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99designs From the Top Designers’ Perspectives

by Jeremy Schoemaker on May 8, 2012 · 28 comments

We have had over 10 logos made in the last year from crowdsourcing websites like 99designs.

Here are 2 that we have had done in the last 6 months:

The first one is for a new property we have that has pools on everything from MMA to Nascar to TV shows, and lots of other stuff.  You complete an offer to enter the pool and recieve gift cards and other stuff if you win or place high.

The website is called Offer Pools.

Here is the logo they made for it:

The other design we had made a few months back was for our new Par Program. This stands for People Acquisition and Retention.

This company is focused on companies doing 5+ million a year in gross revenue and have their own products or services. (BTW, if you know any good account managers we need to hire 3-4 to keep up with the demand).

We needed a sleeker, simple, corporate design for this logo. Here is the one we choose and are going with on the site.

My experience has been really awesome.

But thats what everyone says, right?  What about from the designers perspective?

So I reached out to the top designers at 99designs and asked them the following questions:

  • Hi what is your name?
  • For our readers, can you tell us briefly about yourself? (please keep short as possible).
  • How did you discover 99designs and crowdsourcing?
  • How much have you made to date?  How much were you making before doing designs?
  • How do you feel sites like 99designs have changed the graphic design industry?
  • Can you give us the url to your portfolio?
  • Any leaving thoughts?
And here was their answers:

Hi! I’m Shana Cinquegrana (aka: Shanashay). I am currently a full time mommy/artist, but before my daughter was born I was a bartender/artist living in New York City.  I grew up in Minnesota, but came to NY to study fashion design at FIT.  I lived the “artist” life and enjoyed pockets of success showing and selling my paintings in bars/restaurants and in the city for over 10 years, but when Dave and I got pregnant everything had to change.

I needed to find a way to bring in some money, but even more than that, I needed a creative outlet.  The abrupt change in lifestyle brought on by motherhood was challenging, to say the least.  I stumbled across 99designs during one of my many fruitless Craigslist job searches where the only available positions were for non-paying interns. Browsing contests and eventually entering in them became an immediate addiction.  My focus was always fashion illustration, but certain contests were just too fun to pass on, so I got involved.  This forced me to get a real grip on Adobe Illustrator, too.  I had been playing with it for a few years, but really had no clue what I was doing until my crash course in graphic design via 99designs contests, then I began to win and make money.  I have found my niche entering design contests geared toward fashion, beauty, women, and children.

Before 99designs, my income was a reasonably steady flow of cash from bartending.  I lived comfortably enough to enjoy myself, but I really don’t know what I made. Selling paintings supplemented my income. Now I make more than I ever did as a bartender and I no longer have to rely on the service industry to sustain my lifestyle.  I only enter the contests that interest me, so it never feels like work.

I can’t really speak for the graphic design industry because I wasn’t ever employed by it.  I am well aware of those who say crowdsourcing has damaged the industry, and in all fairness I’m sure for some people it has.  My experience, however, has been extremely positive.  The competitive environment fuels me.  Dealing with contest holders and trying to accommodate their wishes while staying true to my own vision has made me a better artist and businesswoman.  I have clients from all over the world now, many of whom refer me to their friends. I am busy. I am happy. I make good money and I have 99designs to thank for that. The cherry on top is that I get to be a full-time mom while I design from home.  Interestingly, the bulk of my wins have come from entrepreneur moms or career women starting their own businesses trying to get ahead in this scary economy.

My website is www.shanashay.com

Even if I got some fabulous job offer (which I would take, by the way, once my baby starts school in the fall), I wouldn’t stop entering 99designs contests.  I love the competition. It is fun.  I have met so many brilliant artists who inspire me, and I love belonging to a growing global community of designers.  I feel connected to a movement and empowered by my freedom to participate in it on my own time.

Shana Cinquegrana
http://99designs.com/people/shanashay

My name is Branko Loncar.  In the design world, I’m also known as Ludibes.  I’m a bit over 30 years old and living in Serbia/Europe. I’m happily married and blessed with an energetic son.  Though I started as an unschooled amateur with design, I managed to build my own style and now I work for several design agencies around the world as a full-time professional designer.

