Now that you’ve sent off your amazing pitch, made the call, done the presentation…how do you ensure that you convert that pitch into actual work? In this lesson I want to cover spec work.
What Is It?
Spec work is where a prospective client asks you to provide a sample of the finished item/work for free to prove you can do the job.
What’s That Sound?
It’s every designer, freelancer and entrepreneur screaming at you not to do spec work! They have a very good point. You couldn’t go into an art shop and ask for a free painting but promise if you like that painting, you’d buy the collection. Doing anything for free devalues the work you do.
The Spec Conundrum
Even if the contract were juicy enough to make you think about doing something for free, that’s just the issue. When you’re not getting paid its very hard to put any real amount of time or effort into your work. If a prospective client doesn’t believe you can supply the job, that’s never a good start to a relationship in any case…. that’s if they aren’t just looking for a freebie.
What About Contests?
There are a lot of contest websites out there at the moment where only a small percentage of the people entering will get anything, and only the winning pitch will get the money. Many big brands seem to be doing this at the moment. I would say this is a good way to build up your portfolio for young/new designers with recognizable brands. I would say for anyone else should avoid them.
So They’re Just Crooks?
What I want to make clear is that NO not everyone looking for spec work is a crook. I think the freelance community is sometimes a little too quick to label a client as troublesome, when in fact if we don’t try and educate people, they won’t learn. I would suggest switching the question back on the client and seeing if they’d be willing to do the same.
Spec Or Not?
No If: You have a portfolio you can point to, they say it will be good exposure, it requires any real time or thought. 95% of the time I would say no.
Yes if: it’s a contest and you want to build up a portfolio OR if for example you are going for a year long contract, then doing a small task would be fair in much the same way you might be asked to give a presentation in the job interview process.
In terms of converting a pitch into a sale, spec work is an obstacle rather than part of the process.