99designs Review: Is This Platform Worth The Price?

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99designs has a lot of features for graphic designers. They have a marketplace where you can post your design project and bid on other designs, they have an online community to connect with people, and they offer free expert advice for those who need it.  

But is the price tag worth it? That’s what I wanted to find out in this 99designs review.

If you've already decided to try 99designs, just click the button below.

What is 99designs?

To begin with, 99designs is an online community for graphic designers that offers a marketplace for design projects. On this marketplace, you can post your design project and other designers will submit designs for you to choose from.

99designs review

The premise behind 99designs is that designers can earn money for their ideas and creativity. Regardless of whether or not you have a project, you can also earn money on the platform from other designers who want your feedback on their design projects.

Personally, I think this is an innovative model with great potential, because it enables graphic designers to make a living doing something they love while at the same time encouraging them to experiment and be creative.

The great thing about 99designs is that the process is very straightforward, which makes the platform user-friendly. You post your project and wait for designers to submit their designs. You can choose from a list of designs and commission whoever you want to work on your project. This is a far easier process than trying to find a designer on your own, because you’re not limited to just one designer or agency.  

How does it work?

The platform is intuitive and easy to navigate. You can find the contact form on the home page and invite your designers to submit their designs. All you have to do is follow the instructions and submit a brief description of your project.

You post your design project and describe what you want (examples of previous work that inspired your idea, etc.) or upload your sketch/idea and explain more in detail.

How does 99designs work

Once you’ve chosen your designer(s), they can build your project using the most popular design tools. You can choose to have them hand draw everything or use an existing logo and incorporate their personal style.

After I chose my designer(s), they submitted my project and I approved it or modified it.

The designs are posted on the marketplace and designers are paid based on how many views their designs get once submitted (or how much money you want to invest).

Once your project is complete, you can order the prints and other products that you need associated with your project.

If you’re unsure if the designs meet your specs or are meeting expectations, you can send a request for advice to the experts on the platform. This is more of an online community aspect of the platform, where experts from around the world provide expert advice about design problems and offer their own creative solutions to design problems. 

Who is it for?

The best part about 99designs is that it can be used by anyone. Regardless of your budget, you can find affordable or free designs, and there’s also a bunch of perks to using the platform. Here are some of the people who you will most likely want to use 99designs: 

  • First-time entrepreneurs and small businesses — If you’re starting a business from scratch, then you need your brand identity to be consistent across all platforms. With 99designs, you can create a logo that matches your branding theme. For example, if you have a website with bright colors and an upbeat mood, then having an eye-catching logo is essential.
  • Bloggers and online entrepreneurs — If you’re a blogger or online entrepreneur, then you know how important your branding is to your business. 99designs can be used to create book covers, logos, social media images, advertisements, layouts and more.
  • Visual learners — 99designs is the perfect platform for visual learners because it connects them with graphic designers from around the world. If you learn best by seeing things visually, then this is an excellent platform for you. It’s also perfect for sharing ideas and collaborating with other people who share your creative visual learning style.
  • Graphic designers — It’s no secret that it’s tough to make a living as a graphic designer. What I love about 99designs is that it empowers independent graphic designers to make a living doing what they love. If you have an idea for a design project, then this is the perfect platform because you can use your own talent and creativity to make money doing what you enjoy.
  • Artists and illustrators — I also want to mention artists and illustrators because there are users on the platform who are looking for custom art for their business or brand identity. Whether you’re creating designs for greeting cards, posters or websites, this is the ideal platform because there are people who need your services.

99designs features

99designs is very flexible and can be used by anyone. The platform is simple but unique, which makes it a good fit for entrepreneurs and small businesses who need graphic design services. Here are some of its best features:

Design Expert Consultation

The most unique feature of 99designs is that it offers a design expert consultation. Think of the consultation as a one-on-one session with your designer. This is an efficient way for you to get your questions answered and clarify any concerns you have about your project.

99designs Design Expert Consultation

Although this isn’t a part of the platform, there’s also an online community in which experts offer advice and solutions to design issues. This is a good way to search for graphic designers who share your creative style and want to help others who are in need of their services.

It’s free - If you don’t want to pay anything, then you don’t have to. You can create a project for free, and it’s available to everyone. When you do decide to take the next step and hire a designer, you’ll need to pay a small fee depending on your reward level. For example, if you choose the “Included” reward level, then your design will cost $299 per design.

Getting your designs done

There are two ways to get your design work done on the platform. The first one is by having designs created for you through contests. You post your project and offer a price for the winning design that will be awarded to the designer. The other way is through direct conversations with designers, where you can have a direct chat with them about the project's scope and requirements before awarding them payment.

