Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Fellow Graphic Designers and Web Designers - "Forbes" Indicates the End of the World As We Know It

By Jeremy Tuber I stumbled on an article written in Forbes Magazine on February 16th, 2009 called, "The Creativity of Crowds," by Christopher Steiner. The article highlights two Chicagoans and their company called CrowdSpring. Their plan is to help entrepreneurs buy allowing them to hire design help at a fraction of the cost a talented freelancer would charge. Good news if you're a business owner. Bad news if you're a creative freelancer trying to get paid a fair price for your work. So what's the big deal? eLance and Guru have been around for years True, however a new idea, "hire an amateur designer," is slowly creeping into the business mainstream. Whereas years ago not too many business owners (besides the technically savvy ones) didn't have any clue about

sites like eLance, Guru or CrowdSpring, they either know now or they're going to know really soon. Change is coming...in fact, it's already here. Why is this happening to the graphic design industry? Pretty simple: the economy is pushing businesses to save money - hard. Business owners are looking to shave expenses any chance they can get, and the truth is, the first cuts they ALWAYS make are in areas that don't directly produce revenue...can you say design? Creative support and marketing are always the first to get cut when a company hits hard times. Are sites like eLance, and CrowdSpring are ruining the creative freelancing industry? Not really, and anyone saying they are really doesn't understand capitalism and how it works. They're essentially providing opportunities for anyone and everyone to compete against you. The influx of "wanna-be" designers who'll create just about anything for a bus pass and an Arby's coupon is driving down the price of design work and causing a bit of a panic on the freelancers' side. Freelancers are throwing their arms up in the air saying, "How in the heck can I compete with some college kid that's happy making $12/hr. when I am trying to run a business?!" These web sites are leveling the playing field between the accomplished designer and someone who just got Adobe's latest Creative Suite last week as a way to make a few extra bucks. And don't think that these wanna-be's need a degree from a fancy design school to find work in this economic climate where almost every businesses is looking for a deal. If their work is passable and they are priced at a fraction of the cost of a professional, there will definitely be some cost-conscious, risk-taking business owners that'll give them a chance. I looked at CrowdSpring.com's web site on a couple of weeks ago. They had 170 open projects available and 14,845 registered people looking for work. All other things considered equal that comes to a 1.1% chance that you'll get a project over the rest of the field. In Mr. Steiner's article he references a marketing consultant that offered just $250 for a logo, 5 days later she had 112 designers to choose from. That's devastating news considering you'll find similar odds on other online job posting sites for creative freelancers. So how can creative freelancers compete with cheaper design options? The good news is that there is a tremendous opportunity for creative freelancers that can adapt and compete on a new playing field; one where the out-of-work Mom/Dad, college kid or the recreational designer can't possibly compete with you on.That playing field is all about generating sales and revenue with good design. Trying to compete on lowest price, artist talent or great service is a sure ticket to the unemployment line - there are just too many other options spouting those platitudes, and there isn't enough demand to keep up. The truth is, if your creative talents can consistently bring your clients more revenue and more sales- and you actually make rather than cost your client money, you will always be able to find work. That's how you compete with these low-cost designers. Any person with Adobe Photoshop, access to online tutorials and a template can easily crank out a logo, business card, advertisement or even a web site. Heck, I've seen kids in junior high do it. The real question is, can their work bring in clients and create revenue? It's a brand new world out there and whether you or graphic design organizations like nospec.com like it or not, change is coming. I have a lot of respect for these organizations that try to uphold the integrity and status quo for design industry, but they are fighting a losing battle - a lot like the record industry trying to fight MP3s. The choice is to either adapt to fit the market or find yourself a new line of work. I don't like it either guys, but stopping this trend's is going to be like holding back the ocean with a broom. "Competition will always be nipping at your heals. If you stop running or rely on the status quo - you'll get swallowed." * Wish you had more referrals coming in? * Confused about how to price your work? * Feel like clients try to take advantage of you? * Wish you knew what to say to clients and how to say it so you sound more professional? Truth is, freelancing is not an entry-level job that you're going to find success in by learning as you go, searching for free info on the Internet and having a good attitude. I won't help you with Photoshop techniques or color theory but I can sure as heck help you run a more profitable, enjoyable freelancing business. I've been in the field for over 10 years, I know what it's like to struggle at first, and I know what you'll need to know to become successful.

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