Increasing Prize Amounts for Designers!

October 16, 2008

We’ve been thinking long and hard about how we can drive prize amounts up over time for the benefit of all designers.  Obviously there needs to be a tangible reason for contest holders to spend more money on prizes, and it needs to be something that they can easily understand.  Enter our idea…

The idea we’ve come up with is to provide more visibility for the higher priced contests. More visibility will result in more entries and therefore more choice for the contest holder. That’s something that they will not only understand, they will pay more for.

The way we plan to achieve that is to re-order the category page lists (e.g. logo design, webpage design, etc.) by highest prize first through to lowest prize last rather than newest contest through to oldest. In a nut shell, now the more a contest holder offers as a prize the longer their contest will appear in the spot light. 

We’ve gone ahead and implemented this change across all category pages. Designers who don’t wish to view the list of contests ordered this way can simply re-order the list by clicking the column headings.

The main contest page which lists all contests across all cateories will still be ordered as is it is now, newest listing at the top though to oldest. The reason we didn’t change that page is because it would give an unfair advantage to contests for webpages which are higher priced than logos.

At the same time, we’ve also increased the prize minimums slightly. Let’s see how this plays out, we’ll be watching the stats closely, and hoping it makes you all more money!

38 Responses to “Increasing Prize Amounts for Designers!”

  1. Salafi Says:

    nc idea

    i noticed it but i thought it was a bug or something

    but really it is a good idea

  2. Gandecruz Says:

    hmm.. no wonder when i click “find contest” it’s always like some “error” occured. but after reading this “excellent ideas” suddenly it is alright now.. hehehe.. thanks 99designs team.

  3. C.C. Says:

    It is a great idea increasing the prize but I still think is a little bit low.

  4. evoke Says:

    Please make an option of somehow marking the contests which we have already once opened, the way it is now, I only wander from one contest to another and it’s chaotic I don’t know what is where.

  5. evoke Says:

    I think it’s good to add in filters the following: sort by date, sort by number of entries.

  6. squarelogo Says:

    I like the changes, thank you!

    One suggestion now that the contests are no longer in order by date, add an icon next to the end date so that we can quickly determine at a glance which contests may be ending soon. Something like…

    Green Light: More than 2 days remaining.
    Yellow Light: 1-2 days remaining.
    Red Light: 1 Day or less remaining.

  7. marcus Says:

    Well… i think driving the idea that you have to pay more for a logo to get better logos will drive away smaller business with a fixed budget. And There for drive away income for 99designs.

    As Far as the organization of the contests..i like the changes

    THANKS 99-DESIGNS TEAM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. voxsix Says:

    Red, yellow, green..there’s no need for street lights. All that’s necessary is to have ‘sort by date’ option in the filters cause this is really chaotic. In order to reach the last page of contests, I need to click 14 times ‘next’ cause there’s no ‘last’ button either as it’s usual everywhere. No indication that you have once clicked the link and opened a particular contest.

  9. Inspiredgs Says:

    Nice Idea…

    It would be great if there could somehow be a payment method filter, filter contest that offer all payment methods, only paypal, or other options such as moneybookers or W.U. This would make a search for contest more easier.

    Thanks 99 design team!!!!!!

  10. voxsix Says:

    Ok guys, I got it now. You can click on Contest Holder ,Created, Ends, Entries, Prize and it lines the contests up and down, for all the guys confused as me, I hand over to you the grand secret.

  11. Ten Dimes Says:

    I still think that web site designs should start at a minimum of $350.

  12. evileyestudio Says:

    completely agree with Ten Dimes and Inspiredgs

  13. Brandon Vaughn Says:

    I agree with Ten Dimes on the web design price…

    Sweet, that is how I sorted anyways, save me step…

  14. The average prize for a web page design offered on is actually $581 which isn’t too bad at all IMO.

  15. nadia Says:

    Not sure how the $581 average is calculated,(over how many contests, are abandoned contests included etc)

    I don’t think designers care what the average is in all honesty :-) what they want is an increase to the minimum rate for web design contests. $350 is a good starting point :-)

    I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice that over the last few months, a majority of web page design contests are only offering the minimum of $250. Not only are they offering the minimum, they are also asking for a lot more in the brief and often for more than one page.

    Looking at the contest list, a majority of the $250 prized contests barely get a submission or two these days and there has to be a reason for this. (Designer boycotte maybe?)

    Yes, there has also been an increase in some of the contests as far as prize money goes, but designers are wary of entering those due to the abandonment rate (unless of course the contest is guaranteed).

    If it were put to a vote, I’d say that the majority of designers here would vote for an increase in prize money, which in turn would see an increase in the participation rate in those contests.