I was introduced to 99designs by a friend two years ago.  At first I was just learning, but everything changed after I won for the first time.  No wonder 99designs has been the most visited site in my browser ever since. :)

Lets say I have a decent life here in Serbia thanks to 99designs and clients I meet there.  My average monthly earnings here are equal to one logo contest prize. ;)

Like every revolutionary change, there are good and bad aspects for sure, depending on who’s judging. Personally, 99designs was my school, workplace, and playground, opening many possibilities in life. Of course, clients benefit too. For less money they can expect much much more than they used to when hiring one agency.

Here is the url to my page: www.ludibes.com/work

Branko Loncar
http://99designs.com/people/ludibes

My name is Alex (Aleksandra) Bilusic.  I’m a 30 year old designer living in Zagreb, Croatia.  I have an MA in Graphic Design and Visual Communications and have gained professional experience working at design studios and advertising agencies.  I have worked as an independent graphic designer for the last 3 years.

Google is my friend. :)  I was curious if there was a way to get new clients when I quit my last job.  I lurked at various design crowdsourcing sites and job advertising boards and tried out a few of them.  After a while, I decided to stick to 99designs because their system fits my preferences best.

I rather wouldn’t talk about precise figures now, but I make as much (or more) now as a freelancer than I was making before when I was employed as a designer and later as an art director.  What is most important here is the follow-up work from clients whom I have met through 99designs site. They are satisfied with our collaboration and communication during their design contests so they keep coming back to me whenever they need anything else designed.  I have established successful business relationships with them so I do have continuous work.  Shortly: with the current economic situation in my country, I am continuously making more than the average salary here in Croatia.

This is the never-ending story about “no-spec work” with solid arguments pro et contra, but the existence and expansion of such sites has definitely changed the industry a lot.  Personally, I find those changes welcome in many ways since now everyone in the industry has to work harder.  The “big guys” need to keep their clients as those clients have the opportunity to get the same work done faster and cheaper with no loss in quality – which eventually leads to better design.  The other thing is that without such sites I would probably never meet clients from the USA, UK, Australia, etc. since chances that we would just accidentally bump into each other on the internet are very poor.  So in my situation, as it is now, I strongly believe that such sites are way more on the bright side.  As I keep the same professional and ethical standards whoever I work for (or work with), this is a great deal for me both professionally and privately.

Yes, such sites are making huge figures – but hey, they are not Good Samaritans and they do a job just like anyone else; and we can always choose to participate or not.  I have only benefited from their existence, so I believe there is much more on the positive side of the story.  Speaking of 99designs, there is always room for improvement but they keep listening to what their users have to say and it is a hard job to keep both the client and the designer happy.  There are also negative things about crowdsourcing sites but the positive ones outweigh them, at least from where I stand and they are (or should be!) constantly improving.

Here is the url to my website: http://www.alexbilusic.com

Aleksandra Bilusic
http://99designs.com/people/alexbilusic

 

My name is Najla Mansour (RotRed).  I am an architect from Homs, Syria.  I am now living in Newcastle, England, doing my masters degree program at Newcastle University in Architecture and Planning Design.

Back in 2009, while I was doing my graduation project, I wanted to see if there was any opportunism to find a graphic design jobs online.  I searched the internet and found some crowdsourcing websites, but 99designs was much more comfortable for me since it posts money via Western Union and it doesn’t ask for a PayPal account when you join.  For anyone who is living in those countries where we are not allowed to get a PayPal or MoneyBookers, the idea of having the money via the Western Union was just perfect!  I wanted to try it out so I won the 9th contest I entered!  After that, I stopped until I graduated and started in a more serious way at the beginning of 2010.

In two years I have made up to $20,000 from 99designs contests and logo store (together) and some more from freelancing jobs that came through seeing my portfolio in 99designs or continued jobs with the same clients after winning their contests.  Before that, I was teaching architectural design at the University of Homs getting paid $350 a month (which was good for the rates in my country).

These sites have changed the industry in a global way.  In one hand, all designers around the world could meet and compete against each other. On the other hand, people could just go and see millions of designs produced by different people from different countries and get a much bigger opportunity to get exactly what they are looking for, not just from one company or one designer.

Here is my contest url: http://99designs.co.uk/people/najla
Here is my logostore url: http://99designs.co.uk/logo-design/store/search?q=@designer%20RotRed

Najla Mansour
http://99designs.com/people/najla

 

I would like to thank each of these designers for letting us in from their perspective ;)

full disclosure

About the author...

– who has written 2895 posts on ShoeMoney.com.

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of the ShoeMoney Blog, Elite Retreat Internet Conference, & the PAR Program. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 Amazon Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. Jeremy currently lives in Lincoln Nebraska with his wife and 2 daughters.


