« The Top Eight Butt-Ugliest Logos in Sports Today | Main | 5 Hour Energy "Stink" - Who the Heck is This Stuff For? »


Hi Jeremy,

This is a refreshing and pragmatic view about crowdSPRING and change in the design industry. You are absolutely correct that it's no longer about whether the industry SHOULD change - change is here and it's important for designers and the industry to evolve and embrace the change by looking for opportunities to "adapt and compete on a new playing field."


Ross Kimbarovsky

Thank you for your comments, Ross.

When I first started designing years and years ago, a girlfriend who'd been in the industry for awhile chided me for not charging enough. She told me that I was bringing down the industry and hurting other freelancers. Rubbish. There are ALWAYS going to be lower-priced options out there - successful freelancers will learn to find a competitive advantage over them.

I know a lot of "professional" freelancers here in the States are hurting (I really do feel badly for these folks), so I don't want to be insensitive to their plight, but arguing, trying to regulate fees or complaining about things won't help - see recording industry VS. MP3s. I understand the frustration freelancers have with the economy and with additional competition but there are always ways to effectively compete against less expensive products and services.

Ross, I wish you and your site well - come back and visit me soon. I wish my fellow freelancers well out there too - I know things are tough but I am here to help you guys.

For once I must agree with the Mr. Kimbarovsy. The bad news for him is that part of "competing on a new playing field" with services like Crowdspring is educating businesses why working with professional designers is better in the long run and why sites like CS are a very bad way to have anything designed.

Thankfully, the reasons are legion.

- the extremely high risk of copied or improperly licensed artwork. For which Crowdspring claims to have no legal responsibility.

- having design developed in the 'open', ripe for copy by other competing businesses BEFORE copyright and trademark protections are in place.

- your design work being sold by same designer, to another business on different site, sometimes on the very same one

- shoddy technical support for which CS takes absolutely no responsibility as the people that work on CS aren't employees of Crowdspring, nor does CS accept any legal responsibility for their activities, services rendered or design work delivered

- use of illegal and improperly licensed software. Actually discussed openly in CS forums. Whether this has any impact on the legality of artwork created is anyone's guess, but it's certainly a bad vibe and Adobe probably aren't too cool with it

- the idea that your company is partaking in an exploitative practice that engages teenagers, desperate designers and people from overseas looking for any way possible to earn money, and one that seems to be getting a lot of critical attention at the moment. At some point some graphic design organization will start 'outing' companies that have had their logos, brochures and websites created using developing nation wage levels to do so. Any publicity is good publicity they say, but remember Nike and slave labor? That wasn't so good.

Now that you mention it, I think I like this 'new playing field'. Freelance designers never had so much sales ammunition to use against their 'competition'.

You're right; there are significant inherent risks to working with sites like this.

This is an excellent point that you can bring up if you meet a potential client that is considering using your services or one of these online bidding sites.

The key is to build your case to clients as to why you are the best fit for their project. If you can do this you get the business if you can't, you don't.

PS - If all a freelancer has to sell is "good design", they're in trouble.

interesting post. It's true how it is hard to compete out there, especially with an economic crisis at hand. Everyone has no choice but to adapt and make changes with their business choices. Hopefully we make good ones and can ride it out till things get better.

As a creative muse for crowdSPRING (http://99designs.com/contests/321) and the largest online marketplace for crowdsourced design, we appreciate your level headed view.

All the best,


Very good article. I have used elance a few times and can attest that there is thousands of individuals out there offering a very low price on work. However it really is true that you get what you pay for. I decided to give one a go and spent more time editing and communicating back and forth that it would have been cheaper to get a professional to do it right from the beginning.

Good comment (C.W.D.). You're right, you do often get what you pay for. It's funny, I've heard both freelancers and business owners say, "You get what you pay for" in trying to convince a prospect to choose to work with them. While true, prospects don't typically like to hear this. This is a tired and empty phrase that has lost meaning.

But telling your prospect that you've found that people that use eLance end up spending twice as much time and energy getting a project done would make a difference to them. Use this type of logic in your sales pitch.

Thanks for allowing me to use your post as an (C.W.D.), great observation!

Thanks Jeremy. Somehow I had missed this post, but stumbled on it today. I was feeling a bit doomed today, so it was just the pep talk I needed! : )

Sorry to say this train has already left the station.

The issue is not about creativity, it's about economics. And this (below) is the best analysis of why crowdsourcing is the monster that will eventually eat your job:

"The introduction of outsourcing platforms that makes worker productivity portable and portable global capital leads to global labor arbitrage (which neatly guts the theories of comparative advantage upon which belief in the beneficial effects of modern trade theory is based). In short, exploiting the differences between the wages of the western middle class and those in developing economies is now costless and risk free (which makes it an arbitrage opportunity).

Arbitrage opportunities, once found, typically reset to zero quickly (the differences in prices are brought into parity). The result in this case will be a globally normalized wage where the same price is paid for labor no matter where it is located geographically. Almost certainly, given what we are currently seeing right now, the biggest shift will be in the collapse in the incomes of the Western middle class instead of upward movement among low wage competitors."


See also "Pyramids to pancakes" by Josephine Green Senior Director Trends and Strategy at Philips Design.

The comments to this entry are closed.

How You Can Stop Starving

My Photo

Illustrations from Books

  • BASAS - Freelancer Getting Strung Up by Client
    A very small sample of the actual illustrations drawn for the Being a Starving Artist Sucks, and Verbal Kung Fu for Freelancers book. The illustrations were done by: Matt Hein, Rich Arnold and Carlos Ponce - 3 outstanding designers.