One of the biggest struggles for many freelance graphic designers is consistently finding clients. 99designs gives freelancers a safe and secure platform to showcase their talent, find income opportunities, and build a reliable network.
How much can you make working for 99designs? For freelancers, this depends on the rates you set for every project. With 99designs, you have complete control of your rates and which projects you accept. Whether you are a web and app designer, a logo designer, or a package design expert, you have the freedom to choose only the projects that make you happy.
In this article, you will get a glimpse of how 99designs works, how it benefits freelance graphic designers, and receive tips on how to start working as a freelancer.
What Is 99designs?
99designs by Vista is a creative platform where freelance graphic designers can showcase their talents and find clients for a variety of projects. The Australian company has a global community of graphic designers that have created more than one million projects for various clients.
The platform allows freelancers to concentrate on their craft instead of wasting time on marketing and looking for clients. For someone interested in freelance work, 99designs acts as a middleman that can significantly reduce stress for freelance designers worried about having enough work.
How Does 99designs Work?
Graphic designers can sign up for free on the 99designs website. You can create a designer profile to showcase your work and favorite designs. Within the platform, clients can find you using different filters.
Clients can contact you directly for projects. Designers who choose to work directly with a client can charge their own rates. Top-level designers have the option to create custom services packages and get higher search visibility.
If you’re in between clients, you can join a design competition to upgrade your skills, gain monetary rewards, and earn prestige in the community. The design contests are helpful for clients who have a particular design concept in mind but want to have different layouts to choose from.
Designers have various contests to access depending on their levels. Entry-level designers can join the bronze and silver contest packages, while mid to top-level designers can access the gold, platinum, and customized contest packages with a higher payout.
How Much Can You Actually Make on 99designs?
The rates and rewards per project will depend on the complexity and type of design work. If a client hires you directly, you have the option to set a rate for the services you will render. You can set your price based on industry standards or ask for a higher rate if the design is complicated.
For design contests, clients pay between $299 and $1,299, depending on the contest package. You can win a big percentage of the package price if your entry wins. If you do not win the contest, you still gain the full copyright of your design and can customize it for future clients.
Be wary of fees. Since you are using the services of an online marketing platform, 99designs will automatically deduct a fee from your earnings. This fee is to pay for site maintenance, client support, designer support, and logistics.
There is also a 20 percent client introduction fee for the first $500 of your earnings. However, they will waive this if you bring a client to the platform. The one-to-one option comes with a 15 percent fee for your earnings if you’re entry-level, 10 percent for mid-level, and five percent for top-level designers.
The Pros and Cons of Working on 99design
Using a freelancing platform has both pros and cons. Whether it will be beneficial for your career or not depends on whether you are looking for job security from long-term employment or if you thrive better in the self-motivated and less restricting environment that freelancing offers. Below are some points that can help you decide if 99designs is the best platform for you.
Pros of Working on 99design
- Less effort to look for clients. Thinking of where to find your next project is one of the most stressful aspects of freelance work. With 99designs, you have a platform to market yourself to brands and business owners specifically looking for graphic artists.
- Workload control. Freelancing allows you to work as much or as little as you want. 99designs allows you the freedom to have an online client while working on other projects on the side.
- Remote work. Enjoy the freedom of working remotely anywhere through the 99designs platform. You don’t need to dress up for meetings to meet clients. Simply go to your account, and all transactions and communications are available within the website.
- No credentials are required. Even if you are a self-taught graphic artist, you can still be a part of 99designs. You don’t need to have academic credentials or provide previous work experience to make use of the platform. 99designs is a skills-based platform and your goal is to become a top-level designer.
- Higher profits. 99designs allows you to charge your desired rate based on your efforts and self-worth as you see fit.
Cons of Working on 99design
- Communication difficulties. 99designs is a global platform and sometimes it is difficult to get your message across to foreign-speaking clients. Even if the client can speak English, it is easy to misinterpret messages.
- Design effort. 99designs uses a design contest marketplace approach, which benefits clients but it can lead to designers wasting time if they don’t win the contest. On the other hand, you can take it as a training opportunity to improve your design process and skills.
- Stiff competition. There are a lot of talented graphic designers around the world and you will have to compete with them during contests. If you are an entry-level designer on the platform, it can be a struggle at the beginning to attract clients because they often prefer experts in the field.
