If you are a graphic designer looking for ways to earn extra money, there’s a site called 99designs that claims you will be able to earn extra cash working as a freelance designer.
Now, the question is, is this opportunity worth it or not? That’s what you are about to find out in this 99designs review.
I’ve taken a closer look at 99designs to see how it works and what it offers, and have compared it with other sites that offer the same kind of earning opportunity. In this review, you will learn all you need to know about 99designs, so you can decide if you should go for it or not.
What is 99designs and what does it offer?
99designs is a website that offers design services (graphics and web) for its clients. So, for you to earn from this site, you’ll have to provide design services. And yes, it is indeed a legit site because you will really get paid to design images (like logos) and websites.
Now, the first step to figuring out if 99designs is worth it is to understand how it works. And the best way to do this is to examine the earning opportunities it offers. By doing so, you will have an idea of how much time and effort is required to earn from this site.
So, here’s how to earn from 99designs.
Option 1 – Design contests
One way to earn from 99designs is to join design contests. Once you become a 99designs graphics designer, you will be able to join design contests, where you can potentially win a decent amount.
To view all the contests available, you just have to log in to the member dashboard. Just pick the contest you are interested in joining and click it. You will then see the full details of the contest including the amount you can potentially win.
The idea behind this earning opportunity is that a client will hold a design contest for their graphic design needs. For example, a client is looking for a great logo for their company. They can hold a contest and whoever submits the logo that they prefer will win the prize.
It's actually a smart way to get your graphic design needs to be met, in my opinion. You let a bunch of people present their ideas and just choose which one you like.
However, if you look at it from your perspective as an earner, it’s not a great way to earn money. Sure, you get the chance to earn a decent amount. But if you don’t win the contest, you will have wasted your time because you won’t receive any compensation.
That being said, as a 99designs graphics designer, you have no choice but to participate in these contests because it can affect the other opportunity the site offers (which I will discuss next). If you get chosen as the winner, the amount you’ve won will be credited to your 99designs balance.
Each contest will run for seven days. The first four days are for the qualifying round. After the fourth day, six finalists will be chosen. Then, these six finalists will be given three days to work with the client in improving their design.
After this period is over, the client will be given up to five days to pick the winner. For web design contests, the contest will run significantly longer.
Option 2 – 1-to-1 projects
The other way to earn from 99designs is to work on 1-to-1 projects. This is the part where you will get matched with a potential client.
Just to make it clear, getting matched doesn’t automatically guarantee you the slot for the project. You have to reach an agreement with the client first.
This means you’ll have to submit a quote for the service you are willing to render. Now, here’s the important thing you need to know about this opportunity. Getting matched with a client is not an easy thing.
99designs will first have to recognize that you have what it takes to satisfy their clients. And the only way to do that is to show your capabilities. You can do this through your portfolio, which will be included in the application process (more on this later).
Another part that can affect this is your performance in contests. Once 99designs sees you’ve won several contests (or at least qualified in the final round several times), they will recognize that you have what it takes to work with their clients.
This is why I mentioned earlier that you can’t take contests for granted because it is the best way to showcase your skills as a designer.
When this happens, you will start to get matched with clients. Now, if you and the client reach an agreement, all that’s left to be done is to deliver. Once you submit your work, the client will review it, and if everything is in order, the payment will be released to you.
The good thing about this earning opportunity is that the client actually pays upfront. 99designs will hold the payment in escrow until both parties are satisfied. It’s a good system to ensure that the designer gets paid.
How do you get paid?
Every time you win a contest or complete a project, you will be paid a certain amount, and it will be credited to your account balance.
Once you’ve earned at least $25, you will be able to withdraw your earnings via PayPal or Payoneer. The threshold is relatively high, but you can easily hit it if you win a contest or complete a project because the contests and projects will usually pay you a good amount.
However, just be aware that 99designs imposes a client introduction fee which will deduct 20% from the first $500 of paid invoices from 1-to-1 projects. There is also what is called a platform fee which will be deducted from the amount you will earn per project or contest that you will win.
