It’s easy to understand why clients and buyers find an appeal in spec work and crowdsourcing. Nothing to lose, everything to gain. Oodles of free design work and “lots of choice.” But what about participating designers? How do they fare in the “new reality?”
Over the years I’ve been a pretty vocal critic of spec work and crowdsourcing, both as a business owner and as a designer (the related posts at the bottom of this one will lead you to several of my screeds). For this post, however, we’re going to leave the criticism aside. In fact, for the sake of this exercise we’re going to take the talking points of pro-crowdsourcing advocates at face value and try to determine how ‘worthwhile’ spec work and crowdsourcing is, solely from the point of view of a designer. As a way of making a sustainable living. In order to gather enough information, and to paint the rosiest picture we can, we’ll take a look at the TOP FIVE PERFORMERS (very important to keep in mind) of the major logo design contest and crowdsourcing sites. I don’t want to bag on any designers, so wherever appropriate I’ve blurred out names and avatars. The information is available at the links provided.
Chicago’s Crowdspring call themselves the fastest growing design crowdsourcing site in the world, and with a claimed number of designers on the plus side of 80,000 can’t really blame them. Like most design contest sites, Crowdspring has an open roster of ‘creatives’ that ranks designers on the total number of entries submitted. Here’s the top five –
Logo Tournament also ranks their designers by total number of entries and features a rating system that involves cute little trophies. Here’s the top five designers there –
Logo Design Guru’s Mycroburst does all the work for us, presenting win ratios as part of their designer listings. Predictably, because their ‘community’ is much smaller, the win ratios of their ‘leading’ designers are a little higher than the other sites featured.
Logo My Way
Logo My Way stacks their designer directory by number of contests won, so their listings are a very real indication of the win/participation of their site. Once again, the top five (we skipped over the actual third place designer because they’ve been suspended for six months) -
Australia’s 99designs hasn’t been included in our little survey because they don’t feature a searchable directory of their designers (probably to avoid exercises of this very nature). While the foremost logo design contest platform boasts a ‘community’ of over 190,000 in their advertising and Twitter page, they’ve started to dial-back on the claims on their website. Those numbers are probably inflated all to hell, because guess what happens when you want to cancel your account at 99designs? You can’t
So what did we learn from this exercise? Couple of things. The first, and most notable, is that your chances of winning a design contest is much higher on sites with smaller “communities.” Only makes sense. If design contests and crowdsourcing are your bag, for the tme being anyway, it seems like Mycroburst is your best option. Trouble is, the larger the “community”, the more participation, greater number of entries and much less chance of rising above the noise. The second thing we can sort of learn (admittedly unscientific mind you) is that if you’re a decent designer and enter a helluva lot of contests, your win average will probably fall within the 6 – 9.5% range. Put another way, if you’re a decent designer and put in the time, you can expect to get paid for 1 contest in 10 to 15. Paid for 1 hour out of 10 to 15. And between 90% to 94% of your time spent will be for naught. If, as a professional designer, you’re okay with those odds, have at it.
Don’t think I’ll be joining you anytime soon.
- Snippets: Spec work & crowdsourcing edition
- Numbers – The ever-shifting realities of crowdsourcing and design contest sites.
- Spec work hackery redux. More of our work copied & entered into 99designs logo design contest
- Yet another anti-spec work initiative
- The Crowdsourcing Dilemma. Spec work, crowdsourcing and Crowdspring on NPR