Design Teams 202

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

If you are going to copy and paste this for other website remember to credit me, the original author Di Hickman! I have had numerous people copy and pasting this into various forums with no credit, and some blatantly claiming the work as their own. This is highly unprofessional. Give credit where it is due with my name and I would appreciate a link back to my blog, thank you. Di


Last week we discussed Design Teams 101, the basics. Today I want to discuss the different types of team, and give you pro's and cons for each. Remember though that not all teams are created equal - just because one team has a zillion requirements doesn't mean every team does. These points are general points, and not applicable to every situation. Make sure to read the DT call carefully!

Blog teams
These are great for those who like low key, no nonsense and no frills teams. There are so many challenge blogs now and it seems more and more pop up every week. Blogs teams are in my opinion a great way to trail whether or not you are suited to a DT.

Blog teams vary such a lot, but for the most part they are not compensated, meaning you are doing the work for 'free', for the community, or for the love of the challenge. On a sliding scale of desirable teams blog teams aren't usually the most sought after, though that means it's usually easier getting on blog teams that other teams.

The upside to those that don't compensate is that usually there is no commitment to create every single week. Afterall you're doing it for fun, so the pressure is off! There are however a few blog teams that DO compensate with product, and for those there is a commitment to create projects.
Sponsor Led Teams
Sponsor teams are those like blog teams, some websites, ezines etc These teams receive products are from sponsors which means it could be ANYTHING, either your favorite manufacturer or your worst nightmare! I've been on these teams and I personally saw it as a creative push each month to use the products. I can honestly say that I've received some products that I initially thought "oh crap!" then went on to LOVE them. One of these was the SEI like Kaboom. Turned out it was GREAT for scrapbooking my DH's obsession and career in video games. Of course I also received some products that just made me sit and sit with NOTHING creative happening, which led to the old adage of "when all else fails make cards!", lol. Just something to be aware of.

Online Stores/sites Design Teams
Of course the obvious Pro is you get free stuff! Online stores can work a variety of ways, either they send out miscellaneous product they wish to promote, or you get a coupon that you can spend in the store. Usually the requirement is 3-4 projects a month, which is your work in return for the free product.

The major drawback to these teams is that there is usually a LOT of behind the scenes stuff to attend to. Almost all online stores have forums/galleries and as a DT member it's usually required that you post X number of message a week to the gallery/message board. An online store is it's own little community, where you may have to create challenges every month for the forum, and also attend crops/chats for example. If there are such requirements this can take a LOT of time out of your already busy day. Please consider ALL the requirements before applying for an online store DT. Be careful when looking over the DT details, some stores have TONS of requirements in return for $25 worth of product a month.

Caution - not all stores are reputable! Sure we like to think they are, but some stores are just not very DT friendly at all. I've got friends with tales of stores charging you shipping to mail your free stuff out, and of stores not sending items at all! Get some recommendations of good stores or ask previous DT members.

Kit Clubs Teams
These have pretty much the same pro/cons as online stores and sponsor teams, only you get a kit each month to create with. Most have the same requirements as online stores, where you post to the gallery and message board, some also have the added bonus of having to write tutorials/articles, create challenges etc. For some this comes naturally, for others this is pure hell! Kits clubs like sponsor teams may feature product that you hate, but it's your job to promote the kit to it's best advantage so you better work up some creative mojo!

Things to think about with Kit Clubs specifically: look at past kits. Do you like them? Is there a good mix of papers, embellishments, alphas? Do you have to create with the kit ONLY? Some kits require that you ONLY use the items in the kit. Can you work with that restriction?

Digital designer/stores Creative Teams
Digital consignment stores work the same way as online stores. You usually get a coupon (or sometimes free reign) for the product in the store. Again you create a set amount of projects a week, and upload to the community. Usually forum and gallery participation is also required.

