Design Team Tips

I wanted to do a quick post regarding Design Teams, I don't claim to be an expert, however I am on some fab Design Teams and also run my own, so I have seen from both sides the pros and cons of them and seen the mistakes that happen over and over again (on both sides). As my current Design Team call comes to an end, I wanted to take this time out to try and help anyone on the fence about applying or anyone who maybe hasn't been brave enough, or hasn't got round to, sending their application in yet! Even if it isn't my team you want to be a part of, I hope my tips will help you with the one you'd love to be on.

When you apply for a Design Team, don't send a 'Round Robin' type email to lots of Design Teams - the last thing anyone wants to be is one of many! (as a brand owner I want to feel that you specifically want to be on MY Design Team and not just whatever comes along first) Tailor your application to each Design Team, tell the person what you love about their products, show them that you have some knowledge of their brand, look at their designs, and tell them what your strengths are and why they need you on their team. If you have any work with their products, even better! send them over and show them what you can do.

Don't apply for a Design Team unless you LOVE the products, the designs and the work of that team - I know its very tempting to just get on any design team just to get noticed, but it really won't do you any good in the long term. If you don't LOVE the products it will show in your work, and if you work for someone who clashes with a DT you DO want to be on you could risk not being offered a place on the one you really want. Also, other DT's may think you're too over committed and not offer you a place based on that. Remember also, when on a DT you mostly get paid in product, is a few hours of your time worth some product that you don't really want that much? probably not!

Remember being on a Design Team is hard work, you are representing that brand and as such you will be expected to make great samples, blog about them and maybe even post tutorials / videos and posts on forums and galleries. You may also be required to take part in challenges and blog hops and leave comments for the rest of your team and other entries - its at least a few hours a week and your responsibility to your own work (you don't want halfhearted pieces on your blog!) and to your team shouldnt be taken lightly - the relationships you form with your team could help you going forward as you don't know what positions they will move on to. if you impress people and they get on to other teams or work for companies and magazines they may well recommend you - you'll be surprised how far your reputation spreads (good or bad!) so protect it.

Make sure not to over commit yourself, it can be hard to turn people away but sometimes you have to do it. Be honest with yourself how many free hours you have per week and how many you want to dedicate to DT work, some people work best on just one others can juggle lots, but be realistic. It's harder to leave a team than to say no in the first place (also, you may be denying someone a place that could really do it!) If its a brand you love but you don't have the time, maybe try emailing for  a guest designer position or offer to do a magazine project for them, you will still get the recognition from the brand you love without being over committed.

Don't change your style - it can be frustrating getting refused for teams, but be true to yourself and don't copy others, your style needs to stand out, I can tell each one of my DT girls projects from another, because each one of them is unique and does something different with the same product. Don't be afraid to be different, as a brand owner, I look for people to be versatile and show the MANY uses for a product, having 10 people make the same thing would be of no use to me.

Do what the DT call says - sounds obvious but you will be surprised at how many people pay absolutely no attention to what you've asked for, if it asks for 3 projects, send 3 projects (simple, right?) I've had some with 20 attachments that completely block up my server which is so frustrating when you are getting 20 or 30 a day! if there are additional projects you are particularly proud of then attach your best 3 and link to the others on your blog or gallery.

Think of the other side - its great to be on a DT, to have your work recognised, to be part of a team, to get free products BUT remember there are two sides to everything, in return you are expected to be an ambassador of that brand or product, to use it in the best possible way, some teams don't like you to use competing products for example - would you be happy with that? You will most likely be expected to have a good looking and regularly updated blog with clear pictures of your work and to participate in social media, whether that be forums, galleries, twitter or facebook. Factor this all in to your available time and make sure you are clear on the expectations before you accept a position. Its so much fun to work for and represent a brand you love but its frustrating and can stifle your creativity if you work for one you only like a bit.

Don't be frustrated with rejection, the hardest one of all! Look realistically at your work, compare it to who got accepted, see if you have any weaknesses (not in style but in quality), be honest with yourself and if necessary improve for next year, it may be nothing wrong with your work at all but just that there weren't enough places or that you were too similar to someone else. Don't be disheartened, everyone gets rejected sometimes, have a little cry, dust yourself down and try again! If you produce great projects that you love and are proud of, others will soon start to notice your talents!

I hope thats helped a little bit and given you something to think about.  For more information on Design Teams and some mroe in-depth tips and things to think about check out Julie's fab 'Tips for the DT Curious' here - especially great if you are thinking of joining a DT for the first time!

If you are looking for my current DT call, you have until 1st September to enter, for all the details click here.

Sarah x


  1. Great post Sarah, I've been in a few DT and totally empathise where you're coming from and your tips are great ! :) I've plus oned your post, facebooked and twittered it ! :) (There's also DT fatigue which happens after six months ... wink )

  2. Some very good points there Sarah. I would echo what you said about only emailing what the call asks for. Too much or too little is just going to make the company think you are not capable of following instruction. I'm doing my next dt call in a different way next time to avoid just exactly that problem. Good luck finding the right people for your team.

  3. This is some awesome advice! I've not had the guts to try out for design teams yet (well, I did one but it was within 3 months after I started scrapping...a little too ambitious at that time, because I hadn't even developed a style yet.) Now that I have I don't want to be rejected for it! lol No but really, I love the fact that you included to stay true to your style. I've been on the fence with mine because sometimes I think it may be too off the wall for some people's liking! Then I remembered why I started scrapping in the first find personal freedom in creating...personal its ok if nobody else likes it, I have fun and thats all that matters! So anyway, thanks for the great tips...not only for dt apps but also for encouraging people to stay true to themselves!

  4. Thanks for a great post. It's so hard as a company to find the right people who will compliment your product with their craft designs but also work well together in the background. I'm really lucky my DT members work really well together. They understand when I'm stressed getting new products ready for launch etc that they are my rock to keep me grounded and on target. My DT are not just crafters who create items on demand they are my friends and supporters as well. Good luck to everyone who wants to join a DT I hope you find just the right one for you.
    Anice xx

  5. Thanks for your advice. Rejection can be hard but I keep on trying and I do only try for DTs that I want to be on. It is good common sense. Best of luck deciding on a new team.

  6. This is excellent advice! I really think this should be posted on some sort of info site. Thank you for this.

  7. Wow Sarah, I found this post by bloghopping (as you do) - and thoroughly glad that I ended up here.

    Your tips are really excellent advice for anyone looking to be on a DT. I was on a DT but was ill at the time, and I underestimated just how ill I was - and the demand at the time on me, and the need to do my own personal cardmaking just became too great. It was such a relief to leave in the end and the pressure completely lifted from my shoulders.

    One thing that I find when I blog hop is the really bad use of the English language, terrible spelling and just overall badly written blog posts. I may be on my own here, but I find myself 'proof reading' posts as soon as I spot the first couple of errors. I find it really off putting. Other than that, I want to be completely inspired when I read what can be done with a product and to enjoy creating what you do is clearly evident in the project being shown.

    Thank you once again for such an interesting post.

  8. Good advice I'll keep it in mind. Also when doing my blog I'll get my (A* in english) son to proof read it as I can get carried away with my ramblings!
    Might ask one of your team for advice as well, she knows who she is,(so I'm coming after you)all input will be welcomed to help me make sure its what and who I want to be designing for, as there would be no point waisting your time or mine.
    Even if I don't apply or if I do and don't get accepted, I'll live, it will be a learning curve and I'll be ready to fight another DT battle lol.
    All the best to all who apply might see you here one day xxxx