May 15, 2009

crowdSPRING – Creatives Compete for Your Business


crowdSPRING has labeled themselves the “marketplace for creative services”—and they certainly seem to live up to the label. Not only does crowdSPRING offer creative solutions for buyers of services, they also offer an easy way for sellers to find creative work on demand.

So how does crowdSPRING worK? It’s simple: Buyers set up an account and post their project, detailing their price, deadline, as well as other pertinent information. Projects typically include design work on websites, logos, or other marketing material. Sellers—usually designers, illustrators, and occasionally even writers and photographers—set up their own account, searching for projects within their skill-set and interests. Sellers then submit their creative ideas and the buyer ranks the work and ultimately selects his/her favorite. The advantage of this system to a buyer is the ability to scan across a large sampling of ideas to hopefully select the best of the bunch.

Critics of crowdSPRING claim that speculative work doesn’t always equal quality, can be unfair to the sellers, or, at worst, might not result in payment for the seller. crowdSPRING has implemented several techniques to combat these issues, including the requirement that all buyers escrow funds to crowdSPRING prior to the projects start. If, for instance, the buyer happens to drop the project at the last minute, crowdSPRING still awards this money to the seller. Buyers can drop a project if they feel they aren’t receiving quality work but will do so at the loss of whatever amount they’ve already forwarded to crowdSPRING. In addition, all projects are protected by a legal contract and the seller retains all rights to his or her work until the payment has been completed.

Practical Uses:

  • Get experience and potentially earn additional income by submitting your designs on crowdSpring – great for new college grads
  • Find a new logo for your lawn care business without breaking the bank for fear of limited design options
  • Get a refreshed home page design for your real estate business

Insider Tips:

  • Buyers: make sure to take advantage of the “Money back guarantee” if you don’t receive at least 25 entries
  • In addition, buyers should fill out the project description clearly, communicating needs before the projects start
  • Sellers: only bid on a project if you’re positive you’re interested and capable. Poor or incomplete work reflects poorly on your ability and may hamper chances of getting hired in the future
  • Read the entire contract prior to agreeing to it
  • Enter one of crowdSPRING’S many competitions, such as the “Design the Future” competition, where you can win up to $20,000

What we liked:

  • The guaranteed payment for the seller if his/her work is selected by the buyer
  • There’s no bidding for sellers—eliminating the problem of the lowest bidder consistently being awarded the job
  • It’s a great place for students and beginning designers to gain experience
  • Intellectual property protections
  • The required project minimum helps ensure fair compensation

What we didn’t like:

  • Buyers looking for top-notch work will likely find it time-consuming to weed through all of the entries to find what they’re looking for
  • Despite project minimums, most of the projects posted are on the lower end of the payment scale for experienced sellers


Company Info:

  • Launched: May 2008
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois
  • Founded by: Ross Kimbarovsky and Mike Samson
  • Web site:


  • Free for sellers. Buyers are charged 15% of the project price.


  1. Allison

    Another good alternative you forgot to mention is

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