Want to be picked for a Design Team? Then Read This

Hey everyone! I have put together a pretty comprehensive list of the mistakes designers make when applying for design teams. Please feel free to leave your best tips and tricks for applying for design teams in the comments section.

All of the following information is my personal opinion based on reading hundreds and hundreds of design team applications & applying for design teams myself, over the past 4ish years. If you want to apply for a design team AND ACTUALLY EARN A SPOT, then this info may be useful to you. 

It’s not nice, and it is not personal: the cold hard truth is many many will apply for every design team call, and very few designers will be picked. You need every advantage you can get so I have put this article together for you to give you a little extra advantage. 
I speak genuinely & candidly here, and believe me, I have made every single mistake I have listed below when applying for design teams in the past. I have been overlooked for teams more times than I would like to admit. Don’t make the same mistakes I have made and I have seen hundreds of people make.

Now that I feel like I finally know what the heck I have doing, I wanted to share my words of DT wisdom. I have been rejected a bunch (like all designers will be, it happens), but I have also been chosen for many absolutely amazing teams. 

Even with these words of advice, you may still be overlooked for a position on a team. There are so many factors that go into the decision. Keep your chin up, and keep working on projects and applying for teams you really like.

I wrote this mostly as I went through way over 100 Applications of folks applying for the iCopic team and the SP Team.

When I read an application, here is WHAT I WANT TO SEE:

  • A Completed design team application –this one seems so obvious, but I want you to fill out the entire application and follow directions. Answer every question completely, use the correct title on your email if it asks for a certain title. If the application asks for 3 projects, then only send 3 projects.  When people send in 4 or even 5 projects, that shows they aren’t LISTENING.
    • In my mind, if the person can’t follow simple rules on the application, then they probably can’t follow my design team rules, which are a bit more complicated than answering a few questions. This is merely an attention to details type of thing. People want designers who pay attention to details. 
    • Also spelling is a big thing, use spell check.
  • GREAT photography -the projects must be clearly visible, not dark, or blurry, or too small. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your projects are, if your photos are crappy, you are not going to get chosen. If someone asked me why I didn’t pick them for my design team, 9 times out of 10 my answer will be photography. I simply cannot stress this point enough! Great photos of your projects are soooooooooo important!! See the end of this post for some photo examples.
  • Someone who is passionate – someone who’s passion shines through on their application. Sometimes this is hard to achieve because there are not very many questions. If the application itself doesn’t allow for you to show your enthusiasm, then you blog MUST show this. 
  • A great blog: A lot goes into this. I want to see a blog that is updated regularly (consistency is important), that looks nice and is easy on the eyes (no black background with white text. not a million things in the header section like a huge header, plus some grab buttons, plus the followers list all jammed into the blog before you can get to the actual blog posts. music that automatically starts might be a no no for some.). Make it look nice, don’t have a header graphic that looks like it was made using the first Nintendo graphics. There are tons and tons of free blog templates out there that look fabulous. And for an even more customized look, pay someone to design a blog JUST for you. People will notice.
  • Someone who genuinely wants to be on MY TEAM to help me promote MY PRODUCTS: Not someone who is just looking to add another design team to their resume -yep, sometimes it is pretty obvious when people are just applying for the sake of applying. I want you to tell me how much you love my products and how great you are going to be at promoting MY PRODUCTS. I want the application to be about MY COMPANY, not about the person applying for it. When I ask on an application “Why would you be a good fit for my team?” What I really want to know is “WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR MY COMPANY?”
    • For example: The following is an actual response taken from one of the SP design team applications. . . “I think I would be a good fit for SP and Company because I really like your stamps – both the quality and style of design. I would be proud to promote your products. In fact, I already post your blog hops, giveaways, and the new $5 Friday special in my crafty group anyway! I like the fresh, modern, and laid-back feel of the site. . . . I am an avid cardmaker and like to explore different styles. I try to enter online challenges as often as possible so I am used to trying to work with a certain color or colors, or a theme, or brand of paper or stamps. I really take pride in what I do and who I represent so I will always make every effort to post a professional, well-made card.”  That response tells me that the applicant took their time to get to know my company and didn’t just apply because she saw a link to any old design team call.  And this person WAS chosen for my design team because this person told me they had what it takes!!
    • Another example: Here is an actual response that I wrote, taken from one of my own personal DT applications I sent in: I would love to design for you, first and foremost, because I LOVE your stamps!! They are fresh and fun, and I love using them on my projects. I think I would be a great fit for your team because I am a team player, very organized, and craft every day. I feel like I can promote your stamps confidently as I already use and love them. With my large blog following, I think I can reach many people and be an effective design team member.” And you bet I did get chosen for the team I applied for!!
    • BE GENUINE, BE YOU and tell them how YOU can help THEM.