    $350 is still below the general market value so I can’t see why contest holders would baulk at paying that amount….. As you know I’ve been here quite a while and the number of designers and the quality of entries has increased considerably and contest holders should be willing to pay for that quality… $250 just doesn’t cut it any more :-)

  16. hustlerdog Says:

    It is a great idea increasing the minimum prize on the design category..

  17. kiyas Says:

    Nice idea, these gone encourage all designers to submit more designs

    Thanking to 99desings


  18. bteves Says:

    I have to agree with Nadia. I think upping the starting web design prize to $350 is great idea and will only help increase participation levels as well as the quality of entries. As I see it now, contests starting at $250 are not worth my time nor my creative energy.

    And as Nadia stated above, a lot of these contests are asking for multiple pages and even coding (Another topic that needs addressing as well, but I’ll save that for another time :)

    I get very discouraged when I see a CH ask so much from designers yet refuse to compensate them for what they’re asking. In some cases, they want everything for nothing. As I see it, contest holders should be coming to 99designs for the diversity and quality it has to offer, not because it’s cheap.

  19. I hear what you’re saying about the min prize for webpages, but the thing to keep in mind is we want to let the market decide what a fair price to pay is, and let designers decide what a fair price to work for is, rather than us try to force it.

    So for example, if you don’t think a $250 webpage is worth your time the best thing to do is not enter that contest. Leave the cheap contests for the designers who are happy to do the work for that price. If nobody thinks it’s worth their time contest holders will soon get the idea. That’s the market working itself out based on the choices of both sides.

    But what we don’t want to do is price contest holders out of the market, or worse still assume that we know what’s best for all designers when it comes to price. We’d rather leave those choices for you to make.

  20. Dan Tran Says:

    This might be quite interesting.

    Inspiredgs’ idea sounds like a great idea as well! No more need to search every contests’ brief for certain payment methods.

  21. yentut Says:

    nice idea..and i think that really really great, but it would be much better if you could think of something like , all wiiners can and will get their price money if declared winner, as for instance in my case , i’ve won a contest and yet up to now i haven’t recieve a single amount or a word from the contest holder itself :( sad for me .

  22. bteves Says:

    @yentut 99designs is already working on making all contests guaranteed. So you won’t have to worry about being stiffed again. You can read all about it here:

  23. Jonathan Says:

    All sites like yours start out with the laudable purpose of putting vendors and buyers together to provide a good value and have it delivered at a price point both can agree on. It is a great idea. And like this site, they become extremely popular.

    I loved this service and thought it was great, until… You set minimums. I thought the true “minimum” was what someone was willing to provide the work for. If it is a marketplace, let it function as one. I think a designer is intelligent enough to decide what is best for them to spend time on. To add on to what Yentut stated… wouldn’t it be better to focus your efforts on something that would make this a better service? Make sure the winners get paid! That is what will keep designers coming back. As for now, we will continue to come back, because we pay our winners and we love the work we have gotten back.

    However, I am concerned about this pricing change. Like other previous services have found out, competitors will clone you and open it back up and you will ultimately lose your base of loyal supporters. When you push around the free market it has the tendency to push back in the form of substitutes and new competitors. I’d rather pay more and choose the price of “my” contest then have someone do it for me.

  24. marcus Says:

    nadia, i agree.
    i think $250.00 is not going to cover a web design contest.

    I feel the price of a logo should be based on three criteria:
    1. Experience of the logo designer
    2. Size & budget of the company using the logo
    3. Scope and length of the logo usage

    They’re all over 99designs – logo designs under $200! I’ve seen $99 logo designs, ! You will easily find a wide range of prices for logo design on the Internet for even less.

    How are these logo’s we on 99designs really worth?
    How much is a logo or web design really worth? Ask Coca-Cola, Polo, LEGO, STAPLES, Microsoft, Canon, Nike, The Hard Rock Cafe, Hallmark or any other company that relies on their logo as their number one spokesman. Not every company is as large as these but every company should have a logo that is easy to identify and stands for the integrity of that business.

    A logo design is more valuable to a company than a single spot illustration. An illustration is normally used once or used for a limited campaign, whereas a logo is used for years and is placed on business cards, letterheads, envelopes, web sites, vehicles, buildings and products. Do you see the difference in value to a company? A logo has more value than just the hours spent on creating it. It becomes the companies identity. Their Brand.

    With that said, shouldn’t a logo or web design be worth more than just the time involved in creating it? (logo : $150.00 — web : $300.00 )Professional graphic design rates average anywhere from $50 to $85 per hour. If you see a logo design contest listed at $150-$200.00 and that designer charges $65 per hour for design work, do you assume that they spent 2.5 hours on your logo? That price would include the time spent to contact you, the research done on your company and competition, the preliminary ideas, the changes, the finalizing of the logo, the file prep for each different format, sending the logo, PayPal charges and allowing you to have all rights to the design. So how much time was actually spent creating your logo?

