Are Sites Like bad?

There are many different discussions on the web on the advantages and disadvantages of crowdsourcing and cheap design websites. Sites like, that allow multiple designers to compete for your work, and which offers designs beginning at $5, are becoming more and more popular. But are sites like these bad?

What are some positives for sites like fiverr and 99designs? For one, they are cheap. If you do not have any budget for design, you can get what you need for a small price. Because of the low price, you can get multiple items designed and not break your budget. There are also a good many overseas designers that use these sites. In America, you can hardly buy a gallon of gas for $5 but in some countries, that little amount can go further. Also, winning a contest can help you receive more work on 99designs, and fiverr lets you add other features or bundles to sell.

What seems to be the problem with these types of sites? One huge problem designers see with 99designs is you are basically doing spec work. Spec work is any kind of creative work that has been submitted to the client without the designer being compensated for it. According to their website, 99designs does state that the designer retains ownership of the work until they pass off rights to the buyer, but once your work is out there, anyone can see it an create their own to look like yours. You wouldn't ask a multiple builders to come build rooms on your house then choose the one you like best and tear down the others would you? Then why ask a designer to produce work that you are not going to use? If you do not have the funds, then negotiate prices with a local designer.

How it Started
When fiverr and 99designs first came on the scene, many in the graphic design field instantly hated it. After all, paying $5.00 for a logo vs $300+ was ludicrous! Designers felt like these sites were stealing bread off of their tables. But what many have found out in the years since the sites have began, is that they were not going to get those clients anyway. Most people looking for a cheap logos, like startups, super small businesses, or individuals, are only looking for a temporary solution to brand their companies with. Or they may think that all they need is a logo and do not see the need for business cards, or any kind of marketing material.

Lately though, people are seeing these sites as a road to more projects. On Fiverr you can provide a price for the services you offer, allowing you to provide a low price for a business card layout that brings attention to you, and then offer more options, like a brochure or product book, at a higher price.

What is the Impact
Crowdsourcing and cheap design sites are doing to the graphic design community what online print sites have done for commercial printers. You can get your project printed cheaper, but how is the quality, customer support, and what help do they offer if you need it? There is a market for these types of sites, you just have to weigh price vs service. Local print shops and design agencies can provide a better value for you than just a cheap price. Has online printing companies hurt local print shops?

Will sites like fiverr and 99designs hurt the local graphic design or ad agency companies? More than likely, no. A freelance designer may struggle a bit, but their struggles won't come from clients choosing these sites over their work. And ad agencies won't see any kind of decline, because of their clientele.

Should you use these sites?
Let's compare it to cars. You could buy a used car from an individual at a low price and rely on their word about the condition of the car, or you could buy a brand new car like a BMW. The brand new BMW you know is going to be reliable, comfortable, and ready to roll out of the shop, whereas the used car looks good but may have something wrong with it under the hood. If you get art from an ad agency that charges higher prices because they know what they are doing, that artwork will be ready to use as you need it. Pick a designer from fiverr or use a crowdsourcing site like 99designs and your art may or may not be what you need, causing you to spend more money to have it fixed.

Try Local
Instead of spending your time looking through these sites and risking your money, contact a local designer or ad agency to see how they can help. How to find local graphic designers? If you have a small project with a limited budget, consider posting an ad on your local Craigslist under Creative in their Gigs section. Or use one of these trusted designers: Melinda Moeseley of M&M Designs, and Vic Shuler with Shuler Designs are just two of many talented designers in Columbia, South Carolina, who understand the printing process. Does your project need a team of creatives? Using a larger ad agency, like the Adams Group, can help you get the most out of your marketing budget.

Our Response as a Print Shop
As a printing company, we depend on our customers to provide us with files that are ready to be printed. If you use a reputable graphic designer or agency, who are familiar with offset printing, then you will receive support and output files that are ready to go. When we receive files that are incorrect and need adjusting, production on your project slows down or can even come to a halt. Not all designers on crowdsourcing sites are unknowledgeable in print, but there's always the chance you will get a designer who is unfamiliar. By the time you get ready to print business cards, envelopes, t-shirts and other products, and your logo is an RGB jpg, you're going to have to pay someone else to fix it, costing you more money in the long run.

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