What: 99Designs encourages artists and designers to design logos, websites, stationery, business cards, postcards, posters, clothing and brochures often on spec

Expected pay: speculative

Husl$core: $

Commissions & fees: 10% – 40%

Where: Nationwide

Requirements: Design skills and specialized software


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 have at least 30 different designers compete for the job. Higher-value contests — Silver, $499; Gold, $799 and Platinum, $1,299 — get you as many as 90 designs to choose from.

However, the value proposition is flipped for designers. Because you’re competing with at least 30 different designers for the lowest-value contest, you have poor odds of getting work. Your odds of doing a lot of work for no pay? Excellent.

If you do “win” a job, you’re 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. 

High fees

However, 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. You may lose all your accumulated credits, if you do. In fact, 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.” 

This structure and the poor odds that your work will pay off is why this site gets a substandard HuslScore. 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.

Still, opportunities for designers appear to be better at Belay and Fiverr.

Want to try 99Designs?

Here’s a link to the 99Designs site.

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 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.

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.

A word from a client

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. Designs in my contest were constantly being withdrawn (or designers’ accounts suspended mid-contest) because they were ripping off other designs as blatantly as possible and/or simply reposting designs verbatim. 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.

Waste of time and energy

Like so many others have said, they 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. 

Bad Form!! 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. You can’t even get an answer to what happened to the last contest I was entered in, I can’t even log in!

Booted “winners”

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 the contests was about to end, and based on the customer’s feedback, it seemed like he was definitely going to choose my design Today I received an email saying “Your account has been suspended forever…..after reviewing your 99designs portfolio, we’ve 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, 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. I then got suspended from the website before the competition was completed so my design has 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, you cretins.

Try 99Designs


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