Friday, March 27, 2009

Spec Work: The Word is Sleazy


Some recent sightings of the spec work specter.

Spotted on Monster.com: A post for a salary-plus-commission corporate Web Marketing Director. Pay tied to results.

And, for good measure, the application process involves drafting and submitting an online marketing strategy for the company. I kid you not, read for yourself:

"Web marketing specialist.​ We are looking for an experienced individual to drive business to our retail website.​ This a salary position, but terms of employment are performance based.​ Duties include: Search engine optimization, website editing, monitoring competition, creating measurable promotions.​ Ideal applicants will have experience with .​html, .​php.​, .​asp, etc.

Qualified applicants will be asked to submit a brief analysis of our site, our competition, and outline some basic ideas on how to increase traffic and business on the web."

And recently some idiot was trying to fire up the Mechanical Turk to do logo design for him on craigslist. Good luck with that.

And then, of course, there's crowdspring.com and the American Idol model for sourcing design work. (Designers "compete" by submitting designs, and the winner gets underpaid.)

And yes, I agree with Andrew Hyde that spec work is evil. And unsustainable. As in, nice try, Crowdspring guys, to aggregate and then sell access to suckers, but.... no.

Why do companies think this will work? Why would anyone labor 40/hrs per week at your headquarters doing marketing work for subsistence plus tips? Why is anyone going to sit down and do design work as part of a contest in which, if they win... woo-hoo!... they get paid?

Especially when they can do digital marketing and design work on behalf of their own online enterprise. That way, they get 100% commission on the resulting sales. The barriers to entry to enterprise are now negligible to nonexistent. Working for themselves for a deferred payout makes a lot more sense than working for you.

Companies, get real. Paying people little to nothing and/or dangling small carrots is not going to motivate them to labor on your behalf.

4 comments:

David Airey said...

Well said, Jeannette. Couldn't agree more about designers working for themselves rather than the hope of getting paid.

Anonymous said...

English is not my main language, but I could fully understand this while using google translator. Good article, have them coming! With thanks!

Jeannette Gutierrez said...

Thank you for the comments, David and A! I notice that in the 2 years since this post, the crowdsourcing model seems to have retreated to its niche in the corner, where it belongs. I also see and hear about fewer attempts by employers to extract spec work from applicants. Maybe sanity is settling in at last.

Anonymous said...

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