One of the most popular modern jobs nowadays is online designing. It presents some interesting market opportunities for small to midsize companies to boost their online exposure. Inside this 99designs review, we’ll be exploring how designers make money and the pros and cons of using this platform to expand your career.
Let us dive straight in.
99Designs at a Glance
Hailed from Melbourne Australia, 99Designs is basically a freelance platform for ordering custom made graphic designs like logos, illustrations, packaging, labeling, merchandise designing, website design, etc.
Clients who engage with this type of service are usually searching for professional work and they come from mid to big-size businesses but that’s not always the case. Designers are selected based on impressive portfolios or crowdsource from designing contests – more on that later.
As a registered designer, you’ll have a dedicated portfolio to display your creative art, previous work experiences, customer ratings and level of skills. 99Designs will provide step-by-step guidance on how to set up this information systematically when you create your free account so that your portfolio will look both professional and interesting.
How Designers Make Money on 99Designs
There are three ways to earn as a creative designer on 99Designs;
(1) Work Directly With Clients
In this 1-to-1 project relationship, clients will browse through the designers’ listings and select a portfolio that they like. This is often the case for clients who know what kind of creative they are looking for or have specific ideas for the project.
You can set your own prices and the platform will secure the full payment from the client upfront. Before releasing the fund either through PayPal or Payoneer, there are two types of fee charges you need to be aware of;
Client introduction fee – 20% from the first $500 of paid invoices with a maximum fee of $100 in total. This fee is waived when you win the design contest or when the (new) client is invited to use the platform through email invitations.
Platform fees – These charges are used to cover operational costs for the platform. Clients need to pay a fixed 5% fee while the designers’ fees range between 5% to 15% depending on their levels.
(2) Join a Design Contest
In this working relationship, a client buys a contest package (range between $299 to $1299) and opens the project for the entire design community to participate. The best design will be chosen and the designer will bring home the cash prize allocated as payment for their service. The minimum earning payout is $25.
(3) Become a 99Designs Affiliate
Ever heard of affiliate marketing? It’s an income model that allows online vendors to generate more business with the power of referrals. By joining the 99Designs affiliate program (sign up through Impact), you can refer new customers to the platform and earn a $35 commission for every new project or contest launched.
This rate increases to $50 per sale when you bring in more than 50 sales and if this goes on consistently every 3 months, you will become a brand partner, earning a lucrative $80 per sale. The affiliation is a money-making opportunity for anyone who likes to discuss creative art designs in the online space.
You can talk about things like;
- Creating a professional logo for websites
- Boosting online presences for businesses with digital designs
- The benefits of hiring professional designers
- How to create a successful T-shirt campaign
- How to come up with good illustrations for book and magazine covers
- How to enhance marketing for physical goods
- And many more
These are just some interesting topics that can be linked to the promotion of 99Designs and one of the best ways to do this is through blogging. With a blog, you can drive free traffic using good quality content as well as creating a strong foundation for social following.
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The Pros of Using 99Designs as a Designer
(1) Professional and Secure – Your free portfolio page displays a professional outlook and that’s the kind of impression you want to show potential clients. There’s very little need to visit different sources to learn more about your work because everything can be found in one place. The platform also provides a secure channel for project communication and payment transaction which is reassuring for both parties.
(2) Global Clientele – At 99Designs, your work will be exposed to thousands of clients around the world, thus increasing your chances of working with interesting businesses and new project ideas.
This experience can help to sharpen your creative skills and add more value to your credentials. In a way, it’s a more robust platform to scale your career versus selling gigs on Fiverr or competing on crowded merchandise marketplaces like Redbubble, Threadless and Zazzle.
(3) Community Support – Besides job opportunities, 99Designs is also an online community that lets you engage with other graphic designers to exchange knowledge and lend support whenever necessary. This will lead to better collaboration and excellent production for the creative market.
(4) Earn Extra Income – In this digital era, opportunities are abundant and you should look beyond the comfort of a fixed salary to sustain your lifestyle. Whether you’re fresh out of college or an expert, 99Designs is definitely a platform you can use to your advantage to make more money as a designer in the online space.
The Downsides of Using 99Designs
(1) Tough Competition – Since any qualified designers can open a portfolio account for free, this will encourage a lot of sign-ups and competition on the platform. For any given creative category, you are likely to encounter hundreds (if not thousands) of freelancers offering similar services.
The default listing usually displays top-level and experienced designers on the first few pages so if you’re a newbie, your portfolio may not be easily discovered. Positive ratings, adding new designs and leveling up your experience are the things you need to work on but those will take time.
(2) High Fee Charges – 99Designs fees are probably one of the highest I’ve seen so far in terms of service listings. I know every business needs to cover their expenses but the 20% client introduction fee and the 5% to 15% designer level fees can make a huge dent on your income earnings.
If you wish to rely on the platform forever to acquire clients, this is something you must be willing to accept and sacrifice to continue making money from them.
(3) Work Problems – Think you can evade all the work problems caused by customers and colleagues by going virtual? Not that easy because similar scenarios can also happen inside this so-called professional platform.
You can read all about them on Reddit, from disrespectful customers who don’t appreciate a designer’s effort to having your creative work being stolen by others. Of course, we can’t expect 99Designs to patrol everything but it sure reflects that you shouldn’t expect perfection from them either.
Is 99Designs Worth It for Designers?
Since skills vary between individuals, the only way to find out is to test the platform yourself. If your experience is a positive one, whether it’s building an impressive portfolio or generating an extra income stream, I don’t see any harm to continue using 99Designs.
However, if you feel that your work isn’t properly rewarded in terms of job satisfaction and income earning, then I think it’s better to invest your energy elsewhere. Perhaps it’s time to create an online presence for yourself – building your own brand and running it like a business, instead of just a service.
This comprehensive training platform will give you a good head start on how to go about marketing relevant products and services in your niche. Join for free and I’ll personally walk you through the process of building a successful online business.