monetarily cost me was shipping, and I ended up feeling used. No fun.

    I hope all of the comments will show you how many loyal readers you have (like you didn’t already know!) and we’re just at outraged as you are over people taking advantage of our SAJ.

  • toni

    I totally understand why you wrote this post, and I support your new rules. I’ll email you sometime about my 5 things again. While I’m happy with my current banner, it would’ve been really really cool to have a SAJ version! For now, rest, rest, rest from all the banner creations. The worst thing about creating is when you’re beginning to feel forced to do it and don’t feel acknowledged enough for your wonderful creations. :/

  • Kaili

    Don’t feel bad, you make great banners and you deserve to be respected.
    Don’t take the post down, it’s great that you spoke your mind and people can understand where you are coming from and what you give up to create those great banners. I read, and I would love a banner made the oh so cool SAJ, I have no banner and I promise to keep it up for a long time. I’ll enter (again) when I have a moment.
    I support your new guidelines, keep on rockin’!

  • jessicab

    I have wanted to enter many times but haven’t because I have a few questions. What better time to ask than now.

    Are banners the graphics that are on the top of your blog? If so I desperately need a new banner.

    Can I use a SAJ designed banner on my free wordpress blog or do I need to upgrade first?


  • OMSH

    Well, I will have you know that your OMSH will reign on high in my blog until the rapture.

    Does that make things a wee bit better?

    Because YOU brought him to life and now, with a breath of SAJ, he lives.

  • Angella

    Oh, Brenda! THIS IS WHY I LOVE YOU.

    Because I am the same. I am going to stand up for myself! I am worth it!

    *But don’t get mad, mm-kay?*

    Good for you, girl!

    And I have had my banner (with the others still waiting for their moment of glory) up for what, nine months now?

    I want to redesign my site, but only if it works with my sweet, sweet SAJ banner :)

  • Chris

    Please don’t feel bad- you have every right to say how you feel. If anything, remove all of the apologies in your post! No need to apologize for how you feel, especially in this case. All of your readers will and do understand.

    BTW- your Baby Big flash cards arrived, are adorable and were well received by the soon to be parents of a little baby boy. Thank you!

  • Leslie

    Do not feel guilty! You are a professional designer and you are allowed to set the rules. I can’t wait for the banner! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Mrs. Wilson

    You’re an amazing lady. GOOD FOR YOU! Don’t feel guilty at all. You need time for you too, and I know how it is working SO hard on something and then having that thing not appreciated at all. It sucks. It sucks a lot.

    I love your blog and I love your banners. I think you’re so So SO talented! I’m going to enter your contest some time. Some time when I get some kind of idea as to what kind of a banner I want. Or if I get a super sweet idea, then I’ll just give you the monetary (sp?) gratitude that you deserve for your four hours of sleep that you missed.

    Have an awesome day. Thanks for sharing your feelings/frustrations! Feels good, hey?

  • mariss

    Good for you! I think that was a great and valid post. You live a full life and want to make sure that these extra bits are worth it. I don’t need a banner, but wanted to comment and say kudos!

  • familymclean

    This made me cry, and I don’t know why, I just love you! You are so good at saying things in a way that totally conveys what you think and are still super sweet, and even though it is business I still laughed….sigh.

  • sassylittlepunkin

    i LOVE my SAJ banner, and have had it up for YEARS! everytime i get the grumblies and think i want to redo my site i think “NOOOOO! I can’t get rid of SAJ’s cute banner!” and then i think about all the work she put into it and how it was the sweetest favor and there it stays. and i still get compliments on it. of course, i hardly blog anymore…but that’s another story.

    i’m totally behind you on this choice. it’s your time, your talents. you call the shots!

  • Aurora

    good for you! I would love a banner, if I had a site to put it on! I’d love it and tend to it and never never never ever take it down….
    You deserve respect! You got it!

    I’m taking my tea cup and paper towels to the trash on the way out….

  • knitterykate

    I totally understand where you’re coming from. Don’t feel bad that you had to say what you said. People should understand that graphics takes work…and time. Not a hot commodity for a mom of a preschooler! That said… I might apply for a banner!

  • margalit

    I totally support you in this. I know how I’d react and you’re pretty much on the money.

    But that doesn’t mean for one second that I’m not waiting with anticipation for my new banner for my new site (it’s a seeeeecret right now). I was going to write to you about it anyhow after the holidays but maybe I’ll just enter the ‘contest’ and see if I’m gonna win. Because I need to be a winner these days.

    You’re a peach! You can’t do anything wrong in my book.

  • bluejaye

    My two cents are get rid of the freebie all together.

    You have your etsy store now and you could sell custom banners,
    avatars and such there. With a discount for updates maybe.

    I know…muslin business card holders with an iron-on logo.

  • nicole

    Oh girl … I can feel your pain! I love your designs and your blog. I couldn’t imagine someone trying to take advantage of your offer … but, there is evil lurking around every corner. I am happy to re-enter … I would cherish the design you would make for my blog.

  • Gretchen

    I totally understand where you’re coming from. I’ve seen the ‘free banner’ ad you have, and truth be told, I’d absolutely love one from you. But… Big but (and not just my big butt) I just had one made by another friend. I’d hate to hurt her feelings in swapping it out right now. Maybe this summer I’ll think of five things.

    Otherwise, you’re welcome to stalk me and see if I’m ‘worthy.’ :)

    Have a great day!

  • ~moe~

    Aw, SAJ – you’re the greatest! I have often longed for a new banner but I’m so html inept that I didn’t dare enter your contest because I didn’t want you to go through all the work to design it and then I wouldn’t have the slightest clue how to put it up. Good luck with your contest and I hope you get the biggest and most sincere hugs always.

  • Clownfish

    No time for banner drama; I’m learning my alphabet with my new Baby Bug Flash Cards! – The illustrator is a friend of mine! :-)

  • Susan

    I think this is a great post! You deserve to set new rules and have your banners loved. I heart the banners you design and am completely jealous of how boring and blah my blogger website is because I have no clue how to design anything.
    We heart you SAJ…keep up the good work!

  • Erin

    No guilty feeling necessary. It’s your genorosity that has given many non-illustration talented people beautiful bannes. It’s your gift – you get to make the rules! With that said, I need to re-enter toot sweet!:) And keep my fingers crossed:)

  • Estrella

    It took me months of reading your blog before I actually got up the nerve to submit my wish for a banner. :-) I made my own (lame) banner to hold its place while I hoped. It’ll probably take me a few more months to submit a new entry. You are completely justified in writing this- people shouldn’t be asking for you to share your amazing talent if they’re not going to respect the gift you’ve given them. Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. :-)