What: Design logos, websites, stationery, business cards,postcards, posters, clothing and brochures

Expected pay: speculative

Husl$core: $$

Commissions & fees: 10% – 40%

Where: Nationwide

Requirements: Design skills and specialized software

Review: 99Designs offers a great value proposition to customers who want a logo or business card designed on the cheap. For as little as $299, the customer can create a (Bronze) “contest” and expect to have designers compete for the job, submitting at least 30 different designs for you to choose from. Higher-value contests — Silver, $499; Gold, $799 and Platinum, $1,299 — get you as many as 90 designs to choose from.

However, if you’re looking at this opportunity from the standpoint of a designer, you are likely to do a lot of work for absolutely no pay. In a bronze contest, for instance, any one of your designs has less than a 1 in 30 chance of being the winner. Those aren’t great odds. And the odds get worse for the higher-value contests. Moreover, you’re not competing for the full contest value. According to designers writing on Quora, the site actually nabs 30% to 40% of the contest value for itself, passing on the remainder to the “winner.”

Worse, designers say that even when they appear to be among the relative few to be on track to “win” a design job, they can get booted from the platform without notice or appeal. Designers get paid in “credits” that must be turned into cash through either PayPal or Payoneer. PayPal will charge roughly 3% for this service; Payoneer’s fees vary by vendor and are not specifically disclosed by 99Designs, which recommends that you use Payoneer anyway. 

Also disturbing is that the site’s terms say that “all amounts deposited or paid to 99designs are property of 99designs and 99designs may use those funds as it sees fit.” If you are booted from the platform, you may lose all or some of the credits you have accumulated in your account. In other words, cash out quickly or you may lose the opportunity to cash out at all. This structure and the poor odds that your work will pay off is why this site gets a substandard HuslScore.

In fact, the only reason this site doesn’t get our lowest Husl$core is because it also offers the option of striking one-on-one design deals, where the site appears to take a far more reasonable 10% fee. Opportunities for designers appear to be better at Belay and Remote

What their designers say: (from Quora)

A bronze contest costs about $299 to the contest holder. The designer who wins the contest gets paid $190. Therefore, 99designs takes $109 on every bronze contest. Similarly, they take $64 on business card designing contests, $69 on T-shirt designing contests,$99 on book cover designing contests. All in all, 99Designs takes about 30–40% of the overall amount a contest holder pays. It depends on what kind of contest is held and the category it’s labelled under.

(from SiteJabber)

After being on 99designs for a couple of days, and entering contests, my profile got suspended due to not meeting their quality standards. By that time I had already won one contest and gotten a 4 out of five stars on one of my other Logo-submissions, as well as very positive feedback one a coupe of other submissions. I get that 99designs has standards, as they should, but I really think you should get a warning before they suspend you out of the blue for a month. I was in the middle of communicating with the client from the contest I won, and since my profile was on hold, I didn’t get notifications on my email. So then I had to check and log in all the time. When I contacted support to explain this, and to get an explanation to why I was suspended, I just got a 2-sentence copy paste from the original suspension mail. And when I check their reviews here, I see that all they do is to copy paste the same generic answer to all dissatisfied previous members.

99designs is simply a place to exploit designers like hell. Here is my 3 years experience with 99designs.I am professional designer with a huge experience, I was one of the top most designer in Elance (Every professional designer know that site), after it merged with Upwork I tried 99designs as Upwork was also a scam, full with fake projects and horrible clients. So I thought to work through 99designs but unfortunately it worse than Upwork, in my 3 years I competed more than 500 contests where I was made only 5 contest, even for a very experience designer like me has the wining ratio of 1:100, it does not matter how qualified you are, you can’t compete with 100 other designers. They will show you $199 prize money but trust me you will never ever win that no matter how much you try or how talented you are.  In my opinion you will have better chance of winning in forex trading( only 5% success ratio) rather than wining in 99designs.

