Prepaid Contests Coming Soon!

September 26, 2008

There has been a hive of activity here at 99HQ! Based on feedback from you guys—and a lot of careful thought—we have decided to make all contests prepaid. We believe this will reduce risk for designers and make the contest payment process simpler for new-comers.

Starting early November, all contests will be prepaid. This means all contest prizes will be paid up-front (and held securely by us). Contest holders may still withdraw from prepaid contests and receive a refund (given a good reason). However, we believe proof of prize will give designers peace of mind, and will assist contest holders and designers alike by automating payments; as an extension of our Design Handover tool.

We’re making guaranteed contests a standard option, available to all, and will encourage more and more contest holders to guarantee their contests for the very best results. Guaranteed contests are prepaid, cannot be withdrawn/refunded and are always awarded (even if the contest holder disappears—more on this in a future blog post).

As part of the prepaid prize system, 99designs will be handling all payments to designers. We hope this will result in a more reliable, seamless service for designers and contest holders. We will be offering PayPal, Moneybookers, Xoom and our latest addition: Prepaid 99designs MasterCards® (powered by Payoneer).

Payoneer is a wide-reaching payment gateway offering a more secure and robust alternative to some other gateways we’ve dealt with (without mentioning names). Your Prepaid 99designs MasterCard will work anywhere credit or debit cards are accepted, making receiving prize money easier, regardless of where you live.

And, we’re holding we held a contest for you to design the cards! Enter now!

Update: Congratulations, Emi (ulahts)!

99designs Prepaid MasterCard® (powered by Payoneer)

Stay tuned for further updates.

The drinks are on us…

September 16, 2008

Exciting news! is now officially a sponsor of Web Directions South, a popular Web conference which is held in Sydney the last week of September every year. We’ll be picking up the bar tab on the final night party along with the guys at Gruden. Rest assured we’ll drink our fair share too!

I realize that most of you are not from this part of the world, but if you happen to be attending please come and say hello. And if you can’t be there, the next best thing is to help us design the drink cards.

There’s an iPod Touch (8GB) up for grabs, and bragging rights.

But hurry, this contest is fast tracked and ends in 2 days.

Update: And the winner is Ironmike with this design…

We’re delighted to announce that on Friday night took out the “Top Website Award” in the 2008 SmartCompany Awards which honors the fastest growing and most innovative companies of Australia in 2008.

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At this point in time there is over $90,000 USD in open prize money on 99designs. Around $13,000 USD of new cash is offered every day. This is not only a record for 99designs, we believe it’s a world record – we don’t know of any other site like anywhere that offers that kind of cashola to designers on a daily basis. That makes 99designs the #1 design contest marketplace on the Web. 

Why am I telling you this?

Well, if you’re going to invest your time building a profile on a site like (either as a client or a designer) you want to make sure you’re getting maximum bang for your buck – more clients means more opportunities for designers to win new business, and more designers means more choice for our clients. Everyone wins!

We get a lot of email from clients and designers encouraging us to keep up the great work. We often circulate these messages amongst the team — it gives us a real kick.  Here’s one we received earlier this week that really resonated with the team…

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Vote on Comments

September 5, 2008

Discussion in contests can at times get heated and often the really useful comments can get lost amongst the noise. We have talked about lots of different ways to add moderation around the site, and we keep coming back to the same idea, everyone should be moderators. As a first experimental step, we have added voting on comments.

You will notice a thumbs up and thumbs down button on comments. Everyone can vote on comments, either rating them as “good” or “poor”. When a comment reaches 5 down votes, it gets minimized. The one exception to this is Contest Holder comments can’t be hidden, but they can still be voted on.

We would love to hear what you guys think of this system. It’s really a bit of a social experiment, but we have high hopes!

One of the little known benefits of design contests is the ability for winning designers to pick up direct work from clients once a contest has been won. It makes sense when you think about it…

Run a logo contest to find yourself a designer, then rather than go through the whole design contest process again, simply ask the winning designer for a quote to do your business cards and stationary in a similar style.

Our top designers tell us that as many as 25% of all contests they win result in future work. Andrew Angus from who runs several design contests through said for him it’s as high as 50%.

Andrew has documented his recent experience with a design contest in this video which shows the great result he achieved with a $220 prize offered on plus $1,000 of follow on work for the winning designer. Check it out!