For a recent side project, I used 99designs.com to create some custom cushion designs. I came away impressed with the service, and here’s five tips on getting the most out of crowdsourcing / 99designs.com
Think about how you categorise your competition -
I happened to be running a competition to design cushion cases. So the closest category I could find was Clothing & Merchandise > Other. Maybe not the sexiest category! I might have got alot more visibility (and entrants) had I advertised under t-shirts (exactly the same skill set required), or simply graphic design.
Think about how you describe your competition -
In the title of my competition, I asked for people who “love typography”. So what I ended up with was alot of letterpress typography designs. In retrospect, perhaps I should have asked for people to interpret a quote. That way I might have got illustrations as well as fancy fonts.
Be a great communicator –
It’s critical to providing excellent feedback. I rated every single design and commented on nearly all of them. Designers appreciate feedback and you end up iterating much faster, maximising the chances you get to a design you love. Even time spent commenting on a design that you know you won’t choose isn’t wasted as other designers can learn from that feedback.
Comment publicly –
At first, I corresponded directly with individual designers. Whilst this was great, I found I would end up writing the same feedback for multiple designers. Posting comments publicly saved time and ensured an even playing field.
Be open minded –
Getting a design that wasn’t what you’re expecting, but you ended up loving was a real treat.
A note on exploitation –
Crowdsourced design sites like 99designs.com and designcrowd.com.au have been getting a bit of flack lately from design professionals. Basically, some of them feel that the cheap prices hurts the industry and devalues “good” design.
Here’s my experience.
It cost me $150. I received 85 entries. Of which, say 15 were duplicates (same design in different colours). So dividing the cost by the remainder of the designs, that works out to $2.14 per design. Assuming each design took on average an hour (which seems fair, I had some beautiful hand drawn entries which would have taken hours, as well as some slapped together photoshop jobs). That works out to just over $2 per hour, which is obviously not great.
The winner though, gets everything. So he / she has earned $150 for one or two hours work, which is pretty good (Aussie dollar being what it is and all).
So if I was a designer, would I use 99designs? I think if I needed to build a portfolio, or I was between higher paying jobs then sure. I’d probably be really picky about which contests I entered though, and I’d probably wait till the last day before submitting, so that I can learn from feedback without spending my time.
As a contest holder, would I use 99designs again? For the right project, definitely. It was cheap, I got great results and it was fun.