Other considerations:

  • Are you a Design Team Ho? Do you apply for EVERY design team call that you come across regardless of whether you actually own any products from that company? Are your answers always canned? Could you copy and paste all the same responses from one application to the next? Do you have the Design Team Call websites bookmarked and memorized? Are you on more than 5-6 design teams? 10? More?
    If you answered Yes to any of the above, then YOU, my friend, may be what I refer to as a DESIGN TEAM HO! I can only tell others that they are, because I have been one myself in the past, and have come across many a Design Team Ho in my DT experiences.
    • Obviously, if you feel you are suffering from Design Team Ho-ness, it is very important that you re-evaluate what you are doing. The teams you try out for DO notice and WON’T pick you if you come across as a Design Team Ho.
    • Look at the design team calls out there and choose carefully. If you don’t own any products by a particular company, then you probably have zero business applying to be on their design team (as a general rule. . . but if you are totally and completely experienced as a designer then this general rule might be overlooked, but this is rare).


  • Apply for every design team out there. When you apply for every design team, your application becomes generic and scripted. In reading them, I can tell who took the time to apply specifically for my design team, and who is just applying for it because it was a design team call. DON’T DO THIS!!!  What you need to do is apply for teams that you would really want to be a part of, don’t just apply for every team just to try to be on a team. DON’T BE A DESIGN TEAM HO (see above!)
    • For example: DON’T apply for the iCopic Design Team if you don’t USE COPIC MARKERS! HELLO?!?!  If you don’t use the markers, you don’t have the experience needed for the position, and it just makes you look a bit silly to apply for a team like that. And I am sure you are laughing and shaking your head, but it happens ALL THE TIME. DON’T BE THAT PERSON who applies for a position they clearly shouldn’t be applying for. You burn bridges doing things like that.
  • Answer a question on the application with anything similar to, “see my design resume here: *link*”. If I am asking you a question, I want you to tell me IN the application. I don’t want to have to go to new places, because I am already going to be looking at your blog, your online galleries, and your attached/linked projects.  When someone answers a question with a link to something else, I generally skip right over them because that tells me they are probably applying for 50 other design team calls. ***The ONLY time it is ok to link to your resume is for your PAST design teams or if the application explicitly asks for a link.
    • For Example: The application says: Please list all current and past design team experience. A GOOD Answer is: “I proud to say I am currently on the Super Troopers design team, the Sparkly design team, and the Shuffleboards team. I have been on many design teams in the past, including TurkeyTown, Bloggy Stars, and Noodle Doodles.  Please see my design resume for the complete list of my past design team experience *LINK*“. A BAD Answer is:See Design Resume *LINK*”. . . . See the difference??? One spent time, one looks kinda snooty and rushed.
  • If you are on so many design teams that you can’t list them easily IN the application, then you shouldn’t be applying for another design team! This point follows right along with the last bullet point & the Design Team Ho section above.  Yep, that is right, too many current design team positions will HURT your chances of getting on another design team. I totally look at that. If you are on 100 different teams, there is no way I want to have you on my team too. When you are on 100 teams, what it tells the person looking at your application is that you don’t really care so much about the companies, you just want free junk and want another name on your design team resume.
    • How many is too many? Well, I guess that depends on the individual looking at your application. I am going to soon be on 4 teams, plus my own, so 5. You won’t see me applying for any more than that. And 5 is majorly pushing it for my capabilities. And I do this FULL TIME. You have to think about it. Generally design teams require about a project a week (some more some less, so it is a good average to say 1 a week). That is 4 projects a month per team. When I am on 5 teams, that means I am required to make approx 20 projects per month. Now THAT is a lot of work!! How much time is going to go into those 20 projects? Well, for someone who also has a full time job and a full time family, NOT MUCH. . .I do this full time so I do have the time to dedicate to making wow projects for the companies I design for. I can EASILY spend an hour or two on a design team project. And as a designer myself, I realize that when people are applying for my team and they are already on seriously 10 teams (or more!), there are just not enough days in a month for them to really dedicate themselves to my team. I have seen this time and time again, even on my own design team: They post their SP Project, and then THE SAME DAY within hours of posting their project for my team, they post 2 more projects to their blog for their other design teams and their SP Project. Now as a company owner, why would I want to pay for products out of my own pocket, for this person just to have my project on the top of their blog for one minute? When people post like that to their blogs and every post they make is “for such and such design team” and the projects look like they were made in 5 minutes or less, it makes them look like a Design Team Ho (read “Are you a Design Team Ho” under Other Considerations above)! I know, because I have been one, LOL.
      • On the flip side, there are some truly AMAZING designers out there that deserve and have earned a bunch of design team spots and seriously design for a living. I am not talking about these truly professional designers. I am talking to you if you are like many out there who do this purely for fun and want to be on a team.

