As a designer in Atlanta, there is a lot of competition.
But, I still have plenty of projects and get to work with great clients! For someone who is fairly new to the area, I would consider myself incredibly blessed for the number of opportunities that have come my way since moving here.
That's not to say that I've missed out on or had to turn away projects. I can't be all things to all people, and I may not be the best fit for every client's needs.
There have even been people who first come to me, but then later find other designers (most of the time, it's a friend or relative) to complete the project, which is fine. I don't love that scenario, but it happens.
But, the competition I hate the most...
Outsourcing websites – particularly Fiverr.
(Other websites like oDesk and Elance are not as bad, and I'll explain why later on.)
As the founder of Fiverr told Yahoo in this article, "When we looked at what was out there, we realized that there were options for people that were willing to work for as little as one cent or if you are a very professional freelancer, you probably have some options. But in between, there is a huge gap."
(I want to clarify – I know that sometimes, designers can have slow periods. And, if you're a full-time freelancer, you have bills to pay and you need money. I get it. Both my husband and I have said that if we lose our job or if Jess Creatives folds, we will go deliver pizzas if we need to be able to make ends meet.
And, I will also mention that I personally have done jobs on oDesk before. But, the client was willing to pay my usual price point. Not all sourcing websites are horrible. Outsourcing design projects for your business are not a bad thing, if you are willing to pay the designer what they are WORTH.)
I know many designers, including myself, who struggle with pricing themselves appropriately. We struggle with finding balance between what we're worth, what our ideal clients can pay, and needing to pay bills. But, when Fiverr advertises logos for $5 – that's devaluing the training and expertise of a professional designer.
This ad from Fiverr above is trying to convince its audience that paying $100 (which is ridiculously cheap for a logo already) for a logo is a rip-off.
"You're Paying Too Much For Design"? No, you get what you pay for. $5 will not get you quality design work.
In the Yahoo article I mentioned previously, the founder also mentioned, "The grand vision of Fiverr is really to create a marketplace where people can start small but take this hobby and create a business out of it."
I know there are design dabblers out there, but I hardly think that charging $5 for a logo is going to make a profitable business model. Yes, the article did mention a few of the "top sellers" on Fiverr, and how one girl made $9k on Fiverr – but how much more could she have made charging what she is WORTH, and how much more would the client VALUE their new logo/videos/etc?
To clarify, it's not just about the money. If it were, I wouldn't do as many personal non-paying projects as I do. And, I could charge a heck of a lot more than I do right now. When you work with a professional designer that has training and experience, you get a lot more than just a design. When I work with my clients, I don't just ask them what colors they want, and send them a final file. I ask them about their target audience, I ask them about their goals, I provide feedback; I offer suggestions for other things they could be doing to enhance their business. (And no, it's not just things that I'm trying to up-sell them on so I can make more money.)
Think about it like this – you buy $3 sunglasses from Wal-mart, or you buy $127 pair of Oakley sunglasses.
Now, think about how you treat (carrying it in your purse, storing it in your car, etc.) each pair of those sunglasses. Think about your reaction if you accidentally sat on each pair of those sunglasses.
Now, think about WHY you bought each pair of those sunglasses (other than the fact that you are going to the beach). You bought the $3 pair because they're cheap, and it works. It does the job, and they look decent. You bought the $127 pair because they are fitted right, they have the latest integrated technologies and they look AWESOME.
Design adds value to your business. As the AIGA states on their website,
"Design is an investment in innovative thinking, positioning, branding and communication that creates value for businesses in terms of competitive advantage, customer trust and loyalty, and market share. In a rapidly changing global and local business environment, design thinking helps business counter the complexity of conditions with creative solutions. In a global economy in which production gravitates toward the lowest cost producer, human-centered design provides the competitive differentiation needed to gain market share. Design is a critical strategic asset that is most effective when employed early in corporate plans, not as a decorative finality."
Do you want a Wal-mart logo, or an Oakley logo?
There is value in design, and working with a professional designer who knows their worth. If you are a business owner, use your resources – network, barter, budget appropriately. If you're a designer, stop selling yourself short and devaluing our industry. Outsourcing websites, if used correctly, can help bring in some money during slow periods. But, designing a logo for $5 isn't doing anybody any good.
Update: To add to this conversation, hop over and take a look at Sacha Greif's blog on what exactly you might get for $5!