99Designs Review: Is 99Designs Worth it For Hiring?

Jason Quey
August 12, 2020

Are you looking to source some new and fresh ideas for your logo? Or perhaps you want to create a new T-shirt for you and your team.

While design must match your messaging, it's no secret that design is the first impression you give potential customers.

Whatever your design needs, you can get it all covered with 99Designs. Here’s our 99Designs review.

Looking for more information about another hiring website?

  1. For hiring developers, check out Toptal, Lemon.io, and Codementor.
  2. For hiring designers, check out DesignBro and DesignHill.
  3. For all hiring needs, including overseas outsourcing, check out OnlineJobs, Fiverr, and Upwork.
  4. You can check out a list of website hiring reviews here.

99Designs praise and pros

99Designs has two options for any project:

  1. You can hire a dedicated graphic designer or illustrator. Use this direction if you have a clear idea of the style and art direction of your project.
  2. You can run a design contest. This project type is ideal if you want to explore different ideas, styles, and concepts.

Design contests allow you to get a gold mine of design ideas for a fixed price

Because 99Designs is one of the largest freelance marketplaces, you could get over 100 bids on a single contest. This is a fantastic choice if you have no idea how to explain your concept to a graphic designer.

The nature of a design contest gives you many options at a fixed price. That means you’ll never pay more than what you set upfront.

Additionally, 99Designs will give you an estimate of the expected number of submissions based on your budget.

Before starting your design contest, you’ll present your vision to the designers with their simple onboarding process.

First, you’ll select a few logos you like to give designers an idea what you have in mind:

99Designs praise and pros

Second, give the designers a flavor of your brand’s style:

99Designs praise and pros

Third, you’ll select up to three colors to communicate your brand values:

99Designs praise and pros

Fourth, 99Designs will give a project brief to let designers know more about your company:

99Designs praise and pros

Finally, you’ll select your pricing plan along with any other promotional upgrades:

99Designs praise and pros

After most contests, you’ll get 20-50 submissions, depending on what price you pay.

Don’t like your designs? 99Designs offers you a full refund

99Designs offers a 60-day, 100% money-back guarantee.

There are three exceptions to the guarantee:

  1. Contests with a guaranteed prize.
  2. Contests that have entered the final round. Once you enter the final round, your contest automatically becomes guaranteed.
  3. Contests where a winner has been awarded.

99Designs complaints and cons

Not every contest will get you many quality designs

It’s not entirely clear how 99Designs promotes your project. But if it lacks details from their simple onboarding process, you’re less likely to get the requested designs.

99Designs does not remove many freelancers from their talent pool, either. As a result, expect only ⅓ to ⅔ of your designs at a professional standard.

If you don’t run a blind contest, expect to get near-duplicate designs

While you may get over 100 logos, you might notice several submissions to be very similar.

By default, all designers will be able to see what other designers are submitting. 

As a result, a few freelancers may wait until the last minute to flood you with similar submissions with tiny variations. They hope you will randomly pick their design over someone else’s design.

There’s no evidence yet that a blind project will get you more submissions. But from the designer’s point-of-view, this seems logical.

Hiring for more than one art project may prove challenging

Let’s say you have a few potential winning designs. Further, you want to hire the designer for other design projects such as a custom Powerpoint template or a car wrap.

With a contest, you can’t review resumes, portfolios, or employer feedback before awarding a winner. So if you want to dig deeper into a designer’s background for ongoing work, you’re out of luck.

The best likely aren’t in design contests

There’s a school of thought that design contests are where newbie designers go because they can’t find steady work. 

To a degree, do you really care if they’re a senior or junior designer?

You still get to review all designs and pick the one you like. Hiring rising talent allows you to get design help at a fraction of the price.

Speaking of price...

99Designs pricing - What’s 99Designs’s fee structure?

The price you’ll pay for each project depends on the work you want done. Most projects range between $299-$2,500.

Here is a sample of five design contest prices:

Each design project comes in four base price plans: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. In addition to getting more designs, gold and platinum packages will attract top designers. 

Here’s a sample of the four price plans for blog design:

99Designs pricing - What’s 99Designs’s fee structure?

99Designs offers several add-ons, including:

  • A personal creative consultant to offer advice and creative direction: $129.
  • Feature your contest to the top of the list. 99Designs estimates you’ll get 40% more designs: $79.
  • Highlight your contest in orange to make it stand out. 99Designs estimates you’ll get 15% more designs: $19.
  • List your contest on the 99Designs blog. 99Designs estimates you’ll reach 10,000+ designers daily and get 15% more designs: $19.
  • Feature, highlight, and promote your contest on the blog: $99 (save $18 or 15%).
  • Guarantee payment, which shows designers you’re fully committed. You won’t be able to request a refund. 99Designs estimates you’ll receive 50% more designs on average.
  • Make your contest private, which makes it invisible outside of 99designs. This also requires designers to sign a confidentiality NDA agreement.
  • Complete the contest faster to finish in 3 days ($39), 2 days ($59), or 24 hours ($79).

Is 99Designs worth it for hiring?


Running a contest is a wonderful way to get several designs to choose from. 

If you’re not a designer, design contests will save you a lot of time and hassle. Even if you have a design background, you’ll quickly outsource your work to someone else.

99Designs will help you find the right design to give customers a great experience with your brand.

The Product Marketing Agency Serving Entrepreneurs From Idea to Scale

Jason Quey

I am the CEO and Founder of Growth Ramp. I enjoy helping high-growth startups on their journey from idea to scale.

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