- The waiting game. Unless you get an invite for a project, the idle time in between can be distressing. However, you can use this time to level up your skills through online courses or join available contests on the platform.
- Transaction fees. The 20 percent client introduction fee and the 15 percent platform fee that 99designs charges are quite high. Fortunately, the introduction fee is just a one-time deduction, and your fee can be reduced to five percent when you reach the top level.
How to Become a 99designs Graphic Designer
It’s easy to sign up as a designer on the website and it only takes a minute. However, every application goes through the Designer Curation Team, which reviews applications based on experience and skills. Below are the steps you will go through when you sign up as a 99designs graphic designer.
1. Sign up as a designer
On the signup page, tick the box that says you’re signing up as a freelance designer. Provide your email address and a password to register. Complete the application process and wait for an email notification you should receive within seven days. If your application is denied, you can apply again, but not more than twice.
2. Verification process
99designs is a safe and professional marketing platform, so all registered designers must submit a valid ID for verification. All new designers interested in joining a contest are required to submit a verification ID before entry. Likewise, if you are already a professional designer, you will be asked to submit an ID on your first payout on the platform.
99designs strives to maintain a professional and safe community for both designers and clients, and the ID is just one way to ensure all transactions are with legitimate individuals.
3. Next steps after approval
Upon your approval as a designer, they will assign you a level based on your experience. You can be an entry-level, mid-level, or top-level designer. Higher-level designers enjoy benefits such as lower platform fees, faster payouts, higher prize money in contests, and more visibility for clients.
How to Make More Money on 99designs
99designs is a great platform to make some serious extra cash. There are two ways to earn: through direct projects with clients or by joining contests. There are also more ways to maximize the platform and make more money. Below are some tips you can follow to enhance your profile, optimize your performance, and find more projects.
Follow up with clients for more projects after winning a contest
After winning a contest, you can follow up with the client for additional work. Have your profile updated so they can see your work and connect with you for their upcoming projects. You can also offer other design services and work with them on a one-on-one basis.
Use the email invitation feature
99designs will deduct 20 percent or a maximum of $100 on your first $500 worth of combined invoices, but you can have this fee waived if you use the email invitation feature. With this feature, you can invite your existing clients to the 99designs platform.
Join a contest in the right design category
There are 1,500 contests in various categories across the platform. Join a contest in a category that suits your skills with the least number of participants to increase your chances of winning. If you are a mid to top-level designer, you have the privilege of entering unlimited public or private contests.
Aim for top-level status to enjoy bigger rewards
Being a top-level designer gives you prestige in the community and gives you more cash rewards and benefits. For instance, as a top-level designer, your fees are reduced to five percent, you get hand-picked for contests, and earn 15 percent of the total prize for your non-winning entries.
Sell your non-winning contest designs
You can enter contests and create unique designs. Even if your work doesn’t get picked, you still retain the copyright of your unsold work and can sell it on other platforms. You can add your work to your portfolio and make it visible to other prospective clients.
Is Working on 99designs Worth It?
Working on 99designs is worth it if you reach top-level status. As a top performer, you get higher payments with smaller fees. Being a part of a community of thousands of designers and gaining prestigious top-level status can give clients more confidence when hiring you.
Making Money on 99designs FAQ
Can you make a living on 99designs?
Yes, you can make a living on 99designs. You can set your rates and work directly with clients. On 99designs, you compete with the community by joining contests to earn money. There are multiple ways to make money on 99designs and you’ll never have an idle day if you know your way around the site. Working for 99designs can also lead to opportunities for more freelance work outside of the website.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
How do I become a mid-level designer?
You can become a mid-level designer by delivering top-notch designs, showing advanced technical skills, and receiving good reviews from satisfied clients. You can apply for a level review every six months, and a team will review your profile to see if you are eligible for an upgrade. As a mid-level designer, you can enjoy better profile visibility, join unlimited contests, with higher prize categories, and reduce your transaction fees to 10 percent.
How do I become a top-level designer?
To become a top-level designer, you need to deliver top-notch conceptual designs and technical execution. The team reviews profiles every six months to see who is eligible for promotion to the top-level tier.
Is 99designs legit?
99designs is a legitimate company that was founded in 2008 in Melbourne, Australia. They have a pool of designers from around the world that have earned over $250 million. If you search online, there are articles written about the company on trusted sites such as Business Insider, Bloomberg, and CNBC.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.