There are a lot of designers out there whom I respect tremendously. Some of those same designers are completely against doing spec work, and I can definitely see their point of view.
I feel as though I have a unique perspective and can add something to the conversations about crowdsourcing.
Unique Blog Designs and Crowdsourcing…
So from that angle, I would assume that most of you would think I would be siding with the designers I mentioned above… but I’m not.
You see, we have seen all the stages and the positives and negatives about being a freelance designer as well as a professional design firm who does work for fortune 500 companies.
I remember the days when I was trolling malls and local small businesses to find work for infinFX (Nate and I’s other design company before UBD). It was basically Nate who was the designer and me who was the Biz Dev guy trying to make it work. We did get some business but having many consistent paying customers eluded us.
The goal for us was not to stay freelancers but to build revenue and clients well enough to form a solid company.
Better for both the consumer and the freelancer. When we were just getting started, it would have been great to have tons of options and consistent work for us to do while building our brand and customer base. Both of which freelancers can more easily do using 99designs.com and crowdspring.com.
For the consumer, they now have access to thousands of designers for their projects and can also get them done for a lower price… generally. The best part is that they don’t have to pay for anything that they don’t want to use.
Now, Why Crowdsourcing Does NOT Negatively Affect Professional Design Firms…
I would consider Unique Blog Designs a professional design firm, although we are very small. It is Myself, Matt, Nate and 4 in-house employees. I can only speak from my own experiences.
Most owners of professional design firms that I have talked to, take pride in the fact that they turn down customers all the time in order to make every project that they take on as successful as possible.
Over time you come to realize that not all projects are worth taking on, even if they pay a lot of money.
What’s the reason?
Not every type of client can match well with your particular firm. This design firm can specialize in artsy design, another can specialize in b2b design, one can specialize in UI, another can specialize in Ecommerce, etc, etc.
Professional design firms build their brand and success by ensuring that each client that chooses them, will be more successful for doing so. We pride ourselves greatly on trying to achieve this goal.
It is impossible for us to take on even 25% of the clients who want to work with us. Mostly for budgetary concerns but also because of the things that we specialize in and don’t specialize in.
Having sites like sitepoint.com, 99designs.com, and crowdspring.com, are great resources for us to be able to refer potential clients to, without having to put our own brand on the line.
I would really love to hear what some of the guys who also own professional design firms would say about my perspective.
I would also strongly recommed reading Jeremiah Owyang‘s post on the subject. He is an analyst from Forrester Research and was a UI designer in a past life.
Another resource for crowdsoucing is crowdsourcing.com by Jeff Howe. I have personally read his book and it is a must for anyone interested in the subject. Jeff is also a writer for Wired.com.
Please let me know your thoughts and opinions as I am open to discussion about this seemingly controversial subject.