Good and Bad Photo Examples:
Like I said near the beginning of this post, 9 times out of 10, I overlook a designer based on cruddy photography. You can have gorgeous projects, but if your photos suck, you aren’t going to be picked.
Bad Photo:
Too small as shown, the photo is too dark, the project doesn’t fill the space in the photo. All around horrible photo.
Good Photo:
Good sized photo as shown, lighting is decent, the photo fills the space. The photo is clear so you can see the project. This is a good photo.
What if you STILL don’t get picked???
If you are speaking from the heart, have great photos of your projects, are choosing your potential DT positions wisely and you still aren’t getting picked. . . then my advice is to keep crafting!! Keep making projects and sharing them on your blog, in online crafting galleries, etc. You keep your own passion alive no matter if you get picked or not. Your crafting should make you happy no matter if you are picked for a team or not. 
And keep trying! Apply for your favorite teams as they have design team calls. Participate in the online happenings from your favorite companies (FB pages, contests, messageboards, leave comments on their blogs, etc. Most companies have ways to get involved). BELIEVE ME, the people in those companies making the DT decisions will take note of who’s participating.

I hope that this article is useful to you. I wish everyone out there trying out for a team the best of luck applying for teams they want to be on! Show your passion and keep on crafting!!

Shop with me anytime 24/7 at SP and Company! If you need any help, be sure to email me at scrapmastersparadise@yahoo.com. Don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter (in the sidebar)!

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14 thoughts on “Want to be picked for a Design Team? Then Read This

  1. Well now I’m going back to my DT application I just sent in to you, to make sure I did everything I could, right! LOL!!! Thanks for all of this wonderful information! 😀

  2. Great article! I’ve never been on a design team but I’ve thought it would be fun someday. I just want to make sure I can keep up with the commitments. I wouldn’t want to let a team down. When I’m ready, you’re team is definitely one I would be interested in.

  3. Hi Sam,
    I followed you from Markerpop. I enjoyed reading your article it really opened my eyes. I always thought the more design teams someone was on the better. I am not on a design team but have applied for some in the past and did not get picked, thank you for sharing your tips.

  4. Samantha, thank you for this article. It was good to hear from the “other side”. I’m not a ho (thank goodness) LOL, but I would like to know what I can do to improve my chances when I do apply, so again thanks!

  5. Okay I just read this and These are some absolutely great tips. Thank you so much for even taking the time to do this. I believe I have my fav word for a while, Design Team Ho, LOL.


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