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Harnessing Creatives Who Work on Spec Pays for Middlemen

Harnessing Creatives Who Work on Spec Pays for Middlemen
Photograph by Kim Steele/Getty Images

Before she stumbled onto online middlemen that match businesses with graphic designers a few years ago, Carol Sloan worked as a carpenter, seamstress, hotel manager, and auto mechanic, among other professions. Using her creative skills in a new field appealed to Sloan, so she started teaching herself how to use graphic design software and posting her designs to the sites.

Today, Sloan and her husband rely largely on his salary to get by and supplement their income with the $200 to $500 she makes monthly through sites like 99Designs, MycroBurst, and CrowdSPRING, doing graphic design projects on spec in the hopes that the business listing the project will choose her work and pay her for it. She notes there are typically “30 to 100 designers for every project holder” and about two of her designs are selected every month out of the dozen or more she may submit. “If I needed to do this to make a living, I would not do this,” says Sloan, who lives in Hancock, Md., and specializes in pet-oriented logos.