    My conclusion is that a logo is much more valuable to a company than a standard illustration so the price should reflect the added value. Many professional graphic designers here reading this now would be hard pressed to create a top notch illustration for under $165.00 or a web design for $250.00 let alone a creative & well designed web template or logo, .
    So if we as designers want our time spent on logos priced under $175.00,
    you should make sure that you do not over involve yourself and make sure they are paying for a 175.00 logo or 250.00 design. not a design any of us would tell other freelance clients $550.00 or $600.00

    Thanks. And Please Leave A Comment Telling Me Your Thoughts On This Post.


  25. Stephen Says:

    Dear 99Designs,

    By the question and content in this blog, it seems to me that you are in the middle of trying to (re)position yourself properly in the creative marketplace to satisfy designers and attract companies who are looking for the best creative solution. It’s called branding. As a professional designer and one who has the experience in positioning and branding, I would be delighted to talk with you further.

  26. marcus Says:

    wow.. i hope my comment wasn’t the only thread KILLER out there :)

  27. Jonathan: in general, we aim to let the market determine suitable prices. However we don’t believe in the free market fairy, and recognize that some checks and balances need to be put in place to ensure that things stay fair, and skilled designers don’t get pressured out of the market.

    And, we certainly are focusing our efforts on things that make this a better service – specifically, making sure designers get paid, as you pointed out.

    We also try to pay attention to the smaller issues like minimum and average prize amounts. Our focus is always going to be on looking after our designers, and because of this we’ll remain the best place to look for graphic design online.

  28. Kang Oman Says:

    bigger prized bigger spirit to win

  29. Jason Says:

    Unfortunately 99% of designs on 99designs are crap. It’s even more of a problem on bigger budget contests as contest holders need to wade through piles of coal to find the diamonds. I’m prepared to pay more to hold a contest, but how do i get better value for my contest dollar? I sure as hell won’t guarantee a contest while Template Monster rip-offs and clip-art logos proliferate.

    If designers want bigger budgets and guaranteed prizes, the least 99designs could do is give contest holders a way to target (or even simply find!) the better designers. Without that ability contest holders will continue to low-ball to minimise their risk of paying for a lemon.

    You need to look after the contest holders too – i’m chomping at the bit to give 99designs a go and launch a dozen logo design and web design contests, but i’m finding it too much of a risk based on the average quality of designs submitted.

  30. Jason Says:

    Furthermore, forcing contest holders to guarantee a prize is a surefire way to damage your service – I won’t hold a contest when the quality of the result can not be guaranteed in return.

    What if i write a poor brief or my contest goes under the radar? I’m all for giving up-and-coming designers a go, but i’m not paying good money for a truly awful result. Hence, contest holders will continue to pay peanuts if all they get is monkeys, or they’ll look elsewhere for crowdsourcing.

    Give me a way to target skilled designers and I will guarantee a prize any day of the week. Designers can filter contests based on price and payment guarantee, so why can’t I filter entrants based on their rating, number of contests won or percentage of contests won (to give new designers a fighting chance)?

    I would sooner target 200 talented designers than 20,000 wanna-be’s. Give me that option and i’ll not only pay more for it, i’ll guarantee payment and talented designers will get more work as a result.

  31. bteves Says:

    Unfortunately 99% of designs on 99designs are crap.

    So, why are you chomping at the bits to launch a dozen contests here?

    “…i’m finding it too much of a risk …”

    Welcome to the designers world @ 99designs. It is nothing but risk for us without some sort of guarantee we will be compensated for our work. Many of the designers here go above and beyond what is asked of them.

    “What if i write a poor brief or my contest goes under the radar?”

    Take your time and write a GREAT brief! You have no idea how frustrating it is to enter a contest with little to no brief. I tell CH’s over and over again, the more details you provide the better the designs. Instead we have to guess how YOUR company functions and what elements are important to YOUR clients.

    I understand your concerns, you’ve made valid points. No one wants to lose money here.

    So, why not add designer ratings (and CH ratings). Give CH’s the ability to invite highly rated designers to their contests. I wouldn’t mind seeing that if it could be used properly.

    I still think pre-paid is a great idea. And 99designs gives the CH the ability to withdraw and receive a refund…with a valid reason. Crappy submissions = withdraw.

  32. user Says:

    One way for the CH to increase the prize is to require that a higher payment for a private contest (non indexed by search engines, etc).

    Also, only guaranteed contests should be private.

    Currently there are non-guaranteed private web design contests for $400. That’s too low.

