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Your views in FREE pitching in the business world

FREE pitching is used by companies (and some major corporates) to invite designers to work on a detailed brief that they provide to come up with design ideas to suit them. This is often done on a FREE basis where the chosen winner/designer will get awarded with the contract.

Within the design industry, this is looked badly upon but is becoming increasingly popular in the business world.

I would like to hear your views on free pitching.


I don't like it one little bit.

I'm normally a big fan of some spec work especially for people starting out in the industry that need to build up a quick portfolio of commercial work to get themselves established. But this Free Pitching seems a far cry from that.

I think for anyone who thinks this is OK they just need to compare this to any other trade or craft out there. 'Would you ask a plumper to fix a leak for free on the basis that you'll give him all your leaky pipe jobs from then on?'

I'd be interested to see exactly which businesses are doing this?


Active Member
I've never taken part in any free pitching for work, I know from experience in my last work with their larger clients this was seemingly becoming more and more popular. I know the local council did this with a number of their design tenders, and I guess as companies were after that contract due to the influence it could carry for future works they would participate in designing concepts for a pitch. I'm guessing it probably started with a few companies being asked, and as more and more have said yes and taken part in the process the more and more popular its becoming for those companies needing work done.

It's a real shame because if larger companies are unable to select one provider on the basis of previous work done for them or other companies, then it's going to set out an example for smaller companies to follow as the way to do business with designers and design companies.

Has anyone had any companies approach them with this as a suggestion?

I've had a couple of e-mails along these lines over the years, but have always made it very clear I'm not interested in this type of working arrangement.
Thanks, Greg


Greg said:
I'm guessing it probably started with a few companies being asked, and as more and more have said yes and taken part in the process the more and more popular its becoming for those companies needing work done.
Your right. When a handful of design businesses start doing it then companies expect everyone else to follow suit. it's sad.


Active Member
All we can do is turn the "offer" down and point people to sites like No Spec in the hope that they will appreciate that it's bad practice for the designers/design companies and can actually damage their businesses. The main problem I have seen is that the local council was choosing to put out their work tenders in this way, and it seems that whenever you have such an influential client with the quantity of design work that they commission out, you're going to get a few companies working on a speculative basis in the hope of securing that work and future work from them.


Junior Member
I don't walk into the doctor's and say "hey, check out my cold. I have been to 3 other doctors to get their opinions, but if I like your opinion better I may even PAY You to fix me!"

How silly. As professionals we need to stand our grand and help one another and one of those things is NO FREE PITCHING!

Even for beginners. They can just be cheaper or provide more for the money to reduce the risk to the client.

Freelancers, designers and newbies, don't do it, it's just bad karma.




Senior Member
I've done a few free pitches and usually its because the client is asking around for free ideas.

They usually approach sites like Freelance Switch, ask a bunch of designers to send in some work based on a brief and then manipulate all the FREE ideas.

I usually decline the brief and send in past work from my portfolio.

I figure if they can't see i am capable to create the work from my previous work, then perhaps they are not the right client for my business... but I have to say in the past I did do free pitches (about 15 years ago) and never, never, did i do well out of it.


Active Member
Don't do free pitching on a competitive basis. It's a big hamster wheel that drains valuable resource.
Don't mind doing speculative concepts on a one to one non competitive pitch basis. But don't openly encourage it. Prefer to tie them in at a creds or meeting basis.