Imagine the situation:
You start working for a new company, with a cushty office job. You walk into the building on your first day and the surroundings look glorious, the decor is tasteful, the atmosphere is inviting, and you’re surrounded by eager, like-minded colleagues; around a hundred of you in one large open office.
But just as you’re about to settle in to begin work, the boss comes in and calls over everyone.
“Ok everyone, this week we’re going to do something different. On Friday we’ll evaluate what each of you have done, and whoever we decide has done the best will be paid. Only that person will be paid.”
And so you begin working, throwing yourself into the projects and giving them your all.
Friday comes and the bosses take all the work away, and then a few hours later announce that one of your colleagues has won. They, and only they have been paid this week.
All your hard work was for nothing.
“But don’t worry everyone. There’s always next week.”
So whilst your colleague is happy with his ‘winnings’, and your boss is happy he got a ton of work for free, you’re sat wondering how you’re going to pay the bills and feed the family.
Welcome to the world of a 99Designs designer – a place where you pay a set amount and have numerous talented artists and designers battle it out to win over several days or weeks.
Now you may be thinking, as someone that requires some design work doing – “Hey, I don’t care about that. I’m getting a great deal here! I get to pick and choose from tons of work.”
But here’s where it could actually harm you.
To be slightly hypocritical here, I have been one of these designers on a similar site when I first became a freelancer a few years ago. The design brief for this ‘competition’ was for a futuristic woman’s portrait. I threw a few designs out there, making sure the client knew I had rights to the images used. There was a bit of feedback and after adjusting my images, found out I was in the lead! This was great! But this was an open competition, meaning other designers could see my work.
And in turn – steal my work!
Suddenly others were taking my actual image and using it!! By simply adding to it, they were claiming it was their own work! Finally I was knocked off the top spot by someone using an image from the game Final Fantasy XIII, a character named Lightning. Not only had they not adjusted this image, but they had claimed actual ownership of it!
Now this client was from a large American communications company (I’m not sure why they didn’t use in-house designers) and using this image will have caused a lot of legal issues down the line.
Not to be vindictive, but I actually emailed the client telling them to be careful and directing them to a Final Fantasy XIII trailer. The client thanked me stating that he could has lost his job had he proceeded!
The Lightning design was rejected, and the client faced a torrent of abuse on the comments section.
‘Lightning’ – most definitely owned by Square Enix.
And here is the problem – not only do sites like this give designers a bad name and water down the talent pool, but because the sites don’t have to be regulated much, anyone can join and try their best to win a fast buck by putting forward stolen work. And obviously this can harm the client in long run.
Not only this but as a client you will spend hours pouring over hundreds of entries, giving feedback to each. If 90% of entries are garbage, this is a massive waste of time. Then there are the language barriers – as the competitions are open to the world. I’ve seen so many of these problems as client and designer become frustrated over miscommunications.
Clearly in other countries, the prize money is worth a lot more, which makes these sites all the more attractive.
And now we come to Fiverr!
A while ago I got a message through my Facebook page if I did ‘custom fantasy covers’ and what my price was.
I stated my terms and the ACTUAL reply was – ‘Oh I see. It’s just because I’ve seen some on Fiverr and wanted to see if you could do better. Do it well and they’ll be a lot more work your way.’
That’s right – this guy had asked if I would produce a fully illustrated, fully customised book cover – around ten hours worth of work, for the huge amount of $5.
That’s about £3.70 – about the cost of a pint of Stella.
And he was deadly serious.
I kindly said he would never find a designer who would work for that. He didn’t reply back.
The worse thing was, his profile picture was him in a suit, sat on the bonnet of a sports car, wearing a huge cheesy grin. Prick.
With Fiverr you’ll see the words ‘Custom’ and ‘Unique’ bandied around a lot. The sad fact is that this will never be the case. Guaranteed many other people will have your exact logo should you go this route. As the age old saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Fiverr and similar budget design sites will only give you very low quality, repeated work.
Saying this though, I have seen young student and beginner designers making use of these sites to build their portfolio. But these are few and far between. It would be more beneficial contacting them directly and building a rappor.
And thus this brings me to the end of my post – using a good designer who you can trust.
If you’re serious about your business, and want to promote it in the best light. Then you will always be better off finding a designer you can trust. Someone who will understand your requirements inside and out. Someone who will actually give a damn about your success, who will guide and offer advice rather than blindly follow orders. Someone who will keep all your work backed up and on hand should you lose it all. Someone who will be willing to liaise with printers, other designers, colleagues of yours to make your life easier.
Of course you may pay a little extra (although 99Designs is NOT cheap!) but the money will certainly be worth it.
And don’t just take my word for it. A simple google search of these sites will tell you exactly what I have.
Find a good designer, and give your business the attention it deserves.
Good design should be cultured, not farmed. 😉
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten…”