  33. Jonathan Says:

    Paul- My comments weren’t meant to drive us into a discussion of modern thought on economic theory. But, since you took it there… Thanks for the link to the “free market fairy” blog with the Obama and reddit link. Good stuff. Honestly, it is hard for me to take anyone seriously that uses Harry Potter references to help illustrate something as complex as free markets, whether they are good points or not. I do believe that markets need controls (as does your service), but NEVER fixed price minimums or maximums. Price ceilings create a shortage. Price floors create a surplus…. without fail. In the microeconomic sense, you will have more designers than companies willing to buy from them. The overall “macro” market will still be buying, just not through your service. Maybe not today, but if you keep messing with it, it will happen. Example: Type “99designs” into Google and the #2 suggestion (in their search assist tool) is “99 Designs Alternative.” In other words, it is already happening.

    Regardless, I fail to see how this even applies. In order for the “free market fairy” THEORY to even apply, you must first establish the premise that I have some sort of control or ability to exert undue market influence over the designers (such as those in the capitalist framework that abuse the poor because there are limited or no rules or controls; a monopoly for instance). We’re a small company, with limited market power… at best. I would assume most of the companies are smaller. So, your “free market fairy” reference simply doesn’t have any legs to stand on.

    A. I am not keeping your designers in a sweatshop and making them work long hours — They can work however and whenever they want.
    B. I don’t beat them if they don’t get my designs done on time — I will choose the designer that comes up with the best design in an agreed upon time. If they can’t meet my time schedule, they are more than free to opt out.
    C. They can work for any competing service they want — You have plenty of competitors. No monopoly here.
    D. The real kicker. If they don’t like my price, they don’t have to join my contest. If no one joins my contest, I will raise my price and the designers will lower theirs until we reach an equilibrium price. For higher quality, I will have to pay more. Better designers will hold out for higher priced contests. Don’t worry about them starving. If they are that good, they can command the higher hourly rates mentioned in a previous post.

    I’m not trying to be negative. I’m trying to help. You may not agree with me, but you should be taking note. Why? Because, companies like ours are the ones paying to keep you in business and we will always go and find the best service for the best price. Unfortunately for you, most companies that leave will never tell you why. They’ll just leave. That is because they are small and simply don’t have time to explain it to you.

    Take it for what it is worth. I like your service and, contrary to some of the comments above, there are some very good designers here. We have ALWAYS paid for our contests (here and on other services). Listen to and take care of both sides by coming up with common-sense controls to prevent abuses, but leave the pricing alone.

    Evil Capitalist / Lord Voldemort

  34. Jason, when we offer pre-paid contests we will be taking the prize money upfront from contest holders, but should you not get a result you’re happy with, and providing you exit the contest properly (i.e according to our rules) we will refund all of your prize money. The most you’ll loose is your listing fee.

    The other thing to consider is what you think is a great design is not necessarily what everyone else thinks is a great design…

    So simply rating designers by how many contests they’ve won, or % won, or whatever won’t work on it’s own. It will help, but we need a more balanced fairer system than that.

    So it’s not as simple as you suggest, but rest assured we hear what you’re getting at and we’ve got plans that solve all of this and more!

  35. Designer Says:

    Quoting from Evil Capitalist:

    “I do believe that markets need controls (as does your service), but NEVER fixed price minimums… The overall “macro” market will still be buying, just not through your service”


    As a marketplace, 99designs needs to determine what market they want to serve.

    If there’s no minimum price, the cheapest designer that can clone a submission will win, and, as a result, skilled designers will not have an incentive to compete, lowering the quality that 99designs can provide and its value proposition.

    Therefore, a reasonable minimum should be enforced. I think a reasonable minimum is the suggest prize, but it should be enforced, not only suggested.

  36. PB Designs Says:

    Hi all,

    A lot of you are talking about minimum prize increases for web design contests. This is the area of the site that I post most contests.

    What you provide is a design for one page.

    I then have to splice this design up and export it, then create the html/css page layout, and then add in a CMS system.

    Let’s not also forget that on top of that I have to get the sale to begin with.

    I tend to offer a prize of $350 – which is around £250 over here. I’m selling websites to fairly small businesses – the market over here won’t pay anymore than £1,000 for that sort of site – I’m currently charging £750. So you can see that there isn’t any room to pay more to the designer for the design.

    Looking at the designs I get, I estimate that it takes about an hour to come up with the design and create it – and maybe a further 30 minutes to make any modifications. Let’s say you win 1 in every 5 contests you win – that’s 7.5 hours of time spent per win – that’s $46 per hour spent working. I’d say that’s a pretty good hourly rate.

  37. Ricky Says:

    Here’s an idea.
    Why not create a group of invited and proven experts in trafficking and commercialising websites into a forum that people who pay a premium can get advice from.
    This could include a content expert, a performance advertising expert, a brand advertising expert, a technologist etc.
    This group can offer insights into the design and the business model.
    This service can only be offered to people who pay $1000 or plus for competitions.
    I have run several here and it seems to be a potential gap in the offering.

  38. @Ricky: That’s an interesting idea, thanks! We’ll look into it.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: