The REALationship Difference: You, Me, and Crowdsourcing

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Crowdsourcing. You’ve probably heard of it before: It’s the practice of running a contest to solicit dozens, or even hundreds, of service providers to submit their solutions to your dilemma, without any promise of payment to them. The person whose solution is ultimately selected as the winner, receives a meager payout, while the others receive nothing. It can be used for many different applications, design being one of the most popular in recent years.

The Dark Side of Crowdsourcing Design

While it IS a bargain, and it IS possible to get a good logo, website, or other product out of it, crowdsourcing is also INHERENTLY UNFAIR to both the contest holder (client) and the participants (designers).

  • The client takes a lot of risks, including but not limited to, the risk of getting a design that can’t be edited later, and the risk of receiving a design that is a knock-off of an already-copyright-protected design, thereby opening the door for legal trouble down the road.
  • Meanwhile, the designer busts his or her bum, entering dozens of contests, and spending hundreds of unpaid hours, all to get one little payout on the rare occasion they’re selected as the winner of a contest. (I know this from experience: Having dabbled in crowdsourced logo design early in my career, I noticed that even the best designers only won about 1 out of every 25 to 100 contests they entered. When you combine all that unpaid time with the fact that the (at best, occasional, at worst, rare) payout is only 25 to 50 percent of fair market value for a design service, it’s no wonder that it’s impossible for a designer to eek out any sort of living doing crowdsourcing.)

To further illustrate the differences between crowdsourcing and the high-quality work I do here at Sweet Dreamz Design, I’ve put together this lovely chart for you.

The REALationship Difference

When you get down to it, one of the biggest things crowdsourcing lacks is the ability for the client and designer to develop a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship based on trust and respect of one another.

To put it in a metaphor, it’s sort of like buying your produce at the grocery store versus at a farmers market: With the former, you have little knowledge of where your food is coming from, or who planted and harvested it; but, with the latter, you meet the farmer face-to-face, and get delicious produce that you know is super-fresh, having been grown on a farm just on the other side of town. Which option you prefer depends on your values: do you want cheap, lousy quality that serves no one, or excellent high-quality that is mutually beneficial for all involved?

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About Barbara Austin

As the graphic designer & founder of Sweet Dreamz Design, Barbara loves working with women entrepreneurs to brand their businesses. She shares a variety of small business advice and anecdotes here on the blog. Check back every week for new tips, inspirations, and how-to articles, or subscribe to get regular updates in your inbox each week!

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