Working with designers directly

So far, the main reason I'm considering working with 99Designs is the possibility of working directly with designers. Creating a project is not a difficult thing in itself. However, having the designer hand over the finished design (or at least a sketch) would be excellent and much more convenient for me. The only problem is that I don't have much experience in this area.

This is the first way this site operates, and it is considered more professional as it gives you a chance to have a discussion with different designers about your requirements before awarding them your project. It isn't like most sites that operate on just contests, meaning you don't have to worry about a contest being run or deadline. The only time where deadlines are important is if you are working on a contest.

The main thing that 99Designs does for designers is provide the platform where they can showcase their talent and convince potential clients to award them a job. This aspect of the site has helped many web designers build their portfolio, earn better recognition and create awareness for their designs within the online community (meaning more chances for jobs).

As a client, you'll be able to see a design you like by searching the listings, and then clicking on that listing to view examples of work. Each design is accompanied by a brief description and summary of what was done. This is useful for clients who don't want to read too much, but want to make sure they are selecting work appropriate for their project. For example, if you have an idea about the look and feel of your branding, you can see a few designs that match this brief.

There's another thing you can do by clicking on the small heart icon before finding your designer. It will bring up a menu where you'll find three options: 

  • Clicking on Pay Now will let you pay directly from the site without any fees.
  • You can select Request a Free Quote if you want to discuss your project in detail with the designer first before awarding them the job.
  • You can click on View Samples to see finished work that the designer has worked on previously. This is great as it gives you an idea about what to expect from this designer and whether or not your expectations are being met or not.

Run a contest

There are two types of contests available on 99Designs, and they are more for beginners who might not know exactly what they are looking for when it comes to designing their site or logo.

99designs Run a contest

The first one is called Fixed Price Contests, where you simply set the price you are willing to pay for a certain design, and then submit your contest. You can then approve designs, view the progress of the contest from within your dashboard and finally award winners once you are satisfied with their work.

The second type of contest is called Most Popular Contests. This is where the client submits a few details about what they would like to see in their site or logo designs (usually these details are provided by the designer), and then have a specific number of days to vote for their favorite design. Once the contest has ended, the designer with the most votes will be awarded with the job.

Here you can see a list of logo designs that have been made by different designers. These are either user-submitted work or designs submitted by professional designers. You can click on any design to see a preview of what it looks like, as well as view comments from other members of the platform who have voted for these designs. You can create your own club and have a chance to view great designs that have yet to appear on the site.


There are two main reasons why you'll find a Fixed Price Contest available on 99Designs. The first one is that it gives you the opportunity to have a discussion with different designers about what kind of design you are looking for and how they would approach giving this design to you.

You can then decide if you wish to award them your project or not after they have done some work for you. The other reason behind this is that contest winners often get offered jobs by others who might want their work. This means that it gives designers a chance to see how their designs are received by clients, and whether or not they can attract other clients to give them jobs.

The Most Popular Contest is more of a way to get your work seen by the community. It might have been submitted by you, or someone else who has already entered the contest, and you just want to see what kind of designs people would like to see for your personal site or business. It's one of the most popular contests on 99Designs because designers often simply enter it just because it's fun and gives them that extra motivation.

Design categories

There are many categories you will come across when you're browsing through the listing of designs (these are grouped into different sections), but if you are a designer who isn't interested in the design category that 99Designs belongs to, but rather any other category, you can always search for it. This way you can browse through all the categories available on the site and find designs that fit best with what you're looking for.

99designs categories

Creative & Design - this is where you can find all the designs related to the creative and design industry. Here you'll see things like logos, websites, flyers, brochures and portfolios.

Branding - this is where you will see sites related to branding and marketing. The categories include websites for printers and designers, as well as business cards designed by other designers on 99Designs.

Digital - this is where all the digital projects are found. It's basically a category of things that are usually related to digital products or work, like logos for companies that create apps or software programs.

Green - here you will find sites related to green concepts such as aquaponics and solar panels. If you're looking for a green site, this is the place to come.

Medical - since this category was created there have been a couple of projects that have been submitted to it. This includes plans for hospitals and medical centers, as well as websites for medical drug manufacturers.

Restaurants & Bars - if you are looking for a website designed for restaurants or bars, this category is where you can find them. The design categories include sites that offer menus from different restaurants as well as portfolios designed by designers who specialize in restaurant sites and logo designs.

Sports - this is where you can find sites related to sports leagues, boards and organizations. The categories include websites for teams, players, coaches and sites for athletes. There are also designs for apps for sports organizations.