Designer teams work a little differently. An individual designer can create a team to promote her products. Again either coupon based or free reign, in exchange for projects using those products. In this instance usually no message board participation is required, it's purely a creative process. However usually this means posting in 3-4 different galleries to promote the products, especially wherever the designer sells at.
Ezines Design Team
It was purely by chance that I discovered my love of writing whilst writing tutorials for an online store design team, which led to positions on Ezines.
On an ezine you'll be assigned set tasks each edition, like maybe a monthly article/tutorial to write, plus you'll have sponsor product to work with and show off to the best of your ability. In addition to this you may have to sort through submissions for articles, this isn't easy trust me! Ezines are a great way to show off your writing and creative skills, but it's not for everyone! It is a lot of work to write and article, but very rewarding! Writing the card column for Scrapstreet is what prompted this series in the first place! I saw so many submissions with missing information, poor quality images, and just basic lack of submission knowledge that I decided to write a series of articles on submissions etc. More information on that topic will be coming next month! The major reason I worked for ezines was for experience. I loved writing but needed to refine my style, and hone my skills.
It's worth noting that most ezine applications require a sample article, so if this is something you think you'd be interested in, you better get busy writing!

Product Manufacturer Design Team
I just want to say I've been very blessed in this department to be on some great teams with no problems, although I know that isn't true for everyone. This is what most design team members and/or published scrapbookers work towards. These teams are hugely popular, and as such difficult to get on. Sometimes you'll see public calls for these teams, other times they are private/low kit, other times they are handpicked. I've been fortunate to have done the public calls and been hand picked.
Usually the compensation for the manufacturer teams is you get all the product you could ever want... and then some more! lol! You also get paid compensation for work featuring the manufacturer in major magazines.
The monthly requirement varies from team to team, but 2-4 projects isn't unusual, and twice a year before CHA you'll be rushed off your feet creating projects featuring the new product.
These really are awesome positions, but like I mentioned previously only apply for the team of a manufacturer who's product you LOVE. This is stuff you are going to be creating 4 projects with a month, you better like it or you are gonna be severley uncreative and unhappy!
Magazines Design Team
The holy grail of DTs! LOL! Magazine design teams encompass everything good from the Design Teams with very little in the way of negatives. Free product, projects to create, articles to write, and you get paid too! No wonder it's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! The major thing too is that you get published in a magazine. I imagine this has it's downsides, but right now other than creating on a tight deadline I can't think of any, lol! Usually these teams are handselected so you rarely see calls for these.

Some people say there is a hierachy of DT's as to their popularity and attractiveness, I agree to a certain extent, but I also think that most people choose based on their own personal reasons. That said I've seen people apply for EVERY team going, and IMO that isn't the way to do it. You should want to be on a team because you love the product/kit/community or the challenge. I've also know people be on LOTS of DT's at once, some people can handle it, others can barely keep up with one. I've done the multiple teams myself. In Augutst 2006 I had 9 DT positions, sure 2 of those were monthly guest spots but they still required work. I honestly think that was one of the major turning points for me with Design Teams. Personally it was too many, but I knew that there were people on many more teams than that, it just wasn't for me.

Design Teams aren't for everyone, the can be the highlight of your month or the low point of your designing career. Of all the teams I've been on I've only had ONE bad experience. If you do end up having a bad experience, please try to remain professional. I speak openly about my personal experience BUT only when asked, I never publicly trashed the person. A professional demeanor is especially important IMO if you are on Manufacturer/magazine Design teams. Your actions represent the image that company is trying to represent so do you best to hold your tongue, chalk it up to experience, and move on, all the while remembering - Karma baby!

All in all I am glad of all the DT positions I've had over the last 3 years, yes even the bad one! Each one taught me a lot about myself, my designing, what my strengths and weaknesses were, and what I wanted to achieve in the future. If it weren't for design teams, my blog would be severley lacking in projects and honestly I don't know that I would have started sketching or digital designing. Design teams can push you creatively, give you a home on the internet, build a sense of design and community but most importantly they give you friends. I've been fortunate enough to work with some very talented designers and I still work with some extremely talented ladies. Each one of their friendships was made possible by this crazy world of design teams, and that alone has been worth every single layout done!

The next part in this series covers DT applications, where to find them, what to send and what to expect. As always if you have questions etc, just email me (link to left) or leave a comment!



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