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Six things you can do about spec work

1 Get educated

There are lots of articles about spec work and design competitions online, which will better inform you about the perils and pitfalls of taking it in on. Try the Logo Factory first.

2 Make your feelings known

Sign up to groups like AntiSpec or No!Spec, which actively campaign against doing spec work. Then tell your friends, colleagues and clients about what you’ve done and why.

3 Send a letter

No!Spec has protest letter templates that you can use to send to competition websites and clients who expect you to work on spec. Use them – but be polite and professional.

4 Fight fear, uncertainty, doubt (FUD)

You can help counter misinformation about the benefits of spec work by writing articles on your blog, Facebook, Twitter or other social media, which set out the other side of the story. You can also show your support for organisations like AntiSpec and No!Spec by using their banners and logos on your site, social media profile or even your email signature.

5 Know your (copy)rights

“Anything that takes away your copyright to a piece of work with no kind of attribution or remuneration is, frankly, bollocks,” states Matt Woods at The Partners. If you decide to do some work on spec or enter a design competition, make sure you understand what the rules are and that you retain the copyright – or are at least paid – for any work that you submit. Unfortunately, many design competitions automatically assume the rights to your work, whether you win the gig or not. Avoid.

6 Start and keep a paper trail

Before you take on any kind of design project, make sure you get a mutually agreed contract that sets out the kind of work you’re expected to do, what the payment terms are and who owns the rights to the completed work. Once the project is finished, send your client an invoice. Keep copies of all emails, letters and other contacts with your clients – you may need them for legal reasons in the event of a dispute.