There’s a lot of controversy when it comes to crowdsourcing websites, and after thinking about the topic quite a while, I would like to share my thoughts. Most of all, I believe that young designers see these sites as a easy way to get some experience, build some portfolio and perhaps—with a bit of luck—make some money on the side.
That all may be true, but there’s a high price to be paid.
If you are using these sites for the reasons I mentioned above, the truth is that when you feel ready to work with real clients, there aren’t going to be any real client anymore. Why? Clients will get use to this business model, and consequently, they will all be looking for designers on crowdsourcing sites for their future work, and guess what’s going to happen? Designers even younger than you will be there getting experience and building portfolio.
Can’t you catch the catch-22 there?
Crowdsourcing sites are getting popular by the day, and if they continue to grow, why clients would ever come back to work with designers on a one-to-one basis ever again? Think about it. If clients can get so much “value” there, as these sites seem to promote themselves as good value, why would they ever bother hiring a designer?
Watch the animation below and imagine yourself there to get the picture!
Animation about spec work by Topic Simple.
Put it simply, crowdsourcing sites are plain evil. They prey on the inexperience of young designers, and many non-designers, to get work for free. What do you think? Is that ethical? If you are looking to become a professional designer, I advice staying away of these sites.
Start practicing your skills, develop a portfolio and learn more about the design trade with your own local community. Do loads of pro-bono work to business in your neighbourhood, that will help them raise their game with your design, and you’ll not only be gaining experience, building a portfolio, but also raising your reputation as well.
When you least expect, you’ll get referrals with real work. The old fashion paying kind.