Crowd sourcing design sites have become very popular recently. One such site is 99designs.com; Gaining very huge profits in a very short span of time from when it was created. Customers prefer holding design contest for them because of the freedom to choose and ease of use. Contest holders pick winning design, designers get paid, web site earns; everybody’s happy right? Well that is not always the case; these kinds of sites offer their designers hundreds of dollars for designers to submit design for them. But the thing that sucks the most for a designer is losing a contest after putting so much work and time had been put into the design.
Money is the motivation
Designers that join these contests are not always professionals. Others join because of the prize money regardless if he knows design or is a student studying graphics design. Some professionals join for an extra income and to hone their skills. Many use it for training and self teaching graphics design while at the same time having to monetize their work. Those starting a career for graphic design also participate in design contest for building up portfolios while having an opportunity for an extra income. The bottom line is the green stuff. It all comes down to it
The worst part
A designer should always treat design contests professionally and with no emotional connection. But as a designer, one can’t stop from getting emotional especially if too much time and work had been invested. Designers would fall into a continuous flow of sudden emotional changes – happiness, excitement, expectation, and disappointment.
Case in point
For example you are a designer; you see a contest and read the brief. You tell yourself, “Hey I think I can do this, and I could really use that extra money”. You get a pencil and paper and start with your design process. You create the digital version of your design and submit your design concept. You get a little bit excited checking out if your design has had any feedback or rating. You read the feedback and you do the changes that the contest holder wanted, then you submit your second design. You get a higher rating with a positive feedback. But at the end of the contest you find that other design had been picked as the winner. You get disappointed but there is nothing you can do about it. You then search for other design contest and the cycle goes on. Eventually you would get a win that would boost up your confidence and motivate you to join more contests, still the cycle goes on.
Breaking the emotional cycle
Designers must always remember that at the end of the day, you haven’t wasted anything because you had the experience to design and opportunity to learn. One way of breaking the cycle is taking a day off especially if you just lost a contest. You would feel less stress if you focus on other things. These types of things don’t need to be stressful.
If you are heading towards making a professional career, perhaps you could stop joining contest for a few months and really focus on developing your design skills. When you feel that you are good enough, you can go back to joining contests and show-of your new skills to everyone. It is important that designers have at least basic knowledge about design history, fundamentals and techniques though before engaging into this line of work.
Here are a few tips for those who want to start earning money from crowd source design sites:
Master the pen tool – Creating vector either for illustrations or logos is a part of being a designer. Familiarize the keyboard shortcuts such as, A > direct selection tool, + > add anchor points, - > delete or remove anchor points and more. Those little fellas on your keyboard will become very important part of your designing career, so make friends with them.
Don’t just jump into the pool – You have to prepare, but if you do decide to jump at least take your shirt of first. Research about what graphic design is all about. Read blogs and articles about design. Remember, it is always better to know what you’re up against.
Patience – Being an excellent designer doesn’t always guarantee a win. It all comes down to what the contest holder really likes. No matter how good your design is, if it gets low ratings it means you are not on the right track.
Learn the basics of Photoshop – If you are in a warzone, Photoshop (or whatever raster based image programs you choose) will be your rifle. Learn about blending modes and blending options, applying gradients and using the basic tools. A little tip for new designers (having no background about GD) is to have control from using the “bevel and emboss” effect excessively. Results are most of the time unpleasant. You don’t have to learn everything all at once, it happens gradually.