Common Design Scams

by . March 7th, 2008

Any freelance designer who has been in the business for a few years has probably run into potential clients trying to get work done for free or for insanely low prices. This funny animated video comments on how some people will try to persuade designers to do work for them for free by offering them incentives such as “a footer link”, “future jobs” and “telling all their friends about you”.

View Animated Video

Other Common Scams

  • Spec Work – Create the design first and ill pay you if I like it (This is sometimes the only option for large projects for marketing agencies) but should probably be avoided for small jobs
  • Portfolio Experience – “This will be great for your portfolio!” (Unfortunately I’m starting a business, but I have no funds for design work)
  • Fake Contests – People will ask you to make an entry to a design contest, but really they are just trying to get free work done or have you do a job for them
  • Send Me the Files First – Make sure you always get a down payment before you being any project, and the rest of the balanced paid before you send over any final files.

The Root of the Problem

There’s no single reason why people attempt to take advantage of designers, but here are a few reasons that could potentially be causing some of this abuse:

1. Design is a booming profession and everyone seems to know a graphic designer.

2. Competition is fierce and many places such as classifieds are filled with hundreds of designers fighting over the same job and many designers will throw out low-ball prices as a way to land a job.

3. Programs like Photoshop are easily accessible nowadays and everyone seems to think they can design because they’ve Photoshopped a picture once or twice.

4. Businesses are outsourcing design work to places such as India and getting super cheap prices, which distorts their view of what design is really worth.

Stand Your Ground

Whatever the reasons may be, designers need to stand their ground and not subject themselves to all these scams and false opportunities being thrown their way. Be confident in your work and demand fair prices for your time just like any other respectable professional does!

Have you ever been ripped off or offered false opportunities? Tell us about it in the comments and help designers new to the business avoid running into the pitfalls many of us have experienced.


YouTheDesigner is a graphic design blog under the UCreative Network. We do features; give away brushes, icons, wallpapers, and other freebies; and bring you the latest news in the world of graphic design.