Relaunching NO!SPEC with 28 talking points

Welcome to the relaunch of the NO!SPEC site. And who do we have to thank for this revamp? My good friends David Airey (designer) and Jay Wickham (programmer).

From day one, Jay and David have been tireless contributors. Behind the scenes, and no matter what insane hour of the day or night, Jay is on hand to fix code and add what is needed. More in the public eye, David is a vocal advocate of an ethical design profession.

There is also a fourth teammate involved: Steve Douglas.

So when all hades breaks loose in the spec arena, it’s usually David (in Ireland), Steve (in Canada), and me (in Thailand) throwing emails at each other about our next move. And sometimes Jay (in Australia) listens to us all.

When needed, the original NO!SPEC committee come out fighting as well. Thanks all!

In order to celebrate new beginnings, I decided to share the main points of a fabulous post on spec penned by Steve Douglas, 28 talking points. To me, it’s one of those ‘I wish I’d written this’. And since I didn’t, here you go.

The 28 talking points (on working spec)

  1. It’s all about freedom of choice
  2. Designers know what they’re getting into
  3. We’re all adults here
  4. You’ll get lots of exposure
  5. Participation is voluntary so design contests aren’t exploitative
  6. Spec sites represent an ‘opportunity’ for designers
  7. Crowdsourcing sites are a way to make a living
  8. Contest sites are a way to pick up some ‘pocket change’
  9. The best designer, or design, always wins
  10. Client feedback helps you develop your skills
  11. Contest holders appreciate your efforts
  12. Stock logos and free vector art is forbidden
  13. Designers copying each other are ‘isolated incidents’
  14. Private and ‘blind’ contests protect designers’ work
  15. Win a contest. Pick up your prize
  16. Guaranteed contests also pay a designer
  17. We guarantee that a designer will get picked. And paid
  18. Spec sites ‘respect’ creatives
  19. Critics of spec work are Luddites. Or snooty.
  20. Design orgs and critical designers are like the RIAA
  21. Crowdsourcing puts you in charge of your career
  22. The democratization of design?
  23. You’ll get lots of practice
  24. You’ll build a great portfolio
  25. Crowdsourcing is ‘innovation at its best’
  26. Crowdsourcing is simply The Free Markets at work
  27. Crowdsourcing levels the playing field
  28. Participants are from all over the world

Conclusion? Curious?

It’s quite an eye-twitcher to scan down those talking points. Yes? To get the full story, stop by Steve’s 28 talking points.

And don’t forget to drop by David’s post on the NO!SPEC redesign to tell him how fabulous it is. Dave and Jay did a bang up job, for sure.

The campaign to educate the public about spec work will be a long one. I’m grateful to have good friends like Jay, David, Steve and the rest of the gang along with me.


12 responses to “Relaunching NO!SPEC with 28 talking points”

  1. Hi Guys

    It IS a fabulous redesign. Looks fantastic!

    There’ll be people who swing the other way on this, so no right/wrong, but I’m a hater of having to click the “read more” button… and often I just don’t. I’d prefer to have it all there and use the scroll. But maybe that’s just me.

    I’ll be back often for updates… love the passion and content… you’re doing great (and valuable) work here.

    =) Marc

  2. Thanks Marc. How to present posts on the homepage is a difficult call. Some sites only offer one post (nothing else). Others have a range of posts open but I’ve read that it’s not a good idea as people don’t like to scroll down too far. Most of the popular blogs I read have only one post showing full, so I followed suit.

  3. Really? You guys are still at this? What a colossal waste of time. If a designer wishes to be paid, s/he needs paying clients. If s/he wishes to work for free, then your site is a top resource for discovering where and how to do that.

  4. As a successful freelance graphic designer, I am familiar with your site and your cause. Both are a cauldron of misery. You bash designers for choosing to do spec work. You bash companies for asking for spec work. What happened to freedom of choice? What happened to mind your own business? Instead of mining for stories of negativity, why not show people how to be profitable freelancers? Or would that just be too positive?

  5. I am currently appealing a case from the trial in DC in the Court of Appeals. I am suing a crowdsourcing company that crowdsources work of ad makers. I am a sole proprietor looking for a pro bono or contingency based attorney. Let me know if someone at no-spec can help. I need one by Jan 31, 2011.

  6. I’m glad you’ve found success in your profession, Dan, but you’re mistaken about the “bashing of designers.” If you find any words here that do so, it’d be helpful if you point them out.

    This site’s about education. About helping student designers. People are free to learn, absolutely, and free to do so here. Design is a tough profession — you have 30 years of experience, you’ll know the pitfalls better than most — so to gloss over any negative stories would be pretending problems don’t exist.

    As for showing people how to be profitable, there’s no substitute for learning from your own mistakes, but surely you must agree that it’s helpful when you can learn from the mistakes of others.

  7. As David said, this site is about education. It’s about building some awareness. There are plenty of other sites that focus on helping those new to the profession to become profitable. Dan, your own workshop series comes to mind.

    I think that becoming aware of spec, and how to react to it, is just one facet of a new designer’s overall business education, albeit an important one. And, I think its especially important during these days of layoffs and scarce job opportunities. Many folks find themselves freelancing because there are no other options. Sure, they need to focus on finding experienced, profitable clients, but sometimes the dangling carrot of spec promises can be alluring. Soon, a designer finds they’re burning up a lot of time that could have been otherwise spent marketing and promoting their freelance business to profitable prospects.

    As seasoned pros, I believe we have a responsibility to newbies. By turning a blind eye toward spec we do a disservice to those just hanging out their shingle.

  8. “You bash designers for choosing to do spec work. You bash companies for asking for spec work”

    Educating designers that spec work isn’t in their best interest is hardly bashing anyone. Criticizing companies for exploiting (usually) young and experienced designers is hardly “bashing companies for asking for spec work.”

    “What happened to freedom of choice?”

    Freedom of choice is a wonderful notion Dan. It also applies to the freedom of choice about what to write about, specifically in the case of this site, spec work.

    “What happened to mind your own business?”

    It could be argues that design IS our business. And any designer certainly is allowed a voice in how that business plays out. Combine that with freedom of choice about what to write about and voila – No-Spec.

    “Instead of mining for stories of negativity, why not show people how to be profitable freelancers?”

    Well there’s that “freedom of choice” thing again. You can choose to run a blog that educates designers how to be profitable designers, No-Spec can educate designers (and businesses) about the pitfalls of spec work, and Bob as they say, is your Uncle.

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