Last Updated on by Karl
Have you ever seen a toddler with a box of crayons? It’s fascinating to watch them pour their creativity out. But let’s be honest, no matter how hard they try, the child's not going to turn into Picasso – even if they believe they are! 🙂
And that’s my story too.
I can do everything marketing for my business, but when it comes to graphic design, let’s say I’m just as professional as a toddler.
I used to spend so much time worrying about designing logos and banners but never could launch anything good enough.
I even tried using those super-cute, super-easy do-it-yourself graphic design tools. But let’s not get into the details of that artistic fiasco. What can I say? I just don’t have the genes for it.
So long story short, I started searching for a design platform to find top-rated designers who could handle all my graphic design needs.
*Sigh of relief*
99designs has been a game-changer for me. Now I don’t spend sleepless nights worrying about finding the right designer for the job.
If you’re interested in using this platform too but aren’t quite sure if it’s the best fit for you, let me tell you my story – how 99designs became my savior.
Grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair.
Don’t have time for my story right now and just want to get to the juicy bit – no problem.
99designs is the ideal design platform for anyone who:
- lacks creativity
- needs a variety of design services. 99designs offers services for numerous design categories, including logos, websites, mobile apps, banner ads, social media pages, packaging, labels, books, magazine covers, clothing, merchandise, and much more. Moreover, it has designs suitable for countless industries.
- doesn’t have a full-time, in-house designer on their team and wants to outsource projects, possibly to a long-term design provider
- has the extra money. 99designs offers premium service, so be prepared to pay premium prices.
If this sounds a lot like you, I recommend that you give 99designs a try.
Still not sure – that’s okay.
It’s time to listen to my story.
I'll be talking about the types of projects 99designs supports, how much it costs, tips for running 99designs contests, the pros and cons of 99designs, and more.
But first, let’s get properly introduced.
What Is 99designs?
99designs is a digital graphic design company. It helps businesses find the high-quality designs they need by connecting them with freelance graphic designers.
Just so that you’re clear – 99designs does only design – all kinds of it. But it does not offer any non-design services, such as printing.
So what kind of designs can you expect to find on 99designs?
With access to more than 250,000 talented artists with excellent design skills in over 90 design areas, you’ll find top designers to complete almost all areas of graphic design work. Over 444,000 people and businesses have used 99designs to develop logos, websites, t-shirts, and billboards.
How Does It Work?
Want to create a great design?
99designs has an easy three-step design process. Here’s how it works.
1. Create A Design Brief
Clients need to tell designers what they need. A brief gives designers a general idea of what you want. It explains aspects you’re looking for and highlights any specific requirements you want in your design.
A wizard guides you through the step-by-step process of creating a design brief. You’ll need to start by selecting the category for your project. I needed a design for a new logo. To assess my style requirements, I was asked to browse several logo samples and choose the one I liked the most.
Then I was asked to provide more details about the style of the logo. Sliders helped customize the information.
Next, it was time to select a color scheme.
Lastly, I was asked to enter some basic information.
The whole process was fairly straightforward, and it hardly took me more than a few minutes to finish.
2. Connect With a Designer
How can you find a designer with the right skill set to work on your project?
99designs offers three easy routes. You can:
Browse Designers’ Profiles
This option is suitable for individuals who have a clear idea of the style their project needs.
99designs has an extensive global community of over a million graphic designers. But with the help of filters, you can easily browse through the collection and find the best designer.
You can search for designers based on the design category, industry needs, the designer’s skill level, and local language.
Once you find a designer you like, you can review their portfolios. If you like the designs they’ve uploaded, you can request quotes and negotiate the terms of your project by messaging or inviting them to work for you.
Start A Contest
A Design Contest is a competition that takes place only between designers registered on 99designs.
Commissioning a contest is ideal for individuals who want to explore different ideas, styles, and concepts. However, before you run a contest, it’s best to research ideas on your own before starting.
Starting and managing a contest is fairly easy. Once your brief is ready, all you need to do is choose a subscription package so that you designers can partake in your contest. The number of designers that participate depends upon your subscription package.
Back to my story.
When I wanted to set up a logo design contest, I had four subscription options available at different prices.
For instance, the bronze package for a logo contest allows you to receive 30 entries from entry-mid-level designers for $299. On the other hand, the platinum package will enable you to receive 60 entries from only top-level designers for $1299.
I was interested in the gold package because that would give me 50 designs from mid to top-level designers.
But no matter which package you choose, rest assured that multiple designers will submit ideas, and all you have to do is pick the favorite design. I think it's a great way to get logo concepts from numerous designers while paying for only one.
Request A 99designs Pro Consultation
If you're not quite sure what to look for in a designer or don’t have a lot of time to browse profiles or hold contests, 99designs Pro is for you.
Representatives at 99designs offer one-on-one consultation and help match you with a designer based on your needs. To help get you started, they provide exclusive onboarding services, custom privacy tools, and guide you through designer recruitment. Of course, this will cost more money.
3. Collaborate With Your Designer
By now, you’ve found the winning designer. Congratulations!
But your work is far from over. You need to provide feedback to the graphic designer who created the winning design and ask them to tweak, refine, and finalize the design. And the way to do that is to offer more feedback.
How can you give feedback to the designers?
99designs has got this aspect covered as well. It offers a variety of tools to help you communicate with designers.
You can message designers with
- Public Comments when you need to tell something to all designers participating in your contest.
- Private Comments when you need to provide more in-depth information to a single designer.
You can leave a comment directly on a specific area of the design.
Design Markup Tool
You can draw directions directly onto the design.
Give your designers a star rating to show how you feel about their ideas.
Once the design has been perfected and the designer has presented the final product, they will sign the rights over to you and send the final files.
