99Designs Contest & What Not To Do 1

99designscontest blog image


You may be wondering how to run a 99Designs contest of your own. I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you how I screwed up my contest and give you some advice so you can avoid the same mistakes. I did nearly everything wrong; learn from me.im-terrible-at-following-directions-91490

I chose the Logo & Business Card package because:

  • It was cheap (mistake)
  • I didn’t know how to use the website and wanted to start simple (mistake)
  • Also, obviously, because I only needed a logo and business card (partially a mistake)

For my first 99Designs contest, I chose the Bronze level package because it was cheap. Don’t do this. Go for the Gold package that includes the designated account manager. You’ll learn from the people who know best about how to manage your projects from the start, instead of guessing and screwing everything up like I did. The Gold package for the logo-only contest is $799. If I had a do-over this is what I would’ve done and then had my business card printer turn my logo into a business card design. They charge me like $30 to do this.

If you don’t go for a Gold package, at least go for a more expensive product bundle (like the Brand Identity Pack) at the Bronze level ($599). The reward for the designer is higher relative to the amount of work. Think about it: What is a letterhead design? Your logo plus your contact information. What is an envelope design? Your logo formatted on an envelope. The designer doesn’t have a lot of extra work to create these deliverables, but has a larger prize anyway, because the package costs more than a basic package at the bronze level. Choose this level even if you don’t need an envelope or letterhead designed.

Or you could do exactly what I did: Bronze level on a Logo & Business card contest and get a perfectly acceptable logo, thanks to customer support. But here are a couple suggestions for not screwing it up:

I ended the final round 2 days early. Don’t. My designer rightfully assumed the project was over, uploaded the existing design files, and then disappeared. You should wait to award the design winner when you’re 100% happy with the result.

Don’t hire someone you have trouble communicating with. I made this mistake and ended up having to contact support multiple times. Thankfully, customer support is really stellar and solved my issues within a day or so. But if you want smooth sailing, go with someone who speaks your language (or speaks it well enough).

Don’t get discouraged! The first day of the contest is like being a woman on OKCupid. I got the impression the designers didn’t read the brief, and then expended no effort at all on being unique or creative. They were hoping I’d think to myself “Good enough” and go with their designs. As with OKCupid, a lot of patience, a little clear communication, and a persistence for wading through crap pays off in the end.

Thanks for reading, and I hope I’ve saved someone the heartache and frustration.

After completing my design contest, 99Designs emailed me a referral code offering a free $99 upgrade for new users towards their first design contest. In the interest of transparency, I’ll get a $50 credit for each new referral that launches a contest.


Want to leave a comment? I’d love to hear from others who have used this 99Designs or another design site and their experiences, or from designers themselves and their experiences from the other side of the screen!

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One thought on “99Designs Contest & What Not To Do

  • T-ma in 807

    First of all, although as you know I had a strong opinion on your logo, this is the first time I have actually seen your website. And it looks great!!!

    However I outsourced an ENTIRE corporate identity project for $600. That means – choosing the right colors (several complete with color codes – and color theory), fonts (and when to use one of the two based on size, purpose, etc),, templates for every thing: word, ppt, letter head, business cards, 20 icons in 3 colors, what to look for in stock photos, etc etc – not only the templates yet also the corporate ID completely documented.This has been very important for the business because it makes it a “no-brainer”. (Don’t use grey if you want someone to take an action, use one of the approved blue shades if the message is trust, use one of the approved red shades if you want someone to take action…etc )

    However site looks great and and as I told Chase tonight I love your “You’ll have more time to focus on your core business” message because that is a mantra for me.