Reflections on Design Team Participation

In 2012, I was on two creative teams and two years later, seems like long enough to reflect on the experience.

I was excited and honored to be asked to join Ella Publishing’s Take Twelve team. Prior to the Ella call, I had never submitted a layout for publication or consideration for a design or creative team. I have never been interested in creating layouts in exchange for product. Partly, this is because I want to scrapbook with whatever I want and however I want. Partly this is sheer laziness. The thought of keeping track of products used on a layout and then providing links to the product just seems tedious unless you are able to generate worthwhile revenue for doing this.

The parameters for the Take Twelve team were simple enough. Take twelve photos on the twelfth of every month, create a layout with those photos, and share it on your site. I usually remembered to take my photos, but getting the photos printed was a challenge. I only have one photo printer in my town and they have a $5 minimum to order prints online for in store printing. It was a huge pain to get my photos quickly enough to meet my deadlines. I now own a photo printer so this challenge would not be an issue for me anymore.

One major drawback of participating on this particular team was that it structured what I was going to scrapbook. I don’t have time to scrapbook everyday (and no I can’t make time because I have other priorities besides memory keeping). At best, I scrapbook once each week on a weekend day. My scrapbooking time was reprioritized to focus on making sure my Take Twelve layout was complete rather than focusing on the stories that mattered the most to me. While I ended up with layouts I otherwise would not have completed (and I am glad I have those layouts), it changed my scrapbooking focus. I’m not comfortable rearranging my scrapbooking focus to meet other people’s and company’s needs.

Another challenge I faced was that of repetition. Ella Publishing had a great e-book with ideas for what to photograph each month and with examples of different layouts, which helped, but I still felt a bit burned out on the theme by the end of the year. I would prefer doing these “day in the life” style layouts less frequently. I find tremendous value in doing them, but they have to be less frequent than monthly.

Through Ella Publishing, I was compensated with an occasional free e-book and the occasional free class from Big Picture Classes.

I was also invited to be a guest designer at Sketches: Creatively Yours in February 2012. In this scenario, I was given templates to use for my own layouts. I was happy to try this out because I rarely use templates when I scrapbook. I normally just lay my photos out and move them around until everything looks good (enough). My committment was for four layouts over the course of one month. I was not compensated in any way. This commitment provided both a challenge to me (using sketches), but also a short-time commitment (one-month).

Because I was on two creative teams for part of 2012, there were at least two of my scrapbooking sessions where I did nothing but make layouts to meet the needs of other people and companies. For this reason, if I were to be invited to be on a creative team in the future, I have to really think about the time commitment. Am I willing to exchange my creative time to meet the needs of someone else? For this reason, compensation is important. In my case, my compensation was limited to e-product (and exposure). For this reason, people should really think long and hard before joining a creative team. Consider these questions:

  1. Will you be compensated?
  2. How will you be compensated?
  3. Does this compensation fairly cover the value of your time, knowledge, and skills?
  4. What are your short-term goals with your creative team commitment?
  5. What are your longer-term goals with your creative team commitment?
  6. Is your goal to convert your design team exposure into something more? What is your plan for making this happen?
  7. Might your time be better spent building your own brand rather than promoting someone else’s brand?
  8. Are you prepared to fulfill your commitment even if you are burnt out on the company, product, and hobby?
  9. What is your exit strategy? If you decide to leave your commitment early, how will you go about doing this?

Remember, that you are selected for a creative team because someone believes that

  • Your style fits their brand image.
  • You can consistently cheerlead for their product.
  • You will meet their deadlines.

 Can you do this? More importantly, do you want to do this?


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  • Elaine

    So true! Thanks for sharing!