What Types of Projects Are Supported by 99designs?
I knew you’d ask this. So sit tight.
I mentioned earlier that 99designs offers design ideas for countless industries. I won’t list all of them – that would make my story too boring.
But to give you an idea of what you’ll find, I will say that design ideas range from ‘Business & Consulting’ to ‘Wedding Services’ and everything in between.
Yep, that’s quite a lot!
But 99designs also helps you find good designers for all kinds of projects, such as:
- Logo and identity, including brand guides, business cards, stationery, etc.
- Web and app design, including Facebook covers, social media pages, banner ads, etc.
- Business and advertising, including flyers, brochures, posters, infographics, emails, signage, etc.
- Clothing and merchandise, including t-shirts, mugs, caps, etc.
- Art and illustration
- Packaging and label
- Book and magazine including book covers, magazine covers, etc.
So you can find a design for just about any design project in any industry. More importantly, 99designs offers bundles so that you can get more design aspects from the same designer.
How Much Does 99designs Actually Cost?
Let’s be honest. Good designs don’t come cheap. If you plan on saving money, then you’ll end up sacrificing design quality. Since 99designs ensures high-quality designs, you know things are going to get pricey.
Okay, so what price should you expect when holding design contests?
That depends on the category you choose and the subscription package. I mentioned the price for a logo design above.
Here’s the price tag for web design.
The following is what you should expect for book cover design:
You’ll notice that as you pay more for the packages:
- the designer's skill level increases
- you receive more designs.
So if you want more submissions, you’ll have to opt for a better package, except when you subscribe to the platinum package, where the number of entries actually drops. But the tradeoff here is that you get access to top-notch designs from only top-level designers.
Besides these fixed price plans, 99designs also offers a couple of add-ons.
For instance, for an extra $79, I could bump my contest ahead of all the logo contests. And for another $59, I can make my contest private and keep the designs out of Google or any other search engine results.
Here are all the extra options 99designs proposes:
One more thing before I start the next chapter of my story – to get access to 99designs Pro services, the membership fee is $500/year.
How Long Do 99designs Contests Take?
Generally, design contests take about 7 days (4 days for the qualifying round and 3 days for the final round). But you will need a few more days to make selections and complete the handover.
So if you want an exact number on how soon you can be holding the final design, think close to 14 days.
Let’s take a closer look at the process:
This is the first stage of your contest. It starts as soon as you pay for the contest and will last 4 days, except for web design, wordpress theme design, and mobile app design, which get 6 days.
You have up to 4 days to choose up to 6 of the best designers. Once you complete this step, it becomes a guaranteed contest and you can no longer request a refund.
However, if you don’t complete this task within 4 days, your contest will be put on hold.
Once the finalists have been chosen, you have 3 days (or 5 days if it’s a website or app design contest) to work closely with them and revise the designs.
Choose The Final Winner
Once the final round is complete, you need to announce a winner within 14 days. At this time, you can also run a poll to get more opinions about the final version.
A designer can take up to 5 days to finalize design files and transfer design copyrights to you.
Tips for Running 99designs Contests
Want some insider tips on how I was able to run a successful design contest on 99designs?
- Write a quality design brief.
Designers base their decisions on your brief. The little extra effort you put into this aspect can help attract better designers. Moreover, it’ll help them understand exactly what you need and convert your design needs into a better idea.
- Create a personal profile.
Just like you’re hunting for a good designer, designers are on the lookout for a reliable client. A profile makes you look more professional.
- Guarantee your contest.
A guaranteed contest encourages more talented designers to participate in your contest.
- Run a blind contest.
When participants don’t see what other designers are producing, they are able to present you with a more original idea. This helps generate better contest results.
- Provide frequent feedback.
The more you interact with an individual designer in the final round, the better results you’ll receive. Remember to log into your account and view your contest during the Qualifying Round at least once a day.
- Don’t give more than 3 stars.
When the contest is live, avoid giving entries 4 or 5-star ratings early on, as this could discourage other designers from submitting ideas.
- Conduct a poll
Ask friends and colleagues to participate in the poll. Their comments on the design will allow you to gain a fresh perspective.
- You can receive custom-made designs for countless design categories.
- The platform is easy to use.
- Freelance designers can be hired through crowd-sourcing or 1-to-1 projects.
- Several pricing tiers allow businesses to stay within their budgets.
- Bundle packs are available at affordable prices.
- 100% money-back guarantee if the design doesn’t meet your requirements (only if a guaranteed prize was not set or the contest didn’t enter the Final Round).
- Collaboration tools enhance the design process.
- Safe payment options for both clients and designers.
- While 99designs is cheaper than big-name designers or digital agencies, it is considerably expensive.
- Expert designers are available only in more expensive packages such as Gold and Platinum.
- The business model of 99designs is based on the concept of crowd-sourcing, so some designers end up working for free.
It’s Time to Get Your Top-Notch Designs
99designs is more than just a platform to help you find a designer for your current design needs. It’s about meeting the right designer and building a relationship that lasts.
A designer who understands your designs needs and creates exceptional designs is a keeper. So instead of running a contest for every time you need a design, you can opt for a one-on-one project. This saves time and money down the line too.
If you’re looking for a great design for your next project, head on over to 99designs and create your design brief today.
99designs is certainly not for everyone. So to conclude my 99designs review, I’d like to give you a few other affordable options.
But I'd like to remind you that one of the reasons these contests are so powerful is because you get so many good designers working on the same project. 99designs is BY FAR the biggest platform and will yield the best results.
If you simply need a good logo design with a smaller price tag, consider DesignEvo. It’s a great DIY design software that allows users to create their own professional logo. With over 10,000 templates, you can create a customized logo design in no time at all.
But I think we should leave these 99designs alternatives for another day.