For over a year I've been creating these Writing Forums ads. I've been a member of Writing Forums for a couple years. I haven't written much, other than a few short stories, but I belong to the forum to keep hope alive that one day I might actually do some serious writing.
It didn't take long after joining I let slip I was a graphic designer. They jumped on that and made me a Media Manager, thereby allowing me near total creative freedom on banners, ads, and a few other things they needed for the site, while at the same time compensating me for my time with… well, we never really got around to that.
There is a monthly writing challenge in which members submit prompt phrases and vote on their favorite. That prompt phrase is then used as the monthly Literary Maneuver's Writing Challenge. I create the banner ad each month.
Some months are easier than others. A couple months ago they didn't pick a challenge but allowed each writer to select from one of the "seconded" prompts for that month (a prompt must be seconded by someone in order to qualify for voting). That month was pretty bland, graphically, because I had no visual concept upon which to work.
I've found that skulls are very popular in these ads. Whenever I include a skull the ad gets noticed and people make good comments in the forums. I haven't had any bad comments yet. I think people understand it's all for free so they aren't overly critical.
I usually spend anywhere from fifteen minutes to a half hour creating each ad. It's a good design / illustration excercise to go through - it helps keep me sharp.
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