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Readers Respond: Is Working on Spec Ever OK?

Responses: 7


From the article: Spec Work vs. Pro Bono
Working on spec is taking on a design project, doing the preliminary work (and perhaps even a finished product) without a freelance design contract, without a deposit, and with nothing more than a hope that the prospect will like the work enough to pay for it.

There are a lot of risks and a lot of opposition from the design world. But do you think there are times when it is perfectly OK to take that risk and do work on spec? Describe when and why you think it's OK.

Working on spec does not pay the rent an

I can't afford the time required doing design variations for a client who has many designers also submitting design solutions for free. My time at work is for either finding paid work or for working for pay so i can eat and pay my rent. I used to work around the clock extra hours for free or on spec thinking this would help towards a better future. I learned that if you work on your knees you Will stay working on your knees. So designers respect your profession it is a job.
—Guest guest other


i agree with aeschind. spec work is never useless. you can't deny that every moment you spend designing you learn something about yourself or the practice. but do NOT let people take advantage of your time and skills, or desire to get a good portfolio. you don't need someone to tell you to do work for free. if it's someone else's idea for you to design something, you should be paid
—Guest jc

that depends....

on several things...if your new, you want to get the word out about your work, but I wouldn't take on a project that would take a great deal of time...you always want to do your best, but I would save the intricate (the work that took a lot of blood, sweat and tears) stuff for payment, contests or perhaps for non profit...which I still do from time to time for my favorite charities.
—Guest TeriRich

Why Us?

Just try asking any other profession to work on spec -- it ain't gonna happen. Don't get burned by people who want something for nothing. If you've got the time to spare, pick a good cause and do pro bono work.
—Guest guest 2


Don't do them because they are not worth the time. People should pay for the work that is done for them the time that it takes for an artist to put things together and worked out.
—Guest cc

Working on Spec - Reject/Recycle/Reuse

I have had a few working on spec josbs declined. However, I work on the principle that nothing -- no effort -- is wasted. I have been able to use minimum, and in some cases, all of the design/layout in other projects that didn't fall through. At worst, consider a cancelled spec as creative practice.

Spec Work vs. Pro Bono

I have had success with specs & I have also wasted time doing them. If you know the client & what they've done in the past, you will have a good idea where to go. That's good. Another good thing about doing specs is exposure. If you can produce a really "WOW" spec, then I'd say go for it. But not at the expense of customers you already have, in other words, if you are at a slow point give it a try. And while you are doing it try to learn a new technique.

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