So, the scenario goes…
You started a business a few years ago. You’ve been trying to keep the budget tight, so you do alot of things on your own. You make your own flyers, graphics, logo, website, and business cards, and you’ve never seen a problem with it. Lately, you’ve been thinking that maybe more people would respond to your marketing materials if they looked better, so you’re thinking about hiring a company like 99Designs.
Unfortunately, you don’t know much about 99Designs and you’re a little skeptical about whether they’re legit, whether you’d actually get a good finished project, and how the process goes, so you start searching online for a good 99Designs review, and you land here.
Sound a little familiar? Maybe you might know someone with a similar situation, or even you might be able to relate to my example.
As a business owner, impression is HUGE, and often times, something else will do the talking for you. People can learn about your brand before you utter a word! They look at your wardrobe, your website, your flyers and business cards, and make their determination about whether to do business with you.
What happens if your marketing materials are mediocre? What if they’re the pieced together images and text from Microsoft Word? Will they attract consumers who are more familiar a big business level of professionalism?
I don’t think so, and if you want to attract more customers, I’d recommend reconfiguring your marketing plan a little.
At some point, design becomes important to business growth. There’s a point where trying to piece things together just doesn’t impress, and if you want to continue climbing new heights in your business, you have to level up your branding and design–that’s where companies like 99Designs come in.
Design doesn’t always have to be difficult, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, which is why I’m excited to write this review for you. In this 99Designs review, I will give you:
- What it is
- How it works
- Pros and Cons
- What it does well and what it does not
- What others are saying (good and bad)
- My Recommendation
- And, Alternatives (in case you want to do some comparison shopping)
- 1 What is 99Designs? An Overview
- 2 How Does 99Designs Work?
- 3 How Do I Get Started with 99Designs?
- 4 Who is 99Designs For?
- 5 99Designs Tools & Training
- 6 99Designs Support
- 7 What Does 99Designs Do Well
- 8 What Doesn’t 99Designs Do Well
- 9 99Designs Review Roundup
- 10 99Designs Price
- 11 My Final Opinion of 99Designs
- 12 Top Alternatives
- 13 VERDICT: Recommend
- 14 ——————————————————-
- 15 99Designs
- 16 Pros
- 17 Cons
What is 99Designs? An Overview
99Designs is a global creative community of specialty artists that create designs of all sorts: logo designs, business card design, video, social media graphics, book design, and more. It was inspired by a competition that happened on Sitepoint forum between two designers that turned into a healthy but aggressive design competition. In 2008, 99Designs was founded as a design marketplace where you can go with your design requests and inspire a creative competition among designers all over the world. Since inception, 99Designs has earned their global community of artists more than $200 million!
Here’s more information on 99Designs:
How Does 99Designs Work?
99Designs is backed by a community of thousands of freelancers from all over the world. When you leave your design specifications with them, it can be either privately held (where you’d find the perfect candidate with a 99designs team member), or it is posted as a public competition. When designers see your brief, they create designs in hopes of being the “best” in your competition. You’ll get to see several mockups of your design specifications from various different artists. From those submitted, you’ll be able to choose finalists and a winner. The winner will get paid from your posted payment.
How Do I Get Started with 99Designs?
99Designs breaks down their design process into three parts that break down like this:
1. Submit Your Design Brief
2. Hire a designer or Submit your content
3. Finalize your designs
Here’s a video to explain how it works:
Who is 99Designs For?
- Those who want several design ideas to choose from
- Up and coming artists who are looking to test their skills in the marketplace
- Those who don’t mind sorting thru multiple concepts for their favorite one
- Those who need design work done periodically for business cards, flyers, album covers, book covers, and other marketing materials
- Designers who want to engage in competition to see where they stand in the industry
- Designers who are looking for another channel to bring in potential customers
99Designs Tools & Training
99Designs has a resource center with a small business startup kit, several articles to help you get the best results with their services, and advice for designers to be successful on their platform.
99Designs offers phone and email support.
What Does 99Designs Do Well
- They quickly communicate to a large group of highly talented artists to meet your design specifications
- They have affordable pricing
- They offer design services for a variety of occassions: vehicle wraps, film, flyers, etc.
What Doesn’t 99Designs Do Well
Designer complaints suggest that designers often feel that they do lots of work for little money. Designers who are looking for full-time income opportunities probably shouldn’t focus their full attention on 99Designs at this time. They may improve how they pay their designers, but right now, there’s lots of pitfalls where designers can get little or no pay.
99Designs Review Roundup
I’ve compiled this video playlist, so you can see what others’ opinions are of 99Designs: customers and designers.
Common Positive Feedback
- Some customers were very happy with the results
- They liked choosing from lots of artists
- They like having many design options
Common Negative Feedback
- Majority of the negative reviews on 99Designs comes from the designers. Some complained that they’d been banned after making it to subsequent rounds, some said they were banned without warning because they didn’t meet quality standards, many said other artists plagiarize in the contests, and many complained about being underpaid for the work they did.
