Chances are that if you a crafter and follow blogs, you have heard the term ‘design team’ (or DT) in a post. In the next few weeks for a weekly feature, I’ll break down exactly why some people choose to be on teams, how they get chosen, what companies are looking for and answer a whole lot of other questions along the way.
Disclaimer: I’m not an expert in this topic, but I HAVE been in this industry for over a decade. In my effort to make this series even better, I reached out to some of my favorite companies and they gave their input on this topic. We’ll have the privilege of hearing from Kryssi and Angela from Mama Elephant, Kelly Marie from Lawn Fawn, Shay from Winnie & Walter, Jen from Reverse Confetti, Michele from CAS-ual Fridays and there might be a couple other guests as well.
Today’s topics: the benefits of being on a design team and tips for applying.
For me personally, I initially wanted to be on a design team to get my name out there and promote my blog. In blog land, there are thousands of crafty blogs and quite honestly, it’ll be hard for anyone to see your blog if you’re just starting out. Being on a design team brings readers to YOUR blog and allows them to see YOUR projects, YOUR style and get to know YOU.
If you get the privilege of designing for a company, you’ll most likely get “paid” in products or credit. You’ll get to see their release before anyone else, play with the products for your design team assignments and another perk is you get to become part of a “community” within the design team. On the teams I have been on/ worked with, I have ended up making wonderful friendships that might not have happened if we hadn’t “worked” together. The community and sense of friendship on most design teams is one that can’t be described, unless you have been part of it. (Granted, I’ve heard and seen horrible experiences of design teams, but I’m talking about my experiences.)
If you end up working on a challenge design team, there’s a chance you’ll get paid in products from sponsors. This is a great way to try out new companies, expand your collection of products, in addition to providing inspiration to the participants of the challenge. Note that some challenge teams do not provide compensation, but rather allow you the platform to be seen as a designer.
I don’t want this to be a controversial series, so I won’t go into the debates of people saying it’s unfair to be paid in products. For me personally, and just about anyone else starting out, getting paid in products is a PRIVILEGE and if you don’t like the compensation that a company offers, you have the choice to gracefully decline before signing onto their team.
Truth be told, most companies and teams are looking for originality. We want you to be YOU. We don’t want someone who doesn’t have a signature style, but rather someone who has a style and they make trends/ products/ stamps work in their original style. If your style changes weekly and you aren’t original with your ideas and cards, you may need to settle into your own style before applying to a team.
There are two ways to get onto a design team…
- They host a design team call, you apply and they narrow down the choices and you make the cut!
- The company/ team does NOT have a design team call, but rather hand picks each designer. Most companies go this route for a number of reasons. They can pick their designers to fit specific styles, the following the designer has, how active the designer is in blogging/ social media, etc…or perhaps they have had the chance to work with them on a different team and know they’re a “team player”.
Okay, now let’s here some thoughts on this topic from some of the contributors….
“First and foremost…it’s fun! If it’s not fun, then don’t be on that team. It’s also a learning experience and a chance to better yourself as a designer. Of course, there’s the “free” product, too. Note that I put “free” in quotes because it really is a trade-off: products for projects.”
“Follow your favorite companies and use their products! If the companies have challenges, try to get a sense on what styles they like and watch closely on who they pick as winners. And remember to submit!
One of the most important factors is your activeness in the blogging and crafting community. When you’re active, naturally you’ll be inspired and challenged by your peers too. It will only improve your skills! Then from there, creativity and photography ranks side by side. If a project is presented poorly, it won’t grab anyone’s attention. Likewise, if a card is dull, the viewer will just keep scrolling or X out of a page. You don’t want that, so always think about the overall presentation on your work. There should be a high level of consistency in every project posted on your blog. Think of it as your resume if you are looking to land a spot on a DT. A good DT spot is also like a stepping stone. Once you get your foot in the first door, other opportunities will come easier.”
“Some teams, especially manufacturer companies, provide free products, which is always fun. All teams offer exposure by being featured on a team blog, and the chance to inspire their readers, which I find very rewarding. I think the best benefit is the camaraderie of working with lots of talented designers, and the friendships that are built.”
“Be yourself and only apply to design teams for companies or challenges you truly love and believe in because if you don’t it shows and you will begin to dislike the work.
Sharpen your skills with classes and challenges. You will learn so much and really develop your style and as you progress you will get noticed!
Also, some companies/websites build and craft design teams by invitation (we do this) rather than through design team calls and my recommendation would be to strut your stuff to the companies you love—enter their contests and challenges, follow their social media, share projects you make with their product on social media and tag, message or email them so they can see it! I assure you we pay attention and appreciate when someone is so enthusiastic about our company.”
Whew, that was a TON of info and perspective in one post. I wanted to start from the very beginning and as the weeks go on, I’ll address some of the following questions, along with many more…
Does being on a team hinder creativity? Do you mind in people are on other design teams? Does a person need design team experience? What qualities do companies look for in a designer? How do you handle rejection from a design team call?
Have a specific question you want answered? Leave it here and I’ll try to answer as many as I can in this series.
I hope you enjoyed this first installment of this series. If you are new to blogging, or want some info on how to make your blog stand out, I created a five part series last year that you may enjoy. Just click the graphic above!
I’ll see you next Monday with part 2 of this Design Teams 101 series. If you find this series help, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss any of my posts. Until next time…