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{ 21 comments }

1 Jan

Wow, didn’t think that the designers like sites such as 99designs so much. but probably it’s just because you picked the “top designers”. They win a lot of contests und earn good money. If you don’t belong to the best you probably not so happy. And it’s interessting that most of the top designers are from foreign countys…

2 Edgar

as a buyer point of view. I wont spend much on a logo. I have gotten some great logos from fiverr com
and most of the sellers will redeassign the logo if your not happy… plus is only 5 bucks… you can go wrong

3 Edgar

Jeremy,

FYI
when I visited your offer pool leader board and click on a user name to view there profile the links are broken.

I get this message “The requested URL /user/gartman79 was not found on this server.”

4 Jeremy Schoemaker

Yup still in beta. Thanks though I will pass that along.

5 Tegs

Interesting,

Its pretty cool to read some of the stories behind the designers. I’ve used fiverr as well, but I guess you really do get what you pay for.

6 Frank Müller

as a buyer point of view. I wont spend much on a logo. I have gotten some great logos from fiverr com
and most of the sellers will redeassign the logo if your not happy… plus is only 5 bucks… you can go wrong

7 Rich

I’ve never heard of this service before, but in the past have used fiverr and the warrior forum to hire good graphics guys. And to this point I’ve never been disappointed…

8 david

Hi Jeremy, I thought I had hear of 99designs before but it sounds like I was wrong after reading your post.

This sounds like a fantastic opportunity for a good artist to make a name for himself and get a steady flow of clients.

The only qualification, as it sounds, is that you have to be good – really good to beat out the competition.

Thanks for turning us on to 99Designs.

9 Graham

I’m wondering if Nebraska has Laws similar to Texas with regard to Gaming and Gambling.

The 10 competitions you organized offered a prize in excess of $50? If so they are not considered under the law to be sweepstakes and I’m guessing you’re not a a non-profit or a State run lottery (which probably fortunate since Federal Law prohibits the promotions & advertisement of lotteries in interstate commerce)

SO ….My question is did you fully comply with your State Gambling Laws when organizing your gaming for profit? – Its your responsibility to follow these Laws as you are the organizer not 99designs

What do think would happen if a bored lawyer in the State Attorneys office decided that it would be a good idea to enforce something simple – just to remind people that the Law exists – Something like the requirement to inform all competitors of your full name and address.

Stuff like this doesn’t happen I hear you say – Well it is unlikely – about as unlikely as a guy in Laredo being slapped with $5000 fine for organizing a competition at his place of work!!

10 Graham

See what lawyer Perry Atfab has to say about online competitions
“Most web operators don’t realize that there are laws that apply to even the most innocuous contest”

read more http://www.aftab.com/

11 Melvin

I just thought that you doing this is very generous. Getting featured on a blog like shoemoney means a lot.

Shoemoney 12 Anonymous

Thanks for your great post!

Doesnt surprise me at all that these designers like the platform. I only have experience with a similar one (called http://www.designonclick.com).
I think the basic motto is: If you like it -> participate,
if not -> then just keep doing your thing

13 Mike Benton

I have had great experiences with 99designs. They always deliver a good variety of options, and there are always a few in the bunch who are really talented. I’m glad you gave these designers such great exposure-they deserve it.

14 Annie

I think it is nice that you posted “from the designer’s view”.
Working for a logo design contest site (Hatchwise), I get to be in contact with many designers everyday, and I can say that as you get to know and interact with each one, it is a pleasure.

15 Johan

Johan:
Working as an Art Director I think it’s unfortunate that people use this kind of service. I’ve made several logos at 99designs a few years ago but eventually realized I was working for free. You have to enter a LOT of competitions to have a chance of winning and you have to expect that other designers copy your ideas. Not a very creative context.
This has nothing to do with beeing unhappy with the results there, I have won and been getting great feedback from designers and clients but sadly this is the kind of situation where the Internet shows it’s worst side and bites you in the ass…
I have a lot of work from this period which I’m happy about but it still isn’t a very friendly idea.

16 Stephanie

It would be interesting to see an industry-respected top designer asked these same questions (designers that don’t “work” for crowdsourcing operations); I suspect their answers would be radically different..

17 NeoPixelStudio.com

Keep jobs in America. Hire locally! If not, you’ll only be hurting your self in the long run. Just look at all the lost manufacturing jobs to China and the poor economy we have in the US. Yeah it costs less to buy services outside the US, but now unemployment is at a whopping 9% and 1 in 4 people are on food-stamps.

