Sounds like a good deal at the time, but this email received by a client caused them probably to lose tens of thousands of pounds in lost business over 4 years, in general my advice would be to ignore expert website designers that are willing to design your site for free as they will invariably ruin your site, ruin your search engine ranking and harm your business. Here is the email message he received:
I am starting my own business. I am looking for some companies in the photography industry who I can use as testimonials and therefore I want to complete some work completely free of charge for you. My business model is small websites, in addition to your current site, that appear on page one of Google and drive in new customers.
Therefore I am offering to do the following for you and will never charge you anything, honestly no catches, I just want some glowing feedback from you once you see new clients rolling in:
1) I will create you a brand new website, the site will be top of the range, no expense spared, with modern design and in your company’s current branding.
2) The website will be a small but fantastic addition to your current site and will include all of your content and shows of your portfolio of work fantastically.
3) The site will be linked to your main website also in case people want to click through.
I will then get this website high up on Google for search terms that are guaranteed to bring you in new clients and future business. This is the key factor as being on Google will bring in lots of new work for you.
This is my business model, websites that dont just look great but actually work in achieving you new business enquiries automatically. I am happy to do this completely free of charge for you and can have it finished within just a week. I would usually charge £1,000 for a package like this, however all I ask is to feature your work on my own website and perhaps you could speak to future clients, briefly if needed to say how good I am. It would be good if we could have a chat on the phone first, if you are keen, please give me the following:
A time before midday tomorrow when you will be available?
Also the best number to reach you on?
An idea of what you want completing, links to things you like?
3 key phrases you would like to be on Google for example = wedding photographer in (area)