Today we’ll be covering a topic near and dear to the Spoonflower community: Design Challenges! Spoonflower’s Design Challenges encourage creativity by inviting our community to submit designs around a theme and vote on favorites to win prizes. But before we get started on sharing the benefits of Design Challenge participation, let’s cover the basics. 

How to Enter a Spoonflower Design Challenge

Review the challenges that are open for entries. 
• Review the Design Challenge rules located on each Design Challenge page.
• Create your Design Challenge entry and upload to your Spoonflower account. 
• Click the Enter a Challenge button on the left. 
• Select the correct Design Challenge from the dropdown menu under What challenge do you want to enter? 
• On the entry review page, you’ll get the chance to ensure you’re entering a design with a title and description that meets the specific challenge theme.
• Submit your entry. 

Screenshot of a page featuring a new Spoonflower design. The option to enter the design in a Design Challenge is to the left of the design.
To enter a design into a Design Challenge, select Enter a Challenge.

A screenshot of the Design Challenge entry review page, which allows artists to select a challenge to enter, check a box stating the design reflects the theme/prompt well, and type in the design's title and description. This is an example of what not to do on this page. “Challenge_RED” is typed in the design title box; the design description box is empty. This screenshot is an example of what not to do when entering a design challenge, as having a title and description showing the design is related to the theme lets our team know this design was created for this challenge.
An example of how to fill out the Design Challenge entry review page.

Once you’ve submitted your design, remember to promote your design during the voting period on your favorite social media platforms. We encourage you to invite your community to vote for your design but please note: you are not permitted to incentivize voting. 

While it’s safe to say we all love prizes, design challenges are about so much more than winning. From the exposure that comes from winner announcements to the chance to spotlight your design on a dedicated voting page, these challenges are an opportunity for growing your Spoonflower presence. If you’ve been watching from the sidelines, now’s your chance to find out how your Spoonflower shop can benefit from your participation. 

Getting Discovered During Design Challenges

If you’re new to the Spoonflower community, it can sometimes feel difficult to get discovered. During Design Challenges, your entry will be previewed amongst 600-2,000 designs during the voting process, a much smaller group of designs when compared to more than one million designs in the Marketplace. This dedicated platform gives your design a chance to shine as the Spoonflower community casts their votes. 

Have you ever noticed your Design Challenge entries have more favorites than your non-challenge designs? When voters select their picks, it’s common that they’ll also favorite (by clicking on the heart) designs that have caught their eye to purchase at a later date. Even if you don’t take home the grand prize, we’d say these extra eyes on your designs are a win! 

Entering the Design Challenges has been crucial to getting our name out there and it helps in knowing what sells based on what is in demand.”
– Jenica & Danielle, fineapple_pair

Design Challenge Pro Tip #1: As long as your design is new to the Marketplace at the time of the Design Challenge theme announcement, your entry can be made available for sale when voting is still taking place. The goal behind this is to ensure brand new designs are being created just for the challenge. No taking the easy way out! 

Design Your Way Out of A Creative Rut

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in a design rut and the inspiration just wasn’t there? We’ve probably all been there at some point. The Design Challenges are a chance to help you get your groove back. While a theme might feel out of your comfort zone or doesn’t fit within go-to design style, it allows you to get back into designing without feeling like you’re staring at a blank slate. 

“I hardly ever participated in any of the design contests. I’ve had such bad artist’s block that it was one of my resolutions this year to try to do a few to hopefully help get me out of my funk…
-Melissa Polomsky, theartwerks

Melissa's Rainbow Watercolor Animal Print entry earned her 9th place in the Animal Prints Design Challenge | Spoonflower Blog
Melissa’s entry in the Animal Prints Design Challenge placed 9th! Shop Melissa’s Rainbow Watercolor Animal Print

Always remember: the spirit of these challenges is to encourage and inspire you. We never want you to feel like you are required to participate in each challenge and if life finds you too busy it’s okay to skip out and join us later. We’ll be here when you’re ready!

Design Challenge Pro Tip #2: Get a jumpstart on your designs: new themes are announced the first Friday of every month on the Design Challenge main page.

Fill Your Shop with Trending Designs

Have you ever wondered how we choose the Design Challenge themes? As much fun as it would be to imagine the team throwing darts at a board with ideas, a lot of thought and time goes into creating themes that will inspire designers while also being on trend with the Spoonflower maker community. When we started seeing sloths becoming the new unicorn, we knew they had to have their time as a Design Challenge theme. 

“My mind is always full of ideas, it’s having the time to implement them all! The Spoonflower Design Challenges work well for me as they give me direction and accountability with a deadline.”
– Rosalind Maloney, rosalindmaroneyillustration

Design Challenge Tip #3: If you’re inspired by a Design Challenge theme, don’t stop at just one design. Creating an entire collection of coordinating designs can help small business owners mix-and-match patterns for a collection of products in their shop. Heather Dutton’s collection of floral designs featuring her Animal Print Design Challenge entry is a one-stop shop for makers.

Shine a Spotlight on Your Work 

Did you know that each Spoonflower Design Challenge is highlighted on all of our e-marketing channels? That means your design could be shown to over 500,000 community members helping drive traffic to your Spoonflower shop. Whether it’s a dedicated post on Instagram or a feature on the Spoonflower home page or in an email, there are so many opportunities for extra eyes on your Spoonflower shop and it just requires you to enter a design.   

The Benefits of Participating in Spoonflower's Weekly Design Challenges | Spoonflower Blog
Hanging Out by sarah_knight gets a spotlight on the Spoonflower Instagram feed during the Sloth Design Challenge winner announcement.

Design Challenge Pro Tip #4: Join the Design Challenge conversation on social media. Tag your photos with @spoonflower and #spoonflower on Instagram so we can see your design entry process shots!

Watch the Video on How to Enter a Design Challenge

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of participating in our Design Challenges, are you ready to enter your next (or first!) entry? Let us know what theme you’d love to see in the comments below and be sure to check out the next article in the Spoonflower Seller Handbook, where we talk about branding 101 with designer Nadia Hassan.

Looking for Help to Build Your Brand?

Spoonflower artist Nadia Hassan shares branding tips you can use to promote your work and Spoonflower shop.
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