In the past, you would need to find a contract creative designer that hopefully would work cheaply. But today you have some other really good options.
Let’s say you need a logo, or a website design, powerpoint template, etc. As a buyer you simply post a project, timeframe, and name a price you are willing to pay. Then the clock starts ticking, eBay style. By default you would allow a week for submissions. Along the way you would rate and comment on those submissions, until you find the perfect one. At the end of the week, you award the project to the best submission. Sound simple?
Spec work isn’t without it’s critics. Some would say that doing work this way commoditizes the efforts of designers. This may be true, as you can get really good logo designs for less than $400. But the benefits for the buyer are many, including lots of choice and different perspectives. Typically a contract creative designer might give you four or five choices if you are lucky, and that’s just from one creative person. With 99designs or crowdSPRING you could easily have more than 100 choices from two dozen creatives.
The market will decide if there is a place for these types of companies, but so far the answer seems to be a resounding yes. For small businesses, this is an excellent new way to tackle what was once a difficult obstacle – creative help in branding your business.