A summary of what to do:
- Read the designers guidelines
- Read carefully the brief
- Be always fair and honest
- Choose contests which are suitable for you
- Don’t enter a contest if you haven’t a good idea
- Choose contests with a guaranteed prize
- Choose the featured contests with comments and ranking
- Partecipate contests with few submissions
- Join those where top ranked designs don’t look so good
- Develop your own concepts
- Don’t copy other designs
- Think out of the box
- Don’t open too many disputes and, if it’s possible, contact the other designer before
- Beware of client who changes the rank frequently
- Don’t get stuck in one contest (even if you fall from the top)
- A great concept is nothing if design isn’t appealing
- A fine design has usually very good chances even if it’s banal
- Stay away from the blind contest if you are a novice
- Watch the deadline before deciding
- Public contests are better to make your portfolio
Even if vectorial files aren’t always required, I think it’s better having a little knowledge of a software for vectorial graphic: it will allow you participating more contest, it’s easier to design, if you know how, and you’ll save a lot of time if some client needs a bigger format of your drawing. Logos must be vectors, but I saw people just asking for .psd files or hi-res .jpeg. When they’ll need to print it on t-shirt or they’ll need it on a very big banner, surely they’ll contact you and you can choose to make it again or loose the client.
A good training for vector working is joining istockphoto as illustrator. Probably you won’t become rich with that but their strict judge on your works will tell you if you are on the right way. I saw many designers banned from communities for the poor quality of their works, I don’t think it’s nice.
After winning a contest, always give your email to the contest holder, maybe it will be the beginning of a long collaboration. Many times they are just looking for favors but if you gain their confidence you’ll be their reference point for graphic works.
There are a lot of sites where you can submit a generic logo for sale. If I needed a logo I surely opened a competition to have a design tailored on my company, instead of something suitable for different business. In my opinion if you drew something cool, it’s better waiting for a contest where you can adjust and submit again that design instead of putting it into a big boil with hundreds or thousands of works. Too many options get the client confused.