If I Am a Freelancer, Why Did I Do This?
What I wanted to do here was to take an objective (as much as I can) look at what all of the buzz was about concerning CrowdSpring and this concept of "spec work". Jeremiah Owyang (social media and cutting-edge Internet genius) tried a similar experiment with one of his creative projects - I figured I'd do the same.
the whole spec work debate - I know both sides and I know their talking points,
honestly I can empathize with both of them. I've already covered that terrain
in past posts (search for them if you'd like) so I won't get into that here. Both sides will undoubtedly be
checking this post out and looking for ammunition for their respective side - I
can appreciate this, but I've done my best to just write a simple, objective
look at what I experienced being a client instead of a designer.
I'd also like to point out before getting into the actual review that the folks at CrowdSpring were both respectful and encouraging when it came to this review. I know some love this company and some not so much, but whatever side of the fence you're on I wanted to first say that they were pretty cool about hearing I was going to review their process - I appreciated that.
- The designer that won the contest (Brad) was friendly and fairly timely with his designs.
- I made a comment about the speed of the customer service at CrowdSpring, but they were quite helpful and friendly.
- I was able to upload sample files for designers to look at and get inspiration from - nice touch.
- Even though some of the logos weren't of the best quality, there were a few in there that weren't bad - and my client did pick one of them and seemed pretty happy with it.
- You don't have to leave the office.
- You can have a lot of different creative looks to your project (versus having 1 designer try many concepts).
- Payment is quick and
Cons (Many of these have nothing to do with CrowdSpring, just the nature of working with someone purely online - eLance, Guru and Sologig would have many of the same issues):
- As the client/business owner, you have to type EVERYTHING out. From working with clients for years, I know they despise this - they would rather dictate and have me scramble to take notes.
- You can plan on investing 1-3 hours typing communications/emails and reviews back and forth. Between feedback and clarification this can eat up a lot of time.
- As a business owner, if you aren't really sure you know what you want, be prepared for ANYTHING. I laid out pretty clear instructions (again, I've been doing this for over 10 years), but I still got some wacky concepts. In all fairness, I'm sure I've created off-the-wall concepts as well.
- The logos I received varied in quality quite a bit (some good and some were pretty bad) in fairness to CrowdSpring, I placed a $200 bid which the site indicated was a bit low (sorry this was for a non-profit). I am sure if a client places a higher dollar figure on it, they'll get better results.
- The site does promise 25 different entries/designs to choose from - I received 26. However, many of the entries were designed by the same artist and varied just a little from their other designs. I am not sure if I have a better solution for CrowdSpring on this, but I felt a little cheated. Again, I am sure at a higher dollar figure would ensure this might not happen as much.
- The customer service at CrowdSpring was a little slow in getting back to me (a few hours to a day)...I don't think I saw a phone number either. But in fairness to them, I am used to Twitter's speed so I am spoiled.
- Don't expect marketing advice or guidance, CrowdSpring and other sites like it focus purely on design. If you are a savvy marketer, this shouldn't be a problem. If you don't know positioning, niche marketing and psychographic profiling from the hole in your rear, you might want to look into someone who can provide both marketing expertise and design.
The Bottom Line: Did I feel badly for those that didn't win? Do I think spec work is evil?
Based on my experience, do I think spec work will completely obliterate traditional freelance designers as we know them...and perhaps replace them all with super cyborg designers who will work for next to nothing?
No. I can see where spec work might be attractive to some clients, but for others I am not sure it's a good fit - especially when they haven't worked with a designer before.
Absolutely. I am not sure every client out there will, but didn't feel right about telling artists that clearly put some time into their logo that they didn't win. By the way, I offered everyone who entered a logo their choice of my Being a Starving Artist Sucks or Verbal Kung Fu for Freelancers book for free.
Hmm, I think the word "evil" is tossed around a little too loosely. Sadly, there's a lot of evil in this world - I mean real evil but I am not sure I would put spec work in this category. I see this is causing freelancers to rethink their strategy (including me), but I still see opportunities for those that can adapt.
Was this review fair or foul?
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PS - Tutorialblog.org just reviewed Being a Starving Artist Sucks and Verbal Kung Fu for Freelancers, did think they were "sleepers" or "keepers"?
Did I feel badly for those that didn't win?
Do I think spec work is evil?