fbpx
Connect with us

Business

Review: The Truth About 99Designs

Published

on

Getting graphic design work done can often be a challenge. Where do you even start? Hiring a full-time graphic designer is expensive and risky. Hiring a freelancer online can take a bit of time. And often times, your designer works in a completely different timezone, making collaboration near impossible.

That’s where 99Designs come in. The company offers a talent-sourcing platform where you can create a design contest and have designers from all over the world submit their entry. You pay 1 flat fee for the contest and guaranteed many drafts. Sounds too good to be true? Let’s find out!

99designs Review

In order to review 99designs accurately, we prepared several projects to submit on the platform. These projects are things that we actually have a need for and may use if the design results returned are good enough.

We’ll go through the entire process that 99designs laid out and follow all rules and instructions given to us. Upon receiving the design work, we’ll pass it around internally to 10 people in our office and simply give a yay or nay. Whatever the results are, will be the numerical grade given. Let’s begin!

What 99designs can do?

In short, just about anything but they’re limited to just graphic design. In our quick 99designs analysis, they offer the following design services:

  • Logo & identity
  • Web & app design
  • Business & advertising
  • Clothing/Merch
  • Illustrations
  • Packaging
  • Books & magazines
  • And more…(the remaining categories are a bit obscured or too niche to list)

It’s a fairly extensive list and seems like if you’re a new startup or business, they’ll cover most of your initial design needs.

What 99designs CANNOT do

As the name implied, 99designs only offers graphic design. They can design a website or app for you, but you will need an independent development team to code it. 99designs also currently don’t offer content support, which isn’t that unusual. Whatever you want designed, you’ll need to provide all of the content before hand.

And that also means you need to do all the proofreading as well. Whatever you submit to be designed, will be designed. The designers usually won’t comment or question your grammar mistakes. So be sure to double and triple check all your content before submitting it to be designed.

Another thing to note, 99designs cannot deliver on time. The delivery runs on a rather flexible schedule that can take up to 2 weeks or longer. So if you need something done fast, 99designs may not be the best solution, even with the expedited delivery add-on purchase.

99designs’ ACTUAL pricing

When we audit 99designs’ pricing structure, we found a few of their categories to be confusing. Categories such as Logos, Web & app design, and Business Advertising can be misleading or vague. For example, when choosing a logo design, you might think you have to buy one of their packages that starts at $349. But with a bit of patience and knowing where to navigate, you can actually just buy a single logo design without any add-ons.

To avoid confusion, I’m going to break down a few of the categories below just so you know exactly how things are priced.

4 Different Tiers

After you fill out the first page of the project brief, 99designs will ask you to pick a tier. The lowest tier will give you the fewest number of design submissions and will usually be assigned to junior artists. Meanwhile the more expensive tiers get more design submissions and often given to more experienced designers.

The price breakdown below assumes you’re going with the lower price tiers, since that’s what most people tend to choose.

Logo & identity prices

Logo alone: $299
Packages: 5 packages offered between $349 – $599

Web design, Website Re-design, and WordPress Theme design prices

The $599 promotional price is NOT for an entire website design or re-design. This is just for ONE page. If you want multiple pages to be designed, 99designs will charge you PER PAGE. The more pages you want designed, the most it will cost. However, you’ll get a steeper discount per page if you request multiple pages at once.

As of now, 99designs only offer up to 5 pages designed initially. If you need more than 5 pