John Coates over at the Freshbooks blog has a really good article on why as a designer you should avoid participating at places like 99Designs to find work. “Crowdsourcing” venues like this are becoming ever more popular, and are great place for designers to gamble (yes, gamble) on the hopes that their valuable time spent trying to win the money prize isn’t for nought.
However, if you are on the other side – the buyer side – crowdsourcing is an amazingly effective opportunity to keep costs down, have a contingency in case you lose a designer to an illness or them moving on, and find new talent.
How you can use spec work to build a business fast
If you’ve listened to the podcast, you’d know that one of the ways that I generate side income is to team up with designers that want to take on web design projects, but don’t have the technical ability to make their design into a functional site. I take their design, give it to my development team, and they get happy customers.
Well, there are thousands of designers out there that are looking to team up with developers. The beauty is that you don’t need to be a developer, you just need to be a leader, a salesman, and have the drive to start a business. Here’s what you can do:
- Hire a web developer on Elance, oDesk, or any other site where you can get a great virtual assistant at a great price.
- Start marketing your web development services to everyone that you know.
- When you find a new client, agree on the terms, and create wireframe mockups and take down or record all their needs.
- Create a contest on 99Designs
- Choose a winner based on your client’s liking (talk to the designer and ask for modifications if needed)
- Have your developer develop your client’s site and close the project.
- Tell that designer that if they can find clients on their end, you’ll do development for them (You’ll know that they are quality since they won the contest)
Simple yes. Easy, no, but it’s worth it. Do it the right way and you can make good profits with little implementation time on your part spent. Your hard work selling will pay off with clients on your end, and your agreement with the designer will mean more clients from their end.
Oh no! My designer is gone!
An offshoot of the above business model is using 99Designs and other crowdsourcing avenues as a contingency plan. Say you already work with a designer, but ill fate causes them to not be able to perform. Well, you could go and find another designer by interviewing, having them do a test design, etc., or you can just crowdsource and pick the best design (and the best designer).
After all is done, make contact with that designer and get him on your team. rinse and repeat.
It’s all relative
Yes, spec work can be a horrible place for designers to monetize their talents. However, it’s also a great way to discover a pool of amazingly skilled artists that you can use in your business in various ways. As with most situations, don’t just see black and white, look for ways to capitalize on the web working revolution that is changing the way we provide value to clients.
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