The platform fee will start at 15% and can be lowered down to 5% when your designer level goes up. The designer level is your rating as a designer for 99designs. This will increase as you keep providing services that meet the 99designs standard.
Overall, the payment system of 99designs is relatively straightforward. I like the fact that it offers a convenient payment method like PayPal. If you are interested in more sites that offer a convenient payment method, I would recommend you check out the top sites that pay via PayPal.
How much money can you make?
The amount you can earn from 99designs will depend on how many contests you can win and the 1-to-1 projects you can complete. As mentioned earlier, 99designs does pay a decent amount.
However, as also explained above, there are a few fees involved you have to pay every time you earn from 99designs. This can significantly affect your total earnings.
Plus, the downside of this platform is that there’s no guarantee you will be able to earn right away when you become a member. That’s because you won’t get matched with clients right away, and that is the only guaranteed method to earn.
Winning contests can be hard because you’ll have to compete with other designers, and they have the skills too. That is why I would say that even though the site does pay a good amount, the earning potential is still not that good, in my opinion.
Can you use it on mobile?
99designs doesn’t have a mobile app, but you will be able to log in to the member dashboard from a mobile device using a mobile web browser. The site is mobile-friendly, so you won’t have a hard time reading all the content and navigating the site.
However, the only time it makes sense to log in to the dashboard from a mobile device is when you want to check if there are projects assigned to you or if you want to cash out.
Apart from those instances, I don’t really see the need to use a mobile device because the work you need to do has to be done on a computer since you’ll be using photo editing software. So, there’s really no point in logging in to the site from a mobile device, in my opinion.
Who can join 99designs?
The best thing about 99designs, in my opinion, is that it is available more or less worldwide. You will be able to apply as a designer for the site regardless of where you live.
But I do have to tell you that the process of joining 99designs isn’t easy. When you fill out the sign-up form, all you are really doing is applying for a spot as a designer on the site.
You’ll have to complete your profile, provide samples of your work, and send your portfolio (which can be any website you’ve done or something like your Behance profile). Then, once you’ve submitted your application, 99designs will review it.
There’s no info about the exact time it will take before you hear back from them. But once they finish reviewing your application, you will receive an email notifying you whether you were accepted or not.
You will only be given two chances to apply. If you get rejected both times, the next time you can apply will be one year after your first application.
As you can see, becoming a 99designs designer is not as easy as you might have hoped for. The site is really strict with which designers they will accept into their platform because they want to ensure that their clients will only receive the best services.
Can you get support?
If you have any questions about the site or your account, you can check out the Help page. It discusses most of the important topics you need to know about 99designs.
If you can’t find the answers you are looking for, you can submit a request on the same page. Just fill out the necessary fields and hit submit.
Overall, I would say the site offers decent support for its members since it offers a convenient and easy way for you to request assistance.
99designs is a legit freelance site for designers. It has a couple of good features, but it also has some disadvantages you need to be aware of.
Let me conclude this review by summarizing its pros and cons to give you an overview of what the site offers. Then, you can decide if you should go for it or not.
- Available worldwide
- Offers PayPal as a payment method
- Doesn’t offer guaranteed earnings right away
- The site is very strict with who they will accept as designers
- There will be a couple of fees involved
In my opinion, 99designs is not for everyone. If you are a skilled web or graphics designer, this can be a decent secondary site to earn from. But I do have to warn you that 99designs will impose fees that can significantly affect your overall earnings.
Plus, you’ll have to go through a strict application process to become one of their designers, so there’s no guarantee they will even accept you. Another thing you need to know is that there’s no guarantee you will be able to earn immediately once you get accepted.
That’s why if you are looking for guaranteed ways to earn as a freelancer, I would suggest you check out the best freelance sites you can join instead. The sites on this list all have good earning potential, and registering as a member won’t be an issue.
If you have any comments, questions, or have any experiences with the 99designs yourself, I would love to hear from you in a comment below.