I’ve come across the issue of crowdsourcing design a fair bit recently, through conversations and discussions, and a few blog posts that have caught my eye, which has prompted me to write two posts of my own.
First up is a story of how I lost a client to crowdsourcing, written after reading Andrew Kelsall’s article “Losing Clients to Crowdsourcing Sites” and being struck by some similarities in our experiences. Here goes…
Almost 2 years ago a company I had worked for regularly approached me to refresh their logo, which I had designed several years previously. They had a very specific wish list of changes they wanted made, and once they approved my quote for the work, I made the changes and presented them with some options for the updated logo.
The company then changed their mind about what they wanted and asked me to ignore their wish list and create some more options. As this was outside the scope of the agreed quote, I replied that I’d be happy to work on more options but that I’d have to charge extra for it.
At this point the client informed me that before approaching me to do the work, they’d started a design competition for new logo designs and they’d like me to do the extra work as a competition entry. There was a cash prize, but the main benefit of winning would apparently be “fantastic exposure”.
Funnily enough though, I don’t remember getting fantastic exposure from designing the logo in the first place, so I declined the opportunity as politely as possible. I resisted the urge to lecture the client on the dodgy ethics of crowdsourcing and spec work, merely telling them that I don’t take part in competitions as working without guaranteed payment isn’t an efficient way to run a business.
Judging by their response to this, they didn’t seem offended or annoyed, but they’re no longer a regular client. Before this they had contacted me every few months for some work, but since them I’ve heard from them only once, and that was over a year ago.
I could have contacted them, I suppose, but the experience was disappointing and their use of crowdsourcing showed that they don’t put much value on my services, so it seemed best to let them go and concentrate on finding clients who do value quality design.
I don’t know if they’re still using crowdsourcing sites but I hope not. Their first attempt at running a design competition doesn’t seem to have gone well. I never saw any of the competition entries so I have no idea of how many they received or of the quality of the entries, but almost two years later, my original logo is still there, which does make me think that no one won that cash prize or received “fantastic exposure” from the project.
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