Crowdsourcing: 99Designs vs CrowdSpring vs DesignCrowd

Thus far, we’ve reviewed nearly freelance marketplace:

If nothing else, both the 99designs and DesignCrowd review linked above are good pre-requisites to this review comparison.

Today, we’ll be covering the most popular crowdsourcing platforms, 99Designs, CrowdSpring and DesignCrowd. And if you’re new to this blog, or new to crowdsourcing, the basic premise is that you post a contest with prize money, say for a logo you need for your new business, and a bunch of designers compete for that prize. And usually, only the winner walks away with the prize.

It’s a win-win for both parties, a business gets to choose among dozens of logos, and talented designers get paid for their work. The only losers are actually the designers who don’t win, which is one of the biggest gripes from freelancers because they don’t like to put in a lot of work and not get paid. And I agree with that, but only if you’re finishing in the top 5. If buyers aren’t following up with you, critiquing your design, etc. chances are your skill level is just not there.

Like our other posts, we’ll be covering both sides of the table, because I think it’s important for both buyers and designers to understand what the other party is thinking. Really quick, let’s start with the designers:

Which is the best platform for designers: 99designs, CrowdSpring, our DesignCrowd?

Really, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be on all of them scouting for the best projects. It’s like someone hunting for traditional employment, but only utilizing one job board. It just doesn’t make sense, and you could be missing a lot of opportunities. Sure there are minor monetary differences, DesignCrowd allows buyers to offer 2nd/3rd place prizes, and even paying designers just to compete. But at the end of the day, you should really be on all platforms if you want to maximize revenue. With that being said, I do have a bit of experience as a designer, but I’m running a marketing agency, and when I have helped clients setup crowdsourced projects, overall I tend to see better designers on 99designs. And it makes sense, 99designs created the market and they’re still the biggest player in the space.

99designs vs CrowdSpring vs DesignCrowd – Which site should you crowdsource to?

Let’s start with this, and I’ve often repeated this on the blog. Designers make the marketplace, not the other way around. Classic chicken and the egg problem for marketplaces, and you can’t have one side without the other. Each have a very similar feature set, and I’ll get into that, but the most important thing to realize is that the designers make the marketplace (and I’ll show you how to find the best ones below).

100% Money Back Guarantee

All sites offer a 100% money back guarantee, which means you have little risk as a buyer. Unlike conventional freelance marketplaces like oDesk and Elance, posting isn’t free. You’re paying for your project upfront, and DesignCrowd actually has a feature where you can guarantee payment. Which is good for freelancers, knowing that they’re not working gratis. With DesignCrowd, once I see designs roll through that I’m happy with, which means I know I’m going to buy, I do turn on the option for guaranteeing payment. And in my experience, designers are more apt to listen to your revision requests when they know there’s a good chance they could win the prize money.   

Let’s take a look at pricing, and since logos are the most popular type of design contest that’s what we’ll peek into:

DesignsCrowds Logo Pricing:

DesignCrowd Logo Pricing

99designs Logo Pricing:

99Designs Logo Pricing

CrowdSpring Logo Pricing:

CrowdSpring Logo Pricing

On paper, CrowdSpring is the cheapest (for logos at least). DesignCrowd is 2nd, and 99designs is the most expensive to start a contest. BUT it’s important to note what the freelancer takes home in each situation. The cheapest package, $199 from CrowdSpring, only awards 50% to the designer, which is only $100. And remember it’s not guaranteed, you’re competing against a limit of 5 other designers, and 25 total designs. The bigger packages allow the designer to win a bigger cut. From my research, 99designs and CrowdSpring payout about the same percentage. Technically, they’re not taking a commission as they’re charging the buyers upfront for posting the project. On DesignCrowd, they only take 15%, but also have posting and transaction fees.

Final Thoughts, and who you want to crowdsource your project depends on…

With DesignCrowd, I was extremely happy with my design, especially considering I only paid $180 for what I think is a lot more difficult than a logo. Only a few participated, and I had too invite a lot of freelancers just to get participants. Granted, my price was only $180 (I needed a background illustration, not a logo). Bottom Line: If you’re on a strict budget, and the $60 difference between DesignCrowd and 99Designs is significant enough, I’d give DesignCrowd a try. But you’ll have to put in a bit more time, invite a lot of freelancers whose work you like, etc. Here was the design I got, it was a background illustration for a website which I loved, to understand the context read the review linked above if you haven’t done so already.


If someone told me they needed a logo, I’d tell them to checkout 99designs. It’s my default answer. It’s the easiest to setup and I know from multiple campaigns that there will be a broad selection of good designers who submit good designs. You don’t need to invite them, they come to you. 99designs not only created the market, but they remain the biggest players – and I think for good reason. Facebook wasn’t the first social network, YouTube wasn’t the first place to host videos, and so on, so for a team to execute like 99designs does – as a business owner I’m very impressed. Bottom Line: Bang for buck I think 99designs is the best, if you do want to go with them be sure to review this post on how to make the most of 99designs.

With CrowdSpring, I just didn’t see too much differentiators. To me, it’s just a copycat of 99designs. At least DesignCrowd had a host of other options you could choose from that differentiates themselves from 99designs. But remember, designers make the marketplace. And I’m sure there’s a host of talent on there as well.

At the end of the day, I don’t think you can go wrong with either option. Designers make the marketplace. All options offer a 100% money back guarantee, so if you weren’t happy with 99designs you could move on to CrowdSpring or DesignCrowd.

What do you guys think? Both buyers and designers, which is your favorite crowdsourcing marketplace – 99designs, DesignCrowd or CrowdSpring?


Disclosure: As per the FTC Guidelines for Bloggers, please note that some of the links on this website are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please read the full FTC Disclosure here.

12 Responses to “Crowdsourcing: 99Designs vs CrowdSpring vs DesignCrowd”
  1. Dylan Robertson August 23, 2015
    • Jay Soriano August 25, 2015
    • Michael Samson October 16, 2015
      • Jay Soriano October 28, 2015
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