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Envato Microlancer - A new type of animal or more of the same?



So everyone knows about Envato, they are everywhere and they do pretty much everything. Let's just say I wouldn't want to be the guy who has to collate all of their website analytic reports. Anyway, they have just expanded their collection of website to include a new marketplace called Microlancer. Quite simply it's a new marketplace built for professionals to sell their work, it seems to follow a similar formula to People Per Hour whereby service providers are asked to give a price and time to a specific task, like creating a web button or something.
As a fan of Envato I know that they are a highly reputable organisation and their content is usually of very high quality. In the past I've followed a lot of their tutorials and welcomed their expansions into new territories like game development. I love how they are bringing education, freely, to the masses in a simple and effective way. Sure they've got a premium service, it's a business. The thing is, their premium service is in fact very good and their content would probably be more advanced than that of most other educational institutions that teach design, for a fraction of the price.
Okay, okay, you get it, I like Envato. So the thing is, I hate how these type of service marketplaces operate. It damages the industry as a whole by devaluing our work. Why would someone want to pay a local designer £400 for a website when they can get something of similar quality for less than half the price, right? Many of these sites even require you to do the work before you even get paid! Can you imagine!! Now, there is an argument to be made on behalf of supply and demand whereby most industries are stilling in a transitional period going from national service supply to global supply, but I'll save that one for another post.
After a quick perusing of Envato's new website, it doesn't appear that they are going down this route, thankfully! So what then, is the difference between this marketplace and all the others? Their FAQ simply goes on to say how they are interesting in making the process as simple as possible for everyone involved, which is always good, but it doesn't really explain the fundamental differences between them and all the others. A part of me is saying that I should just trust them and go by all their previous sites, they were all good experiences so why won't this one be? But then another part of me is saying that I should just dismiss this one as yet another shackle-bound attempt at creating a new digital market and extracting money from all of those involved.
I've not yet used these digital marketplaces for any meaningful amount of time so I kind of feel like I don't really deserve to have such strong views on the subject. Though I am starting to wonder if this is the future. Once we've moved beyond the point where only risk-seekers are looking to make some money from a new market, we will end up with companies that seek to differentiate themselves from the status quo by focusing on what the users want. Once we're at that stage then perhaps these digital markets will be a real, worthwhile and viable option for designers. One thing I will say is that these sites are definitely a lot more transparent than Joe Blógs design website, which requires you to contact them before being given any real pricing information, they also do a good job of dealing with the issue that so many clients seem to have of what they are actually getting for their money.
So what do you all think, are we there yet? Are you tempted to transition from the old to the new or is this just a massive waste of time for anyone who wants a real career in graphic design?


New Member
Part of me likes the sound of this, the other part, not so much. But then again that other part of me might just be scared of embracing this?
It's a big issue with all media at the moment. Look at the whole issue with Rhythm & Hues. Outsourcing is becoming big in media and this is sort of the same thing I guess? I don't have any experience with Evanto and I could be completely off the ball, but what differentiates it from other places where a company in India bids on everything's at the lowest price? Expect with this case its more of a portfolio with the lowest price attached? If it can steer away from that sort of thing then I think it could be good? The best work for the best price.
I am clueless about these sorts of sites though. I know I likely wouldnt show my rate for a website on my own website.
One thing I do know is I don't like sites like 99Designs, I sometimes have to explain to a client why I've done something a certain way and why its effective. If a potential buyer can choose a design because OMG THAT LOOKS COOL then i suppose really I'm glad I didn't have them as a client in the first place... but it devalues everything we work for. I just hope that this doesn't end up like that I guess as it does sort of look nice?

Sean Lee-Amies

Levi said:
um.... I'd never heard of envato...
That's because you're a grumpy old man :p
I'm still undecided on such sites. I still think they are great for starting a portfolio but other than that... I don't see how you can build a career from such things. I imagine most of the clients are only there to save money... who wants to work with those kind of people all the time!?
It's interesting to see these types of digital marketplaces evolve though. Maybe one day they will cater for designers who aren't trying to compete on price?

Sean Lee-Amies

You have a point, but neither does job centre plus and you've heard of that ;)
So what does everyone rely on the most to generate their new projects, have you ever had to rely on sites such as these, and was it a good or bad experience?


Staff member
well considering the job centre is shown on the news due to the high numbers of unemployed I'd say everyone should know of the job centre lol... design is a little more specialised after all
I don't see a huge problem with the concept. It may devalue the industry slightly, but I think that Envato would at least partly appreciate that designers need a workflow etc. But saying that, 99designs was started by a group of designers I think, and look what that's done :/

Tony Hardy

Envato are great, so I hope they take this in a unique and fair way. I'm really not sure. I want to dig into this a little more tomorrow!