Spec Work Is Gambling

Designers are among the most abused of professionals because of spec work. With design being so crucial to a client’s bottom line, speculative work is downright stupid. Clients hold contests, request pitches and “free trials” with designers where they wouldn’t with any other professional.

Spec work is a gamble for both designer and client. For the designer, working on spec is no way to make a living. It directly contradicts good business practices and does not even promise payment for work performed. If you’re a design professional, why would you not want to be paid appropriately? For the client, the graphic assets that result from spec work are poorly crafted, lack purpose and may even be “acquired” from existing designs. They’re not assets at all.

Spec work does not create the relationship between the client and designer that is necessary for effective design solutions that will serve to increase the client’s bottom line over the long term.

Clients who request speculative work don’t receive the best work and designers who engage in spec work don’t receive fair pay for their effort. Any good business relationship should be mutually beneficial to everyone involved.

If designers would cease from gambling with spec work, contests and unpaid pitches altogether, clients would stop offering it. This short and to-the-point video by Topic Simple lays things out in simple terms.

Have you worked on spec? How was it for you?
Have you requested spec work from designers? What were the results?

Alvalyn Lundgren

Alvalyn Lundgren is the founder and design director at Alvalyn Creative, an independent practice near Thousand Oaks, California. She creates visual branding, publications and books for business, entrepreneurs and authors. She is the creator of Freelance Road Trip — a business roadmap program for creative freelancers. Contact her for your visual branding, graphic and digital design needs. Join her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and subscribe to her free monthly newsletter.

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