- Few of the negative reviews came from customers who said they didn’t like the quality
- They wanted to cancel their contests, but were not refunded because of a fine print selection check box setting during checkout
Most Helpful Positive 99Designs Review
99 Designs was amazing
99 Designs was amazing, here you get the best bang for your buck. I would highly recommend making the contest private, some top-level designers will not apply for your job unless it is private. Lesson learned, next time I will shell out the extra $79.
Most Helpful Negative 99Designs Review
A one-star customer review from Joshua Jackson on Trustpilot said:
Quality of designs is very poor
The quality of designs is very poor. You get “over 100” submissions, but most designers submit 10 of the same design with slight adjustments, or different colors.
Submissions look like high school Photoshop class projects. I am not using any of the designs and 99Designs refuses to refund the $350. I don’t understand how 99Designs could have legitimate 5 star reviews…
A negative review from a designer on Trustpilot named Istimat that shares common complaints with many of the others:
Horrible for designers!
My designer account was suspended and I received a template e-mail which didn’t specify the concrete reason for suspension. Even tried talking to their support but I got only a copy-pasted answer.
An entry I worked hard for and got great feedback from the client was deleted without any notification.
I have not received any answer from them regarding this issue.
I do not recommend this website at all.
Edit: As you can see below, I got another copy-pasted answer. The only item in my portfolio was a contest winner, which invalidates the quality argument.
Another negative review from a designer named George Joseph:
FRANKLY i have been a designer for over…
FRANKLY i have been a designer for over two years with 99designs.com and to be really frank they were the best till today! Until i got a message from the support team saying i have been banned from the website even after serving them hundreds of designs and giving them enough profits from my side. Just because i always submitted unique designs and one fine day they get a complaint that i am a Poor designer. LOSERS!
I do have a good portfolio and I’m proud to say that because winning every week one contest is not a joke it’s been a milestone for me. How can an amateur designer win so many contest if you call my work poor. Feels disgusting to hear such reply’s from you guys. There had to be a valid reason why the ban was put up. You had to be specific and not send some useless documents saying I violated the law. Anyways I feel happy and proud to say I beat a record of winning so many record contest and I’m sure you guys have my data. Hope you and the company understands the value of business.
Hope you get QUALITY designers in the near future.
99Designs has lots of services they offer and they each have different pricing, however, they have their pricing on their website laid out like this…
My Final Opinion of 99Designs
Overall, 99Designs offers a good service, but it is an open market, so there will be different levels of quality without uniformity. Some customers like open market services, however, if you want more ongoing continuity, you’d have to go pro with 99Designs or choose an alternative service.
For designers, I wouldn’t recommend you putting lots of emphasis on 99Designs because it sounds like alot of the control over when you get paid is out of your hands. There’s also quite a few incidences where designers get banned without warning. If you have spare time, and you want to gain access to new markets, you might want to see if 99Designs could be a good fit for you. For me personally, I don’t like the idea of competing to get paid or competing over design concepts, but everyone is different, and this may work for you. I’d prefer to market my own business and get customers from a more predictable route than a competition. SEE MY 10 STEP GUIDE if you need help with starting a business from idea to enterprise.
As a customer, I think this is a great core idea, however, I’d be careful not to be associated with a contest where people work and don’t get paid–that’s unethical. I’d also read the fine print, so I understand thoroughly what’s being paid for. Be considerate that the designers are using their talents to feed themselves and their families, try to be fair, and pay them for the work they deliver to you and the effort they put in.
Many of the complaints the designers had were legit and customers being more considerate as well as new policies being put in place can minimize or end that. Let’s be the change we want to see.
If you’re not sold on using 99Designs, here are a few alternatives:
Fiverr – Fiverr used to have many similar complaints from freelancers, however, they’ve been implementing changes that make it better for freelancers to get paid reasonably on the platform. CHECK FIVERR OUT HERE or read my full review here.
Upwork – Upwork is a marketplace of independant freelancers. It’s a huge resource for talent of all sorts. If you have a creative project you’re working on, Upwork may be a good place to find help. Read my full review here.
DesignHusky – DesignHusky is a marketing agency where all of the staff work under one roof. If you’re looking for more continuity than what’s offered in an open marketplace, CHECK OUT DESIGNHUSKY HERE.
- They give customers many design options for their projects
- 65% of their reviews on TrustPilot were 5-stars
- The prices are affordable
- They offer a money back guarantee
- Many designers complained about being banned without warnings
- Designers complain about being underpaid
- 23% of their reviews on Trustpilot were 1-star
- If you request your money back, there are chances several people won't get paid for the time they invested
- Many customer complaints and reading responses suggests that customer support uses cookie cutter responses to complaints rather than genuine willingness to solve their problem (even legit concerns)