January 21, 2009 in 5 out of 5 stars, Hiring

What is it?

crowdSPRING: A marketplace where someone in need of creative services (say, a logo or website design – most requests appear to be for logos) can post what they need, when they need it and how much they want to pay. Once posted, designers (called “creatives”) from around the world (about half in the US, half outside the US) will submit actual work – not bids or proposals – for the buyer to review. As the submissions come in, buyers are able to review, sort, rate, provide feedback and collaborate with creatives until they find the "the one." The buyer then picks the winner, and the winner gets the project payment. 


Who makes it?


Why is it the killerest?

When I first heard about this service, my hackles went up. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that crowdSPRING fills a real need. There is a market of folks who think $500 is a lot to spend on a website. In my experience, these folks are not typically well-served. I can't afford to work with them, and they can't afford to work with me. So usually they end up hiring an amateur/hobbyist and the results they get are extremely hit and miss.

crowdSPRING seeks to fill that niche. As of this posting, there are 12,181 creatives registered on crowdSPRING. In looking through the next 20 project about to close, it looks like the average number of creative submissions per project is 55. That’s 55 different options to choose from. Compare that to the handful you get if you try one of the outfits buying ads on this page.

While this can be an attractive option for budget-conscious startups, crowdSPRING are careful to protect their providers/creatives as well. Each project is started with the project fee put in escrow and awarded without exception to one of the providers if the project gets at least 25 submissions. Both parties enter into a written legal contract (provided free and customized by crowdSPRING) with the intellectual property of the provider protected, and ownership transferring only from the winning provider when the project ends. Logo projects can be no less than $150 (most end up around $300), and website designs (uncoded), no less than $400.

They also have a “Pro” service for higher end work (projects starting at $1,000) which have constructs for privacy and include NDAs.

They’ve really done a great job of laying out all the necessary elements for this to be successful for both parties. The website is easy to use, and very well done. The whole process is carefully thought out and constructed.

As startups try to take advantage of the current economic conditions to get ahead, looking seriously at crowdSPRING for early creative work is an attractive option.

What could be improved?

Hard to find anything. These guys are hitting on some incendiary topics to be sure, but they appear to be forging these waters with careful thought and respect for all parties involved. I don’t personally think they’re hurting the mid or high-end design market – most of these buyers couldn’t afford it anyway, and most designers wouldn’t want them as clients. For a vigorous back-and-forth with the community on these issues, see this discussion on the 37signals blog with one of the co-founders.

How much does it cost?

They take another 15% of the project price from the buyer. So a $300 logo job costs you $345.


Reviewed by Carson McComas

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Hi Carson,

Thanks for taking the time to check us out and really get to know us and our site. We definitely appreciate your kind words and vote of confidence in us. Know this, we are continually working to get better at listening to the community, improving our product model, and overall being cool dudes (we are currently female-less at the moment). If anyone would like to know more about us. Just hit me up on twitter @crowdSPRING or email me at [email protected].

Thanks again,

Posted by: Stuart | Jan 21, 2009 6:03:21 PM

I really love the logo created via a crowdSPRING project for my site

If you do a project with them, give lots of timely feedback to the creatives, especially on submissions that you are seriously considering. Most creatives happily re-submit modifications based on your feedback. Overall, I had a great experience and will certainly use crowdSPRING for some upcoming ventures.


Posted by: vinyl record man @ | Jan 21, 2009 11:00:50 PM

@Stuart, you guys are doing something quite interesting - I look forward to seeing how it unfolds.

@Rob, thanks for sharing your experience with crowdSPRING and for the extra tips.

Posted by: Carson McComas | Jan 21, 2009 11:16:59 PM

I LOVE what you guys are doing. I am trying to get my own venture off the ground, and I've spent the last two weeks doing nothing but calling up studios around town here in Chicago to find someone who would design a website for us. No development, just the design. I am paying for this out of my own pocket, $5k max. Now, I realize that isn't a lot, I do, but the way I was treated by these places. They are barely listening and then throw you a number, which I should pay despite the fact that I have NO idea were they would take this. I am spending each night busting my ass on my venture, but they act as if I'm some idiot, talking down to me like I'm a child in need of guidance.

If I wanted to get a interior designer or architect, wouldn't a few of them who wanted the job create a spec and allow me, the one paying, to pick the design I like best? I read all the heat you guys took on the 37signals post and man, talk about BS. They cant be bothered by people like me, but god forbid someone creates a solution that actually caters to what I need. Thanks guys, really. You've created a real solution to a real problem.

Posted by: Jorge V. | Jan 23, 2009 12:30:02 PM

Love your startup reviews. Keep it up!

Posted by: nick | Jan 23, 2009 3:43:44 PM

I say "Say no to Spec".

Posted by: A.Fruit | Jan 26, 2009 7:47:16 AM

This is perfect for the website I'm planning to build. I wouldn't have found this without the help of your blog. :) Now I can focus more on writing than looking for people to do the design I need.

Posted by: Marie | Jan 26, 2009 12:21:12 PM

Total say no to spec!!! Crowdspring is evil in my mind.

Posted by: Bill | Jan 26, 2009 2:23:17 PM

Just heard about the site. Crowdspring is evil. The Graphic Arts Guild has always been against spec work, which takes advantage of artists (steals their time) and rewards people who are too stingy to pay artists a reasonable amount for their work.
It just reinforces the belief that people have that artists enjoy their work so much that they should be glad to: do the work for nearly nothing, have so much free time (and materials) that they can 'play' all day with their art in the hopes that someone will like it (does a tin cup come with the website membership?) and I don't have a problem with a kindergarten teacher trying to learn graphic art, but she doesn't have the experience that someone who has a major, or has job experience, has in the occupation. Whole thing just ticks me off!

Posted by: Sherri | Feb 7, 2009 12:20:34 PM

CrowdSPRING is exploitative because they profit from losing designs as choice is what drives the business model.

If every designer spends 3 hours on a logo then a minimum of 75 hours went uncompensated (because they guarantee 25 submissions).

Every party wins except the designers. According to their average of 78 submissions a project, there is an average 1.28% chance of winning. But crowdSPRING and the companies posting there win every time - what does that say?

Posted by: Exploitative | Apr 18, 2009 3:39:06 PM