Technology - if you're looking for a website or app created for a medical drug manufacturer, or an app created either just for iPhones, iPads or Android phones and tablets, this category is where you can find them. There are also designs related to technology conferences and meetings that are usually organized by companies.

The Best Designs - this is the place where all the best received designs on 99Designs end up shortly after the contest ends. It's a great place to go if you want to see some of the latest trends in graphic design or search through new talent on the site.

If you are a designer or a client who has created your own project on 99Designs, you will notice that some projects have already been awarded to the designers. You can click on any of these design projects to read the details that go with it. This can include the same information as what is already mentioned for individual designs above.

For any contests, the client has to select a category before they submit their contest to the community for voting. This way the designs that will be submitted will fit with the category, and therefore increase the chance of getting more votes. 

Navigating 99Designs

The site itself is simple and easy to navigate. It's filled with designs from all over the world and from different designers who range in skill level of their designs. Drawing a Designer on 99Designs is not the same as finding a designer that specializes in your particular field of interest on 99Designs.

There are many designers who are not actively submitting work at this stage of the site, though there are thousands of other designers on the site that are active and will likely be able to draw you up a design that fits your needs perfectly.

Once you have found a designer on 99Designs you are happy with, you can sign up for a contest that is going on. The contest lasts from 7 to 10 days depending on the length of the specific contest. Some contests last for more than a week and others less. It all depends on what goes into the project and how long it takes to complete.

Navigating 99Designs

The next step after signing up for a 99Designs contest is to choose your style if there are any available options and then let designers know what type of design you are looking for and at what price point. It is not uncommon for you to get a lot of responses before narrowing the field down and getting a proper offer.

When you have that offer in hand, you then have to pick a quick turn time. 99Designs sends out the design files as soon as possible after receiving them so there is no worry about it taking too long. You also don't want to begin the project several weeks before your deadline or else it will end up costing you more.

Next, you are ready to submit your project with all of your expectations and details about your project. This is where payment comes in and it can be done by either accepting their offer, do an open bidding process, or else pay by invoice.

Payment is then transferred and you will be able to view the work done on your contest as it progresses. This is where you can see design files by going into "My Page" and clicking on the design you wish to view. The work done on your contest will appear in a portfolio which can be accessed by anyone who wishes to review it.

Once your contest has ended, you'll be able to see all of the designs submitted as well as choose one that stands out from all of the others submitted. You'll then have the option of accepting or declining this offer, or else ask for more changes before awarding them payment for their work.

If you do not want to award the designer at this point, you can go back into your dashboard and go on viewing the design work for other designers on 99Designs. You will then be able to find a different designer who is more suited to complete your contest.

When you submit a design that you are happy with after receiving payment, designers will usually start working immediately on it and send out their first draft in a few days. It's important to realize that designers are extremely busy and they cannot work on every single project due to the fact that there are so many designs submitted every day. While they can complete the work within a few days, they might take a week to finish the rest. It usually takes another week before the final design is ready for you to begin working on it.

99designs also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, where if there are any problems with your winning design, you will be refunded all of your money. There's no need to wait for a designer to reach out to you first and ask about your project and see whether or not it can be completed in time or not. 99designs will simply refund your money immediately if there are any problems that arise during the design process. 

99Designs pricing

I was so excited about working with designers through this platform that I neglected to look into their pricing model first before posting my project and asking for designs. That was my biggest mistake, as it turned out to be quite expensive to work with them in many of the categories they have listed as contest prizes.

99designs pricing plans

The service has many benefits, but also some disadvantages including: high fees for important features such as posting a contest or asking questions about your design idea; an unclear explanation of its pricing plans; and some questionable reviews of it from bloggers online. 

99Designs review: is it worth the price?

Personally, I really like how the whole interface works. It’s simple, clear and uncluttered. It feels a lot like Etsy and would be very user-friendly for anyone who is just getting started with online design work.

One of the best things about 99Designs is that it gives you the ability to look at all the top-rated designs for your competition. If you don’t have any ideas, you can look at what everyone else has done and then tweak it a bit to customize it for your needs.

That said, it's a good idea to consider your options first. Make sure you're using a dependable company before you go all-in on any one design contest.

Are there hidden fees? Do they have a clear and transparent sign-up process? Is the platform going to work for you?

Yes, there are other marketplace options available, but 99Designs is one of the best. It has nearly ten million registered users who have generated over $200 million in revenue. If you're looking for some great designs at affordable rates, this is definitely worth checking out.

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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