I've been screwed by paying clients before, but never by a pro bono one, until today. I'd like your advice and comments. Here's the situation...
I was approached by someone starting a home organization business (a service that comes to your house, helps you de-clutter and clean, and teaches you how to organize things). She didn't really have money to pay me to design / build a web site, but she was a friend-of-a-friend, and in desperate need of a good site. Her web site needs were fairly simple, and she gave me a lot of creative control, so I decided to take on the project.
I spent some time (enough to wish I was being paid!) designing and building out the site. I was about 90% complete and pretty happy with the design and functionality. I was looking forward to including the site in my portfolio. But after several attempts to get that last 10% of content I needed, I finally heard back from the client.
She has several legitimate issues (legal, business, and personal health) that she claims are preventing her from finishing and launching the site for at least 3-6 months. So now I feel kinda screwed, because the only benefit I was getting from this project was having a good site to add to my portfolio.
I have two ideas, and I'd love to hear what everyone thinks about them...
Buy a generic domain name related to the organizing business. "De-brand" the site, swapping in a generic logo, removing all references to the client's name and company name, and removing any other "specific" info. Publish the site so I can add it to my portfolio and have prospects see it in the wild. If and when the client wants to launch her real site, I would just take down the generic version.
Approach other people in the same line of work. Explain that I have a site, tailored to their business, almost ready to go. Offer a significant discount on my normal fee, have them send me their specific content, put the site behind their domain name, and publish. If and when my pro bono client wants to launch her real site, she would either have to accept that it would now look like another live site /or/ pay me to do a redesign.
Thoughts? Comments? Other ideas?
I'm not trying to hurt the pro bono client, just derive some value from the hard work I did.