18 David

Having had an amateur and admittedly self-educated interest in design for years, “professional” design seems to be being increasingly executed for designers designing for other designers rather than for the client or public. This is a hazard of any profession moving to hermetic, inward looking practices – look at the way things like city planning and economics have gone.

Design-by-tender by sites like 99 designs removes professional barriers to exposure to design ideas and will introduce new blood and expertise – there are some very talented non-professionals out there. Where the bigger firms win is with ongoing support and depth – but if they can’t provide that, or you simply don’t need it (like with say a new logo) you do have to begin to look askance at their value proposition.

19 Ross

For the savvy internet user it is obvious that this review is not objective and the way it is written smells like paid advertising.
Reading the input from the designers give the impression that they are doing very well financially on 99.
Well, everyone can check the real story by clicking on the links to the profiles of these designers on 99 and see the number of wins, competition entered, and price.

Shana Cinquegrana says “Now I make more than I ever did”. Let’s see how much that really is.
As of January 9 2013 she has been making logos for 3 years at 99, won 157 and entered 749 contests and got paid about $250 per winning logos. This is less than $45 per each contest entered. Also looking at her participation she makes on average about 5 logo versions for each contest which makes about $9 per each logo made. Assuming that she is the fastest artist in the world and makes a logo version in about 2 hours, this is about $4.50 per hour but being a professional designer myself I know how long it takes and suspect that she makes much less than that.
We can also see how busy she is. 749 contests each with about 5 logo versions is 3745 logos. Again assuming she is the fasted artist in the world and makes a logo version in 2 hours which is very unlikely, means that she spent at best about 7500 hours which in 3 years is daily average of 7 hours to make about $30.

Regarding designers, the math says completely different story than this review, about one of the best designers at 99.

And regarding clients, there are other more objective reviews out there that show not everything at 99 is that great.

Shana Cinquegrana says “Now I make more than I ever did”. Let’s see how much that really is. As of January 9 2013 she has been making logos for 3 years at 99, won 157 and entered 749 contests and got paid about $250 per winning logos. This is less than $45 per each contest entered. Also looking at her participation she makes on average about 5 logo versions for each contest which makes about $9 per logo. Assuming that she is the fastest artist in the world and makes a logo version in about 2 hours, this is about $4.50 per hour but being a professional designer myself I know how long it takes and suspect that she makes much less than that. We can also see how busy she was. 749 contests each with about 5 logo versions is 3745 logos. Again assuming she is the fasted artist in the world and makes a logo version in 2 hours which is very unlikely, means that she spent at best about 7500 hours which in 3 years is working per day 7 hours to make about $30.

The math says completely different story than this review, and this is one of the best designers at 99.

20 Mike

99d does this, they do that, they are, they blabla, they blabla. They DO SH*T and they always win! Designers DO everything and win sh*t. Yeey!
Hiring a pro designer it`s the real deal, and you get the same high quality + a note of personal touch and involvement most likley at a better price. The same so

talented designer who makes your logo on 99 it`s the same so talnted outside of 99d. 99d doesn`t give steroids to designers. But they do align them in front of the

client like soldiers in front of a general. That is a mistake. People start dehumaninzing and all they see is numbers, CH, prize, entries and not people.

They changed people/clients perception. People used to have big respect for talented people cause they are not that many (that including all our kids till age 11, they

are all so smart and beautiful and talented… don`t know at what yet, but they are ;) Not anyone can do it, not anyone can imagine things directly on paper. Most

can`t imagine things in their own head. Those xy thousands designers signed up in z countries are just numbers.
Now, clients are like: ” Whatever, some designer will spend 3-5 hours for me, FREE, anyway and I`ll just open another contest if I don`t like one line. But the concept

is good though, 4 stars for that, good boy, i`ll just use it in the next brief and of course get someone else to do it right.” You do feel a bit like a Pharaoh when 30

people work for you free. “But I paid $300 to 99d”. Well 99d won`t draw a line for you and $300 won`t pay 30 people even in the poorest corner of the world. We need to

start changing some mentality, cause this has gone really bad.

21 99Slaves

99designs model is brilliant. Next time I am going out to eat I am going to ask each chef at the restaurant to provide me with their specialty dish, sample everything and only pay for the one I like! Pure genius! Why would anyone ever expect to be paid for the work they do? People should only be paid if they are best of the hundreds competing for my business!

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