Thursday, 2 June 2016

Design Team? Some pros and cons to consider.

Quite a long post today! Since my crafting mojo has gone on an extended hike I thought I'd do some writing instead. So today I'm musing the pros and cons of Design Teams. Read on for my ramblings on the subject.
Over the last ten years I've been on a few design teams. Some I've loved, some not so much, but I've learned a lot. If you are considering applying for a DT you might find some of my experiences useful (or you might not!) so I thought it was worth putting my thoughts to ‘paper’. These are purely my opinions and experiences – they may or may not tally with the experiences of others.

  • Exposure. For me the number one reason for applying is to grow my social media following and get exposure to new audiences for my work.
  • Friendship and community – I’ve made some lovely friends through DTs.
  • Free product! Sometimes lots, sometimes very little (it’s worth checking up front whether the company states the value and or frequency of your product deliveries).
  • Forces you to get in your craft room and make!
  • The opportunity to develop your crafting skills.
  • The opportunity to try new products for free.
  • Product/store discounts.
  • Links from business blogs helps build your reputation.
  • It can be a great confidence boost when you get nice feedback.

  • Sometimes commitment requirements can be excessive and end up taking masses of your time – check up front how much you will need to do and factor in ALL aspects, not just making your art.
  • You have to work to deadlines.
  • You may have to work with product you don’t like and that can zap your creativity.
  • There are likely to be costs associated with having to supplement your stash to make your DT pieces.
  • You might find yourself comparing your work to other DT members – and feeling anxious or inadequate as a result.
  • Product fatigue can set it quickly if you don’t get enough product or everything you get is very similar.
  • A poorly run DT can be a very frustrating place to be.

I've been on some fabulous DTs and the pros speak for themselves. It goes without saying that the more generous the DT the better to work for it usually is (for one you feel more ‘valued’ and for two product fatigue is much less likely). But there’s a lot more to it than that.

First off, it’s worth noting that being on a DT is work – it can be hard work at times. It’s work that (usually) you are not paid for in cash terms. For me, whether that work becomes a chore has been largely determined by the nature of the team I'm on. A supportive, nurturing team makes a HUGE difference to your levels of motivation and also to the amount of effort you want to invest.

And that’s probably the key point for me – who runs the team and how they run it makes a massive difference. More than the products you get, more than the requirements you’re expected to meet. For me, this one factor has made the most impact on whether or not I've enjoyed being on a DT.

While I don’t expect to be heaped with praise every five minutes, a supportive team where people leave one another comments and where the business for which you are creating shows a real sense of appreciation is simply a nice place to be. It encourages a happy atmosphere, it makes you feel valued for the time and effort you are giving.

I've also found lack of flexibility and overly restrictive requirements to have made DT work harder in the past. You need to feel you can take a break if you need to. You need some level of freedom to create. At the end of the day you volunteer to be on a DT – you might be paid in product, sometimes handsomely, but you are still a volunteer – there has to be give and take.

Lastly, there has to be something in it for YOU – and I don’t just mean freebies in the post. I said right at the start that building a following and reputation has been my key reason for making DT applications. It quickly gets pretty disheartening if your posts are not shared, your blog is not linked up, your makes are not pinned or (worse) not credited appropriately.

I really feel that businesses should think long and hard about creating a DT if they are not willing or able to give it the commitment it needs and take time to interact with and support the members. Businesses need to put themselves in the shoes of those they work with and need to remember that they are getting a lot from their team, not only access to their skills, but that most precious of commodities – their time.

Design Teams are not for everyone – and not everyone will fit into every Design Team. Sometimes you feel you don’t fit in or just don’t like a team and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’d never stay with a team I didn’t find supportive and constructive. There’s no shame in fulfilling your term and moving on until you find a team you truly love!

If you’re currently searching for your next team, I hope this has been useful. Good luck!

I forgot to say - I've applied for squillions of DTs and only been accepted a handful of times - don't give up and try not to take rejection personally (that is HARD!). You were probably not what they were looking for at the time - don't take it as a indication your work isn't good enough or you'll never get anywhere.

And in reply to some comments - I doubt my ability EVERY DAY but I have to keep going and hope that if I like my work someone else will too!


I’d love to know what your experiences have been – please do leave me a comment.

And if you need someone to manage your DT – don’t hesitate to ask! I am available to hire!

Katy x


  1. Very interesting. It's not something I could do myself as I am restricted by time and I think you need faith in your own ability which I am lacking. But I can imagine it's a great way to get to know people.

  2. What a unique and beautifully written post Katy...I agree totally with every point you have made!!
    Dr Sonia

  3. Really good post made very interesting reading. I have only been on one small DT which was lovely and I really enjoyed the experience. Anna is right you do need faith in your own ability..which I don't have and the other thing that scares me about asking to join teams is what we have to use and the time constraints. x

  4. Ive found that the smaller craft buisnesses apreciate you more then some of the larger companies. Also the ones that do give product on a regular basis are the ones that inspire you the most. I have made so many friends through the DTs I have been on and i can't believe how much i have grown since i first started in 2013. It has been hard work and it will continue to be but how far will it push me in the next few years? That and i now have a full craftroom.

  5. Weirdly, I've never joined a DT for the 'exposure' - I joined them because I liked the products or I stupidly thought trying something I wouldn't normally do would stretch me creatively...actually the last one just drained me and I ended up hating what I was doing.

  6. You nailed it Kathy. The team and support is the one thing that keeps one going. A lovely understanding dt coordinator or "boss" is worth gold in value. I won't trade it for gazillions of product. But yes trying new products and freebies to build your stash is pretty cool too.

  7. You nailed it Kathy. The team and support is the one thing that keeps one going. A lovely understanding dt coordinator or "boss" is worth gold in value. I won't trade it for gazillions of product. But yes trying new products and freebies to build your stash is pretty cool too.

  8. I've applied for DTs a few times and have yet to be on one. Your post is really thought-provoking and brings up some things that I wouldn't have thought of. Most importantly, WHY do I want to be on Company X's DT. Usually I apply because I really like their products and free stuff is a powerful lure. Is that enough though? I'll remember to question that in the future. Thank you!

  9. Thank you for this post Katy, this was exactly what I need to hear, bit late since I got a DT spot in my first application, feels like I was hit in the head lol. But learning everyday and getting out my comfort zone are worth the hard working.

  10. Really interesting post Katie - I just happened upon it this morning (we are on hols - yay - so more time to wander the Internet). Will re- read and absorb. Jean, CI x

  11. Pretty much spot on, the worst type is when you have Bad Management from a DT co-ordinator, they can sometimes get a bit power crazy, that can make or break a DT. Or as you say lack of product is a mojo killer. Good read. x