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February 6, 2013

Thoughts on spec work…

It’s my birthday today. A special occasion, sure – only happens once a year. So look at me, I’m all kinds of special right now.

I think for my birthday dinner tonight, I’m going to go to Hub 51 for drinks to start the night. Next, I’ll follow that with appetizers at Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba – I love tapas! Then we’ll grab entrees at Everest… and finally: dessert at The Paris Club. Sounds like a dreamy, dreamy evening.

At the end of the evening, I will choose which course I enjoyed the most – and that’s the only one I’ll pay for. What about the other three courses you ask? Hey – thanks for your submissions, but I liked one course better than the others, so you’re not getting paid for your efforts.

Sound fair?


Because it isn’t.

This is crowdsourcing in a nutshell. This is what spec work is to a professional designer.

Think about it.


  1. As a creative consultant/copywriter, I couldn’t agree more. Spec work is pernicious and a real threat to our business (even for big agencies). I will not participate in a pitch where spec is involved. I’m sure I’ve lost business because of it, but at least I’m not giving my work away for free.

    BTW, I’m going to Le Diplomate (DC) tomorrow night (for my birthday!). Love the menus. Look forward to the food.

    • Thanks for your comment Susan! And yes, I totally agree – it is pretty ridiculous. Personally and professionally, I’m not going to work for any client that requires any form of spec work. It starts the relationship out on a bad foot, and can only get worse.

      I had a client once that used to say this about negotiations: no matter what side of the table you’re on, you want everyone to come away feeling like they got a good deal. If one person feels like they “won” the negotiation, that only means that the other person “lost” – and nothing good ever came from someone losing a negotiation. If everyone comes away happy, both sides will enjoy the working relationship.

  2. I’m so amazed at how people just don’t get it. People have asked me for designs without paying for them. Thankfully I have the strength of my convictions to say no. I don’t even THINK about a project for a deposit is paid!

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