99Designs: A Fun Way to Get Your Stuff Designed

August 26, 2011 · 11 comments

I tried 99Designs for the first time this week, and it’s going straight onto my hack list of awesome digital tools.

If you haven’t heard of 99Designs, it’s a site where you can launch a contest to design whatever you need — a website, banner for your site, logo, book cover, etc. You explain what you’re looking for, and designers create it. Lots of designers, so you have heaps of choices that are far more creative than what you could’ve come up with yourself. In the end, you choose a winner. You pay the site, and the site turns most of that money over to the winner of the contest.

Fun, right? Other sites offer this too, like CrowdSpring.

I’ve been dying to try it, and I need a design for a new online course I’m preparing to launch. So I figured this was the perfect opportunity!

The course is about how to use social media to Make Your Own Luck, a topic I write about a lot on this blog. I’ll tell you more as it gets closer to launch, but you’ll be able to sign up to get an email tip each day that will help you use social media strategically to build your network and make connections, with the goal of helping opportunities find you. A unique idea that deserves a unique design!

I paid $149 to launch the contest. That’s more than I’d normally pay for a button like this, but I wanted to 1. try out the system 2. get some ideas because I had no idea what I wanted the button to look like and 3. maybe discover a designer who could make buttons for me going forward.

So designers started creating the buttons, and as entries came in, I rated them, giving feedback to the designer about what I liked and didn’t like. This, in my mind, is the coolest part of the site, because after I gave feedback, the designer would come back with a tweaked button that hopefully was more in line with my tastes.

Can you see how awesome this would be if you wanted to create a cover for your self-published book or a new design for your blog or any other digital projects that need to look pretty?

Now I’m at the point where there are three designs I really like, and I need to choose one. 99Designs offers yet another cool feature, whereby I can let my friends vote!

Which button do you like?

Use Social Media to Make Your Own Luck


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures August 26, 2011 at 9:53 am

What a cool site! I think I like #1 best.


Alison August 26, 2011 at 9:56 am

I’ve been following your career transition and applaud you for it. I’ve recently done the same with leaving my position as VP, Product and Content for tokii.com to pursue my own creative interests. I have two sites now and used 48hourlogo.com to do a logo design for one of them. This site has a similar system to what you described above. I even reached out to the winning designer to make some changes after I’d received the original design files which was done with no further charge. I do recommend it as a resource to you and your readers. Good luck on your journey!


Alexis Grant August 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Cool! Good to know about another site. Thanks!


Keli Gwyn August 26, 2011 at 10:56 am

Sounds like a neat way to get designs. I vote for #1. I can read the title easily, and the Twitter bird immediately tells me this has something to with social media before I even read a word. The colors on #2 make it hard to read, and the words “Own Luck” are what I notice on #3, not the full title.
Keli Gwyn recently posted…9 Reasons to Attend Local Writers ConferencesMy Profile


Elise Daly Parker August 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Looking forward to the course!!


Alison August 26, 2011 at 12:06 pm

I haven’t sorted out all the issues for myself and figured out where I stand yet, but be aware that a lot of people consider crowdsourcing sites like 99designs to be exploitative and problematic for designers. Here’s a fairly nuanced take on why:


Alexis Grant August 26, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Thanks for sharing this, Alison! Good to know, and it adds another perspective to this discussion.


Bret Juliano August 26, 2011 at 3:26 pm

This is completely true. As one coming from the graphic design industry (I’m a web and graphic designer) this is considered spec-work or crowd-sourcing and many people in our profession don’t agree with this option. The main problems it creates is that it destroys the professional image of Graphic Designers in general and it also devalues the work of the graphic design trade.

On another note, #1 seems to be the best option. It’s graphic helps tie in the social media with the very reconizable twitter-esque bird.


Alexandra Rice August 26, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I agree with the others — #1 takes the cake!


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