Using services like 99designs degrades the quality of the creative industry. Designers get extorted in competitions creating ideas for free.

crap.. waste of time…If you submit too many designs …they will block and suspend your account..other app are far better way than this…its just a waste of time n energy..

For about $600.00 I ended up having 20+ offshore designers all generically copying the first two designs that I gave 4 or 5 stars. I had to get really specific (and directly message most of them) to get any of them to develop anything original. There also seems to be a HUGE issue with fraud. Designs in my contest were constantly being withdrawn (or designers’ account suspended mid-contest) because they were ripping off other designs as blatantly as possible and/or simply reposting designs verbatim. I did a little snooping and found that multiple entry level designers in my contest were taking designs from better designers (from within my contest) and posting them to their own profiles as samples, continuing the cycle of fraud into other design contests. I’m savvy enough to catch this, but I worry for all the mom-and-pop shops out there who wouldn’t think to thoroughly review designer profiles and catch the scammers. There also seems to be no chat support on the site, which (again based on experience) is a clear indicator that they anticipate their customers being annoyed and don’t want to deal with it, so it’s easier to funnel everyone into generic support FAQs.

It’s a scam. From a contest holder:”This is a joke. Lxxxxxx coerced Dxxx Hxxxxxxxxxxx into choosing him as the winner of the contest so he could get the job without any competitors getting in the way. This is a breach of contest rules and unfair to all other designers. We apologize to all the legitimate designers that probably could have won the contest with designs that were much better than this garbage. It’s an unfair process and 99designs needs to declare the contest unfair and rigged. 99designs should disqualify Lxxxxxx and refund the money back to Dxxx Hxxxxxxxxxxx. Unfortunately this is not happening and DH will be seeking legal relief to remedy the situation.”

Like so many others have said, then frequently ban your account if the site owners think your standards are not up to scratch. Even if you were a finalist among contests. Their support team is non existent, yet they sit and police people’s submissions. Its nonsense. Im sure they scam more people and there are a lot of fake reviews here. Stay away from them. Bunch of idiots. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFss5cTlIl0, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlpy0ESmBgQ . A quote from the video above “””””A good number of “clients” on these crowdsourcing sites are associates working for large corporate ad/imaging/graphics firms…What they look for are either ideas or designs for the smaller non-contractual “penny ante” clients on a limited budget (usually $5K and less), and then go to these crowdsourcing sites, and hold contests in order to get their pick of a cache of designs, and either pay the winner pennies on the dollar, or (more often) not at all…Then the associate re-works the project to make it feasible for print, or for the web, and then sells the finished project to the actual client at market price, and is still able to devote all their creative time towards the large scale big money contractual clients, while making extra money for the company, or for themselves on the side…”””””

Bad Form!! 99designs, I also entered a few contests, one I was invited to enter by the books author, I was a finalist in two contests and was also put on hold by email before the end of a contest that I was a finalist in. The email I received even had do not reply to this message, u can’t even get an answer to what happened to the last contest I was entered in, I can’t even log in!!!!!!

I’m a college design student who has been using 99designs for the past 3 weeks, as a way to potentially make some money because I couldn’t find a summer job… I participated in three contests, and was chosen as a finalist for two….one of them was about to end, and based on the customer’s feedback it seemed like he was definitely going to choose mine….and then today I received an email saying “Your account has been suspended forever for the following reason…..after reviewing your 99designs portfolio, weve found that you do not yet meet our minimum quality standards”……….the customers liked what I was submitting, but because the people running the website didn’t like it, I got suspended and automatically lost the contests. DON’T waste your time like I did!

I submitted a couple of designs and got good feedback from the client for one of them, the other was given 4 stars along with 3 other peoples efforts. This suggests the design was shortlisted seeing as they were the only designs even given ratings out of the 50 something. I then got suspended from the website before the competition was completed so my design have been removed. This is a joke. I’ve read some of the comments on here and people are being suspended for the quality of their work even though they have won competitions. Sort it out 99designs, you cretins.

Try 99Designs