Participate in Online Design Contests and Make Money on 99designs

Make Money with Online Design Contests on 99Designs is an online marketplace for graphics design meant to connect customers with professional designers to get their design work completed. The company was founded in 2008 by Mark Harbottle and Matt Mickiewicz in Australia. The headquarters is located in San Francisco, United States. After the launch, the company received $35 million in funding by several angel investors. 99designs is currently providing its services all over the world and has its branch offices located in multiple countries. The working model of 99designs in based on crowd-sourcing which allows designers to participate in online design contests and compete with each other to win projects. Design categories vary from Website design to Logos, banners and even clothing.

Make Money with Online Design Contests on 99Designs


For customers, it’s pretty simple. First, give a brief description of the company, explain what kind of design you need, pick a design package (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum), start a contest, receive as many designs as your package allows, choose your favorite one and pay the winner. However, our primary focus in this guide is on how to earn money online as a designer by participating in the design contests available on the website. From designer’s point of view, this website is a gold mine. There are so many contests available belonging to so many categories and you will keep browsing the contests and thinking which one to pick and participate in. Some of the most prominent categories are:

  • Logo design
  • Website design
  • Application design
  • Advertisement design
  • Clothing and merchandise
  • Graphics & illustration
  • Product labeling and packaging
  • Book and magazine covers
  • So many others

Here we will start with How a contest actually works:

In a contest there are 4 stages and a typical contest runs for 7 days before selection of the winner. Here’s what each stage is about:

  1. Qualifying Round: The qualifying round is comprised of the first 4 days of the contest. This round is open for all designers where they can enter a contest and submit their design based on the client’s requirement. The client gives feedback on the received designs.
  2. Selecting Finalists: The client is then given up to 4 days to select a maximum of 6 designers to qualify for the final round. Most importantly in this stage the contest becomes guaranteed which means that the customer will no longer be able to ask a refund over it.
  3. Final Round: The final round goes on for the next three days during which the customer works with the designers to finalize his / her chosen designs.
  4. Selection of the Winner: After the final round, the customer is given a maximum of 2 weeks to review the designs and choose the winner of the contest.

Pretty exciting right? Here’s how the Contest listing page looks like:

design contest listing

Now you must be wondering how to actually participate in a design contest and submit the deliverables. The process is fairly easy and takes no time to create an account, select a contest to participate in and submit your designs. We have broken the whole process in a few steps to help you with that. Here goes:

  1. The first thing that you need to do is to Sign up for a designer account. Click HERE to register.
  2. After registering you need to provide a valid copy of your ID to get verified. This is just a security measure necessary for gaining membership of the portal.
  3. Now you can simply browse the contests, choose the most suitable of them that you can deliver and start submitting your work. The process is very simple and intuitive.
  4. Before submitting your designs, you have to ensure that they meet the following requirements:
    1. Minimum size should be 960 x 960px
    2. Maximum size should be 2040 x 8160px
    3. Allowed file formats are PNG, GIF or JPG
    4. Color mode should be RGB
    5. Your designs should have 1:1 aspect ratio
  5. You should also provide a good description about your designs so the customer can easily understand your perspective. This increases your chances of winning.
  6. If you have included any licensed stock images in your design, you must give detail about them.
  7. Then after you have agreed to the designer guideline you can submit your work by clicking on the Submit Design button.

Please also note that once you win a contest, you will have to send the final files with the right color mode and the dimensions. Also you will have to sign the Copy Right transfer Agreement in order to transfer the copy rights of the design to the customer. Here‘s a very detailed guide about how to not make the most common mistakes that designers make during the submission process. The whole process is very simple really. All you need is good designing skill and a good aesthetic sense. You can leave the rest on 99designs. If you’re a good designer, you’re a natural winner although patience is the key. Don’t get discouraged if your first couple of designs don’t get approved. See carefully what other designers are doing to impress the customers. Try to adopt the stuff that you learn from them.


As I mentioned previously, 99designs have setup a great mechanism to protect your payments. Once the contest becomes guaranteed in the Selection step (2nd step), the customer will not be able to withdraw from the contest and he / she will have to go with the process and pick a winner. That means the cash is safe and it will go straight to the winner of the contest. The customer cannot take it back.

You will need to request a payout to receive money. The minimum amount that you can cash out is $25. There are 3 payment gateways that 99designs currently support, Payoneer, Skrill and PayPal. The best part is at least one of these payment gateways is functional in almost all countries. So no matter where you live, you will be able to receive your payments without a problem. If you do not have accounts on any of these payment gateways, you can create one by visiting their websites:


If your either a newbie designer or a skilled one, 99designs is probably the best place to start your designing career. Not only will you be able to build a great portfolio for yourself but you will also be making good amount of cash if you get the hang of it. Remember, nothing is easy in the beginning.

You will have to work hard to compete with other designers. It’s like a battle and you’re a warrior. You will have to fight your way out to victory. The more contests you win the more chances that you will win the next ones. Your profile improves with your feedback. If you’re looking for a good work-at-home freelance designing job and want to be able to make a good amount of money online with your designing skills then this portal presents the best opportunity for you. Don’t waste it.

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About the Author: Denise Hilton

Denise Hilton is a professional career counselor and an IT professional specializing in Freelancing, E-commerce and Online job platforms.

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