How to Succeed as a Creative on crowdspring

The crowdspring creatives are an amazing group. Coming from more than 170 countries, speaking hundreds of languages, covering all age groups, demographics, and religions, they've created graphics designs for companies in virtually every country of the world and in most languages spoken on Earth.

We invited a team of our top creatives to collaborate with us on this guide for crowdspring creatives. 

These are the top ten suggestions for how to succeed as a creative on crowdspring:


1. Maintain Integrity and Respect At All Times.

When you participate on crowdspring, you're part of a global community of creatives. The crowdspring staff works tirelessly to maintain professionalism and mutual respect within that community. You can help by demonstrating respect - at all times - for other creatives, for clients, and for anyone else visiting crowdspring.

Worry about what you say more than what others say about you. Using foul language or displaying a poor attitude will alienate clients and ruin your reputation on crowdspring. The way you communicate greatly affects how you're perceived by other creatives and clients.

And, how you conduct yourself reflects on crowdspring as a whole, as well as on you. Our clients are seeking professional design services from professional designers. Doing quality work and conducting yourself with courtesy and respect within the crowdspring community helps create a professional environment that will attract more clients. Maintaining professional standards of behavior makes crowdspring a more pleasant and profitable place for everyone.


2. Pay Attention to the Brief Details.

Here at crowdspring we've worked hard to help clients write strong, descriptive project briefs. Always pay attention to the wealth of information the brief provides.

Make sure you understand any special technical requirements and can provide the necessary file types.

You should also make sure you understand any culture or location-driven requirements for the project. For example, in stationery projects, if the buyer is from the Netherlands or Sweden, there are specific postal and non-postal requirements that you should know: Dutch and Swedish.

Carefully follow any specific size or shape requirements as well. This is particularly important for package graphics, vehicle wrap, or book cover projects. This information should be included with the project brief.

It frustrates clients to receive entries that do not follow the directions provided in their brief. Submitting designs that miss key elements of the brief looks amateurish and unprofessional. It's unlikely that you'll win that client back. As a general rule, you should always follow the brief. 

But, if you have a really great, unique idea that doesn't follow the brief... Submit it. And, explain why you deviated from the brief. Sharing your thought process (and how it was inspired by the information the client shared) is likely to improve a client's reception to your idea. The extra thought you put in may just win a client over.


3. Don't Skip the Research!

Good design requires research. Take the time to review the client's current website and any files they may have attached to their brief. Search for information about both the company's brand and their target audience.

Look for the following:

Age group: What is the client's audience and clientele? An audience ranging from 16-25 will likely have greatly varied tastes in design compared to those ranging from 40-65+.

Culture: Consider companies such as Amazon and Apple. Both companies boast a young, hip, and modern culture both in their employees and in their brands. Try to emulate the culture that they have already established. For example, don't propose ultra-conservative logos for hip, modern companies.

Product or service offerings:  If a buyer indicates in the brief that they are a technology company, try to learn more specifics. A logo featuring a television, when the client's business repairs stereo equipment, probably wouldn't be the best concept.

Doing a bit of extra research ensures that your design will be client-appropriate. Even better, it increases your odds of delivering a truly unique, stand-out design concept.


4. Explain Your Thought Process.

Clients are not usually designers. They may need your help to understand why you made the design choices that you did. Providing a deeper context for a design concept can favorably change the way a client views an entry.

Don't simply say "this is my entry, hope you like it." Clients appreciate it when you share why you chose a particular font, color palette, or image. This is your opportunity to show the buyer that you've thought about their project and didn't merely draw a nice picture.

This is your chance to explain how your work is unique and meaningful. It's also your chance to show the client how professional, unique and throughtful you are. Don't waste this opportunity to make a great impression on your client.

And, more often than not, if you invest a few minutes into writing a detailed description you'll be rewarded with constructive feedback from the client. Clients recognize effort and generally appreciate when someone helps them to understand the thought process behind a particular design.


5. Always Be Honest About Your Work.

Remember that reputations take a long time to build, but can quickly collapse. A professional conducts themselves professionally at all times. Always be honest about your work. And, never steal another creative's intellectual property.

If portions of your work are not your own, select the appropriate disclosure statement. If you used clip art or stock imagery, make this clear. Review these FAQs to make sure you understand crowdspring's policies on stock art, stock photography and overused design concepts.

Also, remember that this is an active community. If you've noticed an entry and liked it well enough to copy the idea, someone else has probably noticed it, too. Our team receives IP violation reports every day. It's just not worth the risk.

So don't jeopardize your hard-earned reputation – make full, fair and honest disclosures when submitting entries to projects. And never copy existing designs, other creatives' entries, or overused design concepts. It's easier (and more beneficial to you) to become a better designer than it is to rebuild a reputation.


6. Find Your Personal Work Style.

There are as many different work styles on crowdspring as there are creatives. Working in a crowdsourced project isn't the same as working with a client one-on-one. So, experiment and find the process that suits you best.

Here are some areas to consider...


Will you look at the other entries before designing?

(This is not an option in naming and tagline projects.)

When working in crowdsourced projects there are always other entries vying for the clients attention. Will you choose to ignore the masses and forge your own path? Or will you check out the competition?


