Bitch, Please. Outsourcing Sucks and You Should Hate it Too

wtf I was browsing the twitterverse, which is where I get most my information, and came across this doozy from my homeboy, Nick, at WTF Marketing (Nick is the co-host of Prosperity’s Kitchen, the online edutainment challenge I’m a part of). It’s all about the elephant in the room when it comes to designers: pay us what we’re worth.

If you don’t know the premise, there’s the age long defense that design contests to win a cash prize (!) AKA thinly veiled spec work is unethical and that companies should pay a designer what they’re worth from the get go.

There are popular sites like 99Designs (not worth an external link, I’m too lazy; so lazy I’d rather type a longer sentence than the URL and html code to recognize such a fine place on the web) who have built a successful company on the premise of spec. Designers clamor for a companies’ attention and respect; to get their designs picked and to become the cream of the crop for the cash reward.

There are pros and cons to this.

PRO: It can give ample playing field for students or hobbyists to improve their skills and gain confidence. But that’s just it.

Expect to get student or hobbyist work and not professional work when going through these design content mills.

Sure, you might get a bigger pool of concepts to choose from, but do you really need 50 mediocre design concepts to mud up your choices or would you rather get 3, succinct, design concepts from a professional designer that deliver dead on?

The argument against sites like 99Designs and design contests in general is that it undermines the design profession. On one hand, it’s nice to have an outlet where being a hobbyist or student just starting out levels the playing field, but on the other hand, hello standards and integrity?

Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. What ever happened to process?

It gets even uglier when we consider the outsourcing business model.

I’ve struggled with this love/hate for outsourcing because on one hand, it brings more jobs to third world countries, like the Philippines, and boosts their economy.

On the other hand, it brings more jobs to third world countries. And takes jobs away from the US.

Should I feel good about Filipinos getting more job opportunities through outsourcing or should I feel bad that skilled Americans are losing jobs?

The verdict: it’s a shit storm out there.

It’s undermining the industry and companies are learning how to be assholes (or they already were) by bartering for the cheapest quote to improve their bottom line.

In the trenches, it’s not any better for the lucky outsourcer. They have to deal with the stress of bad clients, over demanding work load, and a general lack of awareness when it comes to working together.

Trust me, I’ve been in the trenches. I’ve been around the “water cooler” (the self-employed equivalent) and it’s stress and negativity; a fate mirrored by the business model of doom.

I’ve seen India and I’ve seen the Philippines. Their web is about 5-10 years behind than actual current trends. Most designers just aren’t as skilled or know how to put strategy behind a design.

When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. That’s what one of my virtual assistant friends said.

Another developer friend I know is adamant about only working with US contractors. They’ve always got that extra nuance to make a project more effective. Code is cleaner, more beautiful, streamlined.

But beware of hiring a US team who outsources your project to the Philippines and then charges you double or even triple what they paid for. That’s called white labeling.

It’s not that the Philippines doesn’t have talent. Indeed, there are a plethora of talented creatives much better than myself. My goal is to pick the cream of the crop exceptional talent and form my team of high paid designers from the Philippines. No more $300/month. That’s bull shit. No more “On the Job training” for cheap labor that can’t get it right the 5th time.

I get it.
There will always be the other side of the industry where penny pinching is a business strategy and where people are delighted to earn $300/month. But I’m on the other end and think it’s an abusive boyfriend you want to dump but are too afraid to. It’s the reason why most third world jobs suck. Of course, they do it too.

Because everything is industry substandard.

Including that fly in my drink and cockroach in the kitchen.
(These restaurants would definitely be shut down if they were in the US)

I dream of a Philippines that will raise its prices and standards to show those shitty clients who’s boss. Because the dominant/servant model is so passé.

I dream of a Philippines that knows its integrity and isn’t willing to back down.

I dream of a Philippines that truly enters the international playing field by raising prices to fit industry standards rather than undermining and degrading industry standards.

I dream of a world where shitty clients don’t exist (ok, that’s wishful thinking, but most of them hang out at the bottom of this cesspool AKA outsourcing).

I dream of a world where artists fucking THRIVE. Because starving artists aren’t sexy.

This is the true level playing field.

NOT this $2/hr. slave wage bull shit.

NOT this “just a graphic designer” mentality.

NOT this contest.

I’ve got REAL value and talent. Not just some hobby that anyone with Photoshop can do.

So lets ALL stop being pussies (myself included). And show some little respect.

Bitch, please.

Janet Brent

Janet is a graphic/web designer for indies in the holistic and creative arts. She is passionate about working with creative world changers and showing people how to march to their own beats. You can email her at janet@byjanet.net to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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  • http://twitter.com/WTFMarketing/status/320218272689692672/ @WTFMarketing

    Bitch, Please. Outsourcing Sucks and You Should Hate it Too | Purple Panda http://t.co/oncfpNouAv by @janetbrent

  • http://www.thewordchef.com/ Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef

    See?! You CAN write about design on this blog in a passionate way. LOVE to see you standing up for what you believe in for your biz, Janet!

    • http://www.byjanet.net/purple Janet Brent

      thanks, Tea! I can see writing about this more often.

  • http://www.WTFMarketing.com/ Nick Armstrong

    Preach!

    Thank you so much for the link; you know – we talked about this on Twitter and having read your full thoughts on abusive outsourcing, I have to give you an internet high-five.

    A company is only as good as how it treats its lowest paid employee.

