Crowdsourcing has its benefits, especially if the effort can be a collaborative one. With DesignCrowd, though, crowdsourcing becomes competitive, but the end result is that end-users usually find the best potential output from among very capable designers. We recently learned that DesignCrowd has so far attracted about 108,000 designers, and has doubled its business in the past year.

This comes a little more than a year after DesignCrowd raised US$3 million in investment from Australian venture company Starfish Ventures. The Australian startup also launched in the Southeast Asia region in October of 2012.

The concept is fairly straightforward: design commissions are run as contests, and the client pays only for the top chosen designs. This might seem a bit unfair to designers who may have already done some preliminary work, but whose designs were not chosen. DesignCrowd founder and CEO Alec Lynch says, though, that the company has paid designers for their efforts even for non-winning entries through participation payments to the tune of US$ 1 million.

Crowdsourcing trends in design

Alec shared a few trends that industry observers might find interesting, especially given the markets that have shown promise in the Asia region, namely India, Singapore and the Philippines.

  • Top countries that crowdsource are the USA, Australia, and the UK, with strong growth in 2013 in the US and Brazil, Singapore and Germany.
  • The top 3 design types requested by volume are logo design, web design and graphic design. The fastest growth is in app design (driven by the iOS and Android boom), Facebook page design (now with 1 billion users, the best way for brands to connect with consumers), and book cover design (driven by the rise in eBook publishing).
  • Designer demand for crowdsourcing has doubled in the last 12 months – with registered designers now at 100,000 on DesignCrowd.
  • Small business demand for crowdsourcing has doubled since late 2012 and is booming in early 2013 – DesignCrowd has seen more than 50% growth in posted projects already in 2013.
  • The top designer countries by volume are the USA, India, UK, and Australia with Indonesia, the Philippines, and Pakistan the top emerging countries.

Read also: DesignCrowd heats up competition with 99designs with Asia launch

Alec highlights that there is strength in numbers. “It’s now possible for a small business to access 100,000 designers online. This is one of the reasons crowdsourcing is disrupting the traditional design industry. We now have twice as many designers on DesignCrowd than the whole of the United Kingdom.”

On app designs, these are flexible, in that designers are not limited to any particular platform, having only to focus on the raw, uncoded design.

“For example a client looking for a new app design graphical user interface, or who wants to update the look and feel of an existing app, would specify their requirements in the design brief and include the type of platform/s (iOS,  Android, MW Windows 8 or Blackberry). DesignCrowd designers would then submit uncoded design ideas to the app design contest.”

Top earners

He also says demand for crowdsourced design work comes from a mix of small businesses and bigger enterprises. To illustrate, the service has been used by Virgin, Showtime, Amnesty, and Harvard, among other brands. Also, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd used a DesignCrowd-sourced design for his t-shirts.

We reached out to Alec, and inquired about how lucrative joining DesignCrowd would be, especially with the participation payments. To illustrate, Alec highlighted designer “PB,” who has earned US$200,000 through contests. “From a £1750 earnings / month as a full time employee and working under my dull headed boss, it had zoomed up to £6000 / month on an average.”

Second top earner would be Art Samurai from the Philippines. “DesignCrowd made participation worthy by introducing participation payments – which makes about 18% of my total earnings and that is a big deal.”

Didn’t win? Don’t worry!

To further add value to the crowdsourcing service, DesignCrowd has launched BrandCrowd, which is a premium logo marketplace for designs that did not win the competitions. Interested clients can browse through these logos or designs, and designers can still monetize those that are chosen.

For designs that don’t necessarily meet the mettle of the clients, there’s still a chance. “BrandCrowd is a marketplace for ready-made brand templates, or unused designs. It provides a passive income option for freelance designers. It’s free for designers and designs are categorized by industry to help small businesses find logos and designers sell them.” Designers keep a 70% commission from designs sold from the marketplace, and users can “spring” each other’s designs — equivalent of “liking” on a social netowork — to give them a boost.

Check out DesignCrowd at