Looking at the other entries can help you avoid accidentally submitting a design concept that was already submitted.

Looking at the other creatives' entries may inspire a new idea.


If you look at the other designs submitted you may be subconsciously influenced in a less original direction.


Will you try to submit early to get ahead of the pack?

Some creatives pounce on a project as soon as it opens, while others prefer to hold back and watch for a while before deciding to commit. What will you do?


If you dive in quickly early in a project, you can stake your claim to a unique concept (or concepts).

If you submit early you can spend lots of time working with the client to perfect your design.


If you submit early and don't wait to see the client's feedback stats, you may submit an entry to a project with an unresponsive client who doesn't provide feedback.

If you submit right away the client may be distracted by newer entries.


How many entries will you submit before receiving feedback from the client?

Will you submit one entry and then wait for a response... or submit three unique concepts? Maybe you'll submit one original concept and two variations. It's up to you to find the right balance. But, whatever you do, don't flood the project with too many entries. This is inconsiderate to the client and the other creatives. It's also against crowdspring's rules.


Submitting multiple concepts gives the client more to choose from and increases the chances that you'll submit an entry that catches their eye.

Clients notice creatives who submit several good concepts; they may remember you for future work.

Submitting just one concept and waiting for feedback means you invest less time and effort.


Submitting multiple concepts takes more time and effort.

Submitting just one concept reduces the odds that one of your entries will catch the client's eye.


These questions are just the tip of the iceberg. Take the time to explore what process works best for you.


7. Don't Take Things Personally.

Creatives put a lot of themselves into their work. Your designs (or names or taglines) are your brain babies. It's easy to fall in love with them or get attached. But, not everyone will see your design the way that you do. 

And, you need to remember that that's okay.

Don't take offense to low feedback scores. Remember that the best designs are a marriage of the designer's taste and the client's taste. Be grateful for the client's guidance and try a new path.

Some clients don't provide feedback at all. You could assume that this means that they don't care about your time and effort. But, it's more likely that they just don't know how the design process works. 

As you know, the design process goes both ways. If you want the client to actively participate and communicate with feedback, you must be prepared to incorporate that feedback into new revisions or try entirely new concepts.


Some things to remember about client feedback:

- Clients leave feedback to help you understand what they do or don't like about your entry - not as a personal attack.

- It may not occur to clients that it's helpful to let you know what they do like about an entry, as well as what they don't. If you want more information from them, send your client a message in your entry comments.

- Clients probably won't speak in visual terms or design language. Do your best to translate their comments into actionable revisions. If you need more clarification, send the client a message in your entry comments.


The most successful creatives on crowdspring listen to all feedback – good and bad – and use this feedback to improve their craft. 


8. Be Creative and True to Yourself.

No matter what your experience is in the field of graphic design, you have a gut instinct and an eye for design. Let your creativity and personal taste guide you in every project.

Be original at all times. Sometimes, our fear of failure can paralyze us. Fight that fear and be brave in your designs. The best designers provide clients with a variety of strong, unique choices. So don't take the safe, easy path. Instead, commit to making strong, unique design choices.

As we've previously mentioned, it's always best to take your design cues from the client's project brief. But, if you're really excited about an idea that doesn't fit the brief; submit it along with a compelling explanation of why you made that choice. Be prepared for a no, but be brave enough to give it a shot.

Crowdsourced projects succeed because clients want to see a wide variety of design styles and ideas. Being true to your design style and creativity ensures that they'll have great options to choose from and keep coming back for more. 


9. Work Ethically.

Here on crowdspring we value intellectual property. We respect and protect your intellectual property and our client's intellectual property - and we expect you to do the same. Follow these guidelines to help ensure that crowdspring reamins an ethical creative marketplace where you can rest assured that you

Only submit original work - especially in logo projects where stock art and photography is strictly prohibited.

Don't copy design concepts from other designers. It's just not cool. And you wouldn't like it if someone did it to you. 

Don't flood a project with a ton of entries trying to steal the client's focus with quantity instead of quality. By all means submit revisions if the client requests them; but then withdraw your less successful entries.

Finally, make sure to respect the project categories. In other words, don't submit a business card design and a logo design to a logo project. Only submit a logo design. Clients need to understand that any requests outside the project scope may be subject to additional fees at the discretion of the creative. If you offer additional work for free, you undermine the efforts of other creatives to receive fair pay for their work. This harms their opportunities and yours.

Respecting project categories helps keep crowdspring a level playing field for all. 

If you see another creative is violating these ethical guidelines, please submit a violation report.

And, check out our Creative Standards of Conduct here.


10. Value the Community.

While every project, much like every offline job, is a competition, do remember that crowdspring is still a community.

The other creatives on crowdspring are your coworkers. Treat them with courtesy and respect.

And, do your best to learn from the wealth of creativity and skill around you. Even professionals with decades of experience can continue to learn and improve.

Most importantly, remember that the stronger the crowdspring community is, the more successful our creatives and clients will be.



Much thanks to the following talented creatives working on crowdspring for their collaborative effort to bring this guide to you:fredKchizJabraulterOne35studios29designdrik, and intrepidguppy

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