The last few posts I’ve written here have all come from excellent reader suggestions on this post. Today’s is no different.
Joe Malleck writes:
One topic that I’m interested in is what a designer’s future role in the marketplace is. With the uprising of theme marketplaces and the awareness that you can essentially purchase design as a commodity, where do we as designers fit into this new landscape? How can we leverage our skills and insight to make fortunes, without selling out the profession?
What an excellent question!
Joe brings up a great point. Allow me to simplify it just a tad: How can freelance designers compete with design marketplace sites? (Or, if I can put words in Joe’s mouth, if not compete, then what?)
There are both sides to the argument: some designers love marketplaces and others hate them.
First we’ll talk about both sides and then explore what you can do now and in the future to either compete with or use marketplaces to your advantage.
Why some freelancers hate design marketplace sites
It’s totally understandable.
Some freelance designers hate design marketplaces.
When clients can purchase design as a commodity instead of a customized service, they lose out on clients–at a minimum, they have to lower their prices to compete with marketplace sites.
And I agree in some instances.
It can be frustrating to find a new client who, after receiving a reasonable bid from you, comes back with a response like, “I can get a logo for $25 at logosfor25dollars.com! Why in the world would I pay you that much!?”
To designers who hate marketplaces for this reason, keep reading! (Scroll to “How to compete with marketplaces”)
Why I (and other designers) love design marketplace sites
Then there’s the completely opposite side of the coin: designers (I admit I’m one of them) who love design marketplaces.
Why do I like them?
How could I stoop so low as to support something that many designers hate?
It’s simple: it makes me money.
If you’ve been following my blog for long, you know that I believe strongly that the first responsibility you have as a freelancer is to be profitable.
(Now, don’t get me wrong–being profitable is only worth it if you’re honest, stand true to what you believe in, and don’t try to cheat or steal.)
But being profitable is the key purpose of your design business, right?
If you’re not making money, design is not a business.
It’s a hobby.
I use design marketplaces to make money from my designs.
It’s as simple as that. I work hard on a design project (a wordpress theme, let’s say) then I submit it to a marketplace and reap the benefits of a passive income stream that allows me to charge my clients less, work fewer hours, and spend more time with my family.
If you’d like to learn more about taking advantage of marketplaces as a way to grow your business, keep reading! (Scroll to “How to make money from design marketplaces”)
How to compete with design marketplaces
If you’re the kind of designer who just can’t stand to create general, multi-purpose designs, here are a few tips for competing with design marketplaces:
- Compare your services with marketplace items. Take a few hours and evaluate the quality of the design marketplaces provide. If they are superior to yours, take note and make improvements. If they are inferior, take notes and recite them to clients who are debating between you and a marketplace purchase.
- Help clients understand the advantage of custom design. When pitching to your client, take the time to help them understand why they should pay the extra money for a hand-crafted site instead of a template–or a custom logo instead of stock.
- Adjust your prices. If necessary, be a little more competitive with your prices. Now, I’m absolutely NOT saying you should sell logos for $25 or whatever, but if you consistently have trouble getting new clients because of pricing, take a step back and see where you can adjust.
- Use marketplaces to your advantage. Here’s an idea: you know how asking a client to fill out a design brief, reading over it, and then running through multiple rounds of logos can take forever? Why not use a marketplace to your advantage and ask your client to find 20 logos he likes and send them to you. Then you have a great starting point for your design. (note: this is probably only a good idea if they bring up the marketplace idea. Wouldn’t want to introduce them to it and lose the job.)
How to make money from design marketplaces
If you’re interested in making some passive income from design marketplaces, here are a few tips I’ve used:
- Take time to find out what people are looking for. If your clients are always asking for social media icons, or a certain kind of rotating slideshow, design it and/or code it.
- Look into all sorts of different marketplaces. I’ve looked all around and finally decided that I like Mojo-Themes.com the best for selling my own designs, purchasing designs, and becoming an affiliate.
- Be patient. You’re not going to make as much money upfront from your marketplace sales as you would from one client job, but if you can be patient, over time you’ll make as much or more.
Joe, did I answer your question?
I thought Joe’s question was an amazing one. I hope I answered it a little and I may explore this topic further another day.
Do you have anything you’d like to add? Leave a comment on this post!