Whether you design logos, build websites, write copy or blog for a living doesn’t really matter, at some point in your freelance career it is more than likely someone will ask you to do spec work. In other words: work for free.
For those of you not familiar with the concept, picture this:
You’re a web designer and of course you are looking for work. You come across this company and they need someone to design their new website, great!
At first you think ‘hey I’m available so I’ll send ‘em my resume, hope they’ll hire me, my portfolio is killer!‘, then you read a little more on their website and they’re actually asking people to come up with ideas, concepts, and to put something together, then they will hire ‘someone‘.
The problem is you have to work but you won’t not necessarily get paid. What if you spend 10-12 hours on this and they decide to hire someone else? At the end of the day, who is going to pay your bills?
My Take On Spec Work
Honestly when someone asks me to do spec work, I just turn around and leave. Sure when you’re getting started it ain’t easy to find new clients and build a portfolio, so participating in design contests and do spec work can help. But before you accept to do spec work there are some questions you might want to ask yourself. Do you really think it’s the only way you can find work and build your portfolio? Can you really connect with the client? Does it give you enough time to brainstorm and come up with concept ideas?
Branding is not just a pretty logo. If a company or potential client is not willing to hire you based on what they saw on your portfolio, your excellent communication skills and your professionalism, you may be better off not working for them anyway.
What About You?
What do you think of spec work? Ever participated in a design contest, on SitePoint maybe? Do you do spec work? Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing? Please take a minute to share your thoughts in the comment section below. :)