Monthly Archives: December 2012

Crowdsourcing – Pros, Cons, Suggestions

99designs_logoOver the years I have worked with dozens of graphic designers to design logos, banners, brochures, etc. There are many advantages of working with a specific designer – one-on-one attention, can meet face-to-face to discuss and provide feedback on concepts, can establish a long-term relationship, etc.

From my standpoint there are two major disadvantages to working with a specific designer:

  1. You only get one designer’s ideas and perspective
  2. It can get very expensive – a single logo or brochure can costs thousands of dollars (if not tens of thousands of dollars)

During 2012 I had the opportunity to work with several crowdsourcing sites on multiple projects. I crowdsourced several logos and infographics throughout the year and have come away with several takeaways.

Before we get into the pros and cons let me briefly explain how the proces works.

With all crowdsourcing you are essentially running a design contest – and you pick the winner. You provide details regarding what you want, what you will pay and when the contest ends. At that point designers start submitting designs – for logos I received between 50 and 100 designs from as many as 30 different designers. You can provide feedback to designers and designers can submit updated designs based upon your feedback. offers three different pricing packages – $299, $499 and $799 – the more you pay the more designs you will get – it is just that simply. Only one designer gets the prize so if 50 designers submit concepts only one will get paid – and 49 will get nothing. (This is why so many designers – especially US based designers – hate the concept of design crowdsourcing – instead of getting thousands for a design they get hundreds for a design and they only get that if they win the contest.)

Crowdsourcing Pros:

  • Access to dozens or hundreds of designers
  • Access to designers from around the world
  • Get to see dozens or hundreds of different designs
  • Quick and easy process – from start finish in a week or less
  • Very cost effective

Crowdsourcing Cons:

  • Cultural/language differences when working with designers in other countries
  • Communicating by email much less efficient that communicating via meetings or phone calls
  • Final product sometimes needs some small tweaks which really require one-on-one discussions with a designer

Crowdsourcing Suggestions:

  • Crowdsourcing works best for for simple projects – complex projects or projects requiring significant back-and-forth with the designer are much less efficient.
  • Don’t choose the cheapest option – don’t do the $199 or $299 option – you will get designs but you will get twice as many designs from better designers if you offer a little more for the winner.
  • Guarantee payment – many crowdsourcing sites only require you to pay if you accept a design – the problem is that good designers do not want to spend their time on a design if there may not be a winner – to get the best designers guarantee payment.
  • Use a local designer to make final changes and integrate design into your other marketing material.

Although crowdsourcing is not a positive trend for local designers, it provides a cost-effective way to get a team of designers from around the world working for you and your company – that is a powerful marketing tool for less than $500.