Are All Spec Work Sites Evil?

Disclosure: This is a paid review, if you wish to purchase a paid review for your website (I have a 90% turn down ratio so if I turn you down don’t take it personally) contact us. All links in this post have been “nofollowed”.

Last month I was contacted by a gentleman from logomyway. He was interested in getting his site reviewed. At first I thought the idea sounded rather humorous because I knew how well a review of a site like 99designs would go over with the crowd. So I wrote back and let this guy know that I would be happy to do a review but that I could not promise it would turn out positive.

For those new to the designing game the issue of whether or not spec work is evil has been a hot topic in the last couple of years. Because of sites like the ones mentioned above designers have felt slighted. For example, if you as a designer entered a design contest on a site like the ones mentioned above you would have the opportunity to compete for a few hundred dollars. The unfortunate thing is that only one designer wins. So the business owner or person launching the contest is offering a prize and gets to see hundreds of concepts but ultimately has to choose only one winner and therefore, pay for only one concept.

So for the record, our position at is the same as it has always been. Spec work sites are not increasing the number of quality work. They are contributing to a problem that is blurring the lines between good and bad design work. If you want to see examples of the type of work we are discussing visit logomyway’s logo contest page.

Ultimately the decision to do this review was because of the a marketplace that was brought to my attention. Logomyway has introduced a new concept that allows designers to make money on their designs. It works much like a traditional e-commerce site. You can shop logos, select one, and then checkout. Then, the designer will integrate your company name into the concept. I’ve added a couple of sample designs from the marketplace below.



In a field that is as saturated as design I see the need for designers to have the ability to get their name out there. The marketplace gives designers an opportunity to put their design work on the table without everyone knowing what concepts are winning and losing. I do not, however, see this as a long term place for designers. I think that many businesses would be happy with the quality they would receive from something like this. Businesses that have a lot of brand equity will not be getting their new logo design done through a contest or marketplace. Your logo, web design, business card, etc says more about you than you think. As businesses grow they realize this. At the end of the day your brand is what you have.

I attached a video from a presentation a couple of years ago at South by Southwest Interactive. I encourage you to consider where you stand on this issue as a designer. I would like to know what the community thinks about spec work. Have any of you ever made money from one of these contest sites? Can you make a living from spec work? Share your thoughts.

Chris Stark