  • http://twitter.com/TeaSilvestre/status/320222300450471937/ Tea Silvestre (@TeaSilvestre)

    Bitch, Please. Outsourcing Sucks and You Should Hate it Too http://t.co/8oegTdYgTV via @JanetBrent

  • lucidmusing

    Ok girl, you had me at “bitch please”!!!! Pricing and outsourcing and being taken advantage of…it’s all a messy messy complicated world, isn’t it? I can empathize with your feelings from my time living in my beloved (but very difficult!) Mexico, where working full-time (and by that I mean, oh, 60 hours a week) with an MA and loads of experience equaled a whopping about $1,500/month!!! It makes me feel sick to think of so many talented, brilliant artists making due with low pay because the employer and low market prices rule. Kudos for taking a stand and getting up in the bitch’s face and being all, “YEAH YOU BITCH!” Here’s to you getting paid what you are truly worth, and three cheers to your badassness! BOOM!

    • http://www.byjanet.net/purple Janet Brent

      i bet $1,500 is a lot for Mexico. and yeah, full-time was 50 hrs where I worked in the Philippines!! But it really depends on the company I think because some did have 40 hrs.

  • http://pajamaproductivity.com Annie Sisk

    I’m with LucidMusing down there – “Bitch please!” gets me every time. Well written, and all I can add is “Up top, sister.” ::fist bump of solidarity::

  • http://www.chivonjohn.com/ Chivon John

    Love your writing style! Awesome post and great points

  • http://www.vishnusvirtues.com/ Vishnu

    Another powerful post on only the way you can say it J. I definitely see and understand the frustration that service-providers have in regards to outsourcing. You want to be paid for what you’re worth – not substandard rates. The challenge is competing with others who are wiling to cut their rates and outsources who will take less. Maybe (and the only way but also impossible online) is to stick together with other freelancers and hold the line?

    I’m also loving how you’re talking about design and professional stuff on these posts basically positioning yourself as the expert on design and freelancing (and ethical freelancing at that). You’re doing it despite your intention not to. lol or are you intentionally talking about these topics?

    • http://www.byjanet.net/purple Janet Brent

      well I guess you’ll always be competing with the ones who are willing to cut rates.. for both the client side and the designer.. but you have to think that they don’t exist because they’re not YOUR target market/ideal client. so whatever they do doesn’t concern you. i do try to be more intentional about things, but i guess i didn’t think about freelancing (though I did think design)… i’d like to talk more about freelancing as a whole!

  • http://twitter.com/JanetBrent/status/320903470301474816/ Janet Brent (@JanetBrent)

    In case you missed it: Bitch, Please. Outsourcing Sucks and You Should Hate it Too http://t.co/SVs4iCzGit

  • http://twitter.com/BAutonomy/status/321729807442378752/ Shola (@BAutonomy)

    Bitch, Please. Outsourcing Sucks and You Should Hate it Too via: @JanetBrent http://t.co/QVoYSwYvnt

  • http://culturemutt.com/ Bjorn Karlman

    Janet!! I am glad I checked in today.. that was some serious passion:) With that kind of fervor you could seriously lead an online revolutions of sorts. I think that horrible payment terms are often simply accepted because creatives (especially creatives in developing countries) feel like they don’t have the leverage to demand more. But there is no tool like the internet to develop leverage!! And the thoughts you articulated in this post already have serious support – I mean there have got to be tens of thousands of online voices (and I am obviously speaking conservatively) that would get behind a push for online justice in the form of paying designers and other creatives what they are worth. Your voice is very compelling. Keep this up!!

  • Terence

    Hi Janet, nice post. I feel your frustration…BUT I have to embrace and expand on Evelyn’s post: whatever sucky clients or cheap charlies you are encountering YOU ARE CREATING.

    I get lots of my work from Odesk (writer/copywriter/marketing maven). However, I will not work with anyone who doesn’t value my time, skills and excellent work. I make it very clear, from my initial contact that I am a professional and I charge like one — even if I live in Dumaguete.

    I truly believe the answer is in how we present ourselves. And that comes from how we perceive ourselves. Argue against a cheapskate, advantage-taking world and sure enuf, that’s what you will encounter.

    Market to and create for a client who appreciates your contributions and is willing to pay for them and you’ll attract that group and get its most respectful recommendations and introductions to like-minded other businesstrons.

    Chin up, dear woman, you’ve got great talent….just present it in the light that you hold it and NEVER engage a client who doesn’t hold you in like esteem.

    Peace, out.

    • http://www.byjanet.net/purple Janet Brent

      Hi Terence,
      Thanks very much for your input! I am totally on board with ‘law of attraction’, as cheesy as it sounds, and with what Evelyn is saying too. I have the *awareness* that I create my reality but it’s easier said than done to shift the perspective into creating what you REALLY want. I am slowly getting there but I can already see a huge improvement even from just 3 months ago!

      Are you Filipino too? I haven’t been to Dumaguete yet but have been to Bacolod City. I see your point though.. the fact that I’m even arguing/ranting or putting energy into this cheapskate world means I’m still attracting it… So good idea. I should stop thinking or writing about this now! I do feel proud that I turned down one of the ‘bad’ clients… a year ago, I wouldn’t have had the confidence or the financial position to do so. So… baby steps! I know I’m THERE!

      Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/LisDingjan/status/324705605887606784/ @LisDingjan

    Bitch, Please. Outsourcing Sucks and You Should Hate it Too via @JanetBrent http://t.co/jVh0sgEFEJ

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