The Economics Of Spec Work

Jeremiah Owayg wrote a post about spec work, and in a comment I asserted that spec work leads to theft.

I’m curious if I am right about this, so let’s put the numbers out there:

$3000 for a laptop (could be cheaper, but assuming a MacBook Pro, which I am typing this on)
$1700 for Creative Suite 4
$400 for fonts, $40-$80 for additional fonts

So my ‘let’s get to step 1’ costs are $5100.  I am sure you could legally go cheaper, or more expensive (my base setup was around $8000).

If I went back to my design freelancing, it would take me a month to cover all the costs.

If I did it with spec work sites, let’s see how long it would take me:

If I did 30 projects a month (a logo a day), and was able to win an unusually large percentage of them (40%), I would get $3600 for the month.  More realistically an average spec designer will see 4%-10%, or   $360-$900, taking 14 or  6 months to pay off just the hard cost, not including rent, food, etc.

If spec was an accepted practice, the going rate for design would go down, and so would the average amount a designer can pay for software and fonts.

But that won’t lead to piracy, according to the spec work zealots.

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