The first design contest I ever entered was in college, for the water skiing club. I came up with a nice roundish black and white logo, silhouetting the skier with some spray coming off and having the club’s name around it. I thought it was pretty cool, but I guess the club didn’t. I never found out why. It left me sad and a little dejected – I had put effort into something I thought was very nice with very little input and no feedback or chance for revisions.
This is the problem with design contests / crowd sourcing. People put effort into their designs with the possibility that it was just a waste of their time. They likely didn’t get a chance to meet with the company or project leaders needing the logo/ tshirt/ etc. They didn’t get a feel for their business, personality, likes/dislikes. They didn’t get to present a few ideas then decide on a direction from there, given the feedback. They didn’t get to set a contract for payment.
Imagine if someone walked into a restaurant and ordered some food, didn’t pay for it, decided they didn’t like it after a couple of bites and went on down the street like this, restaurant after restaurant, til they found some food they liked. THEN they’d pay for it.
No Spec for Business provides links which provide reasons to avoid the crowd sourcing/contest driven methods of obtaining design work for next to nothing. My advice is to obtain a bid from a few professionals and work with the one that strikes you as a good communicator, who cares about your business and wants to help you within your budget. Also, no one is going to put a bid out there without wanting to know the range of your budget. If you only have $25, then go to any number of stock photo / logo web sites and buy yourself something. Just don’t expect anyone to do custom work for that price.