Crowdsourced design websites have been common for years now, and appear to be gaining in popularity. It’s easy to see why they’re used by so many small businesses and startups: you pay a few hundred dollars to see a variety of designs and pick the one you like the most.
From a business’s perspective it’s cheaper and grants them more creative power versus hiring a talented designer. From a designer’s perspective though, it’s a race to the bottom where designers are fighting tooth and nail for scraps. However, both businesses and designers should be saying no to these types of websites.
Why Say No
If you’re a business owner and you truly believe in the value of the product/service you provide, your marketing needs to reflect your beliefs. When you hire a designer on a crowdsourced design website (let’s call them commodity designers) you’re missing out on the true value a professional designer brings to your creation: The ability to translate your business’s goals and desires into a design which speaks to the audience your aiming to attract.
It’s extremely rare to find a business owner who is also a great marketer and truly understands how a design should speak to an audience. Unless you’re truly exceptional at marketing, the moment you insert yourself into the design process you are creating a net-negative effect. To create a net-positive effect you need to hire a professional, provide them all the information you can about your business, your goals, and your audience. After that, it’s best to step aside and let the professional do what they do best.
Professional designers understand each business has it’s set of unique goals and challenges, so their designs adapt and reflect the individuality of the business. In the inverse, commodity designers are trying to create designs as quickly and efficiently as possible since most of them only make money when one of their designs is chosen. This means the designs you receive from them are generic, templated designs that will most likely underperform your expectations.
If you consider yourself a professional designer you’ll quickly understand why crowdsourced design websites are not worth your time or effort. However, if you don’t consider yourself a professional or still think they shouldn’t be dismissed completely, here’s a list of what your experience will be like:
- You’ll be competing against 10s if not 100s of other designers for the same prize
- You’ll only get paid if your design is chosen (which is usually a few hundred dollars at best)
- You’ll spend at least 1-3 hours designing for each contest
- You’ll never get “exposure” since most of the businesses running the contest will falter within a year
- You’ll rarely get feedback on your designs
Still don’t believe me? This article perfectly sums up (in a satirical way) the experience most designers go through. Also it explains why businesses should be wary of the type of designers present on those sites.
There is one, and only one exception for anyone to visit a crowdsourced design website. If you’re a new designer and want to some practice, then browsing the listings, downloading the files, and trying to create a design is a great way to gain experience.
Just don’t waste your time actually creating an account or submitting designs. There’s better things to do, like learning to juggle, exercising, or wrestling a bear.
If working through a crowdsourced design website isn’t a viable option, how else should you generate new work? Luckily, there are tried and true ways, such as going to local events and reconnecting with your network. You may have already tried those, but one simple change to your approach with both can have a huge impact. Here’s an article to guide you through that change:
I guarantee if you implement this you’ll start to gain traction. New work may not come right away, but if you’re persistent you’ll see results in no time.