99Designs Disrupts the Design Service Business

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Design contest platform 99designs is not exactly the darling of the Web design world. Many believe that the company actually does more harm than good to designers and to the design industry itself.

Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t argue with the cold hard facts – 99Designs is growing and as it stands now, shows no signs of slowing down.

The four-year-old company, which received $35 million funding in April 2011, has held more than 115,000 design contests on its site to date, has doubled the run rate of new contests from a year ago and is on track to surpass 200,000 design contests by the end of 2012. That’s serious. It’s disruptive . . . and awesome.

The payouts that 99designs distributes to designers is also increasing. The design service expects to pay out approximately $1.5 million to its design community for contests held in January 2012, twice what designers earned for contests last January. 99designs has paid out over $29 million to date and projects it will pay out $25 million to its designer community in 2012.

Top designers on 99designs, according to the company, have reported earning more than $10,000 per month from a combination of designer payouts earned and ongoing client work sourced through the marketplace.

“2011 was a stand-out year for 99designs, from rapid growth in design contests and payouts to the successful launch of the first localized versions of our site in Australia and Canada,” said CEO Patrick Llewellyn. “In 2012 we’re focused on continuous improvement of our services as crowdsourced graphic design enters the mainstream. Caroline and Jeff not only have the experience we need at this next stage of growth, they are also passionate about design, which makes them a great fit for our team and community.”


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Christine Deverell 02-23-2012 10:33 PM

I have been looking for an online freelance artist to help me think of a design for my T-shirt. I never knew that you can hold a contest and request for designs over at 99designs. I always thought they only catered to websites. Now I see why they have become to popular. Though it might be damaging to the designers in the industry, this certainly benefits clients like me.

Jon Design 05-08-2012 2:04 AM

With so many designers bidding to do work for potential clients over numerous freelance design sites at ridiculously cut-rate prices, it’s no wonder 99Designs aren’t very well-liked among the designer-population. As with the bidding sites, only the designers lucky enough to get their foot in the door will be the ones to win bids and contests over and over. What about the thousands of talented ones that are never given the chance to shine simply because they don’t have the impressive feedback to show from past work? Still, on the upside, 99Designs’ concept of holding contests does allow the small potatoes to publish their work – even if it’s only seen by a specific audience.

Travis 02-26-2014 8:46 AM

Interesting concept. I don't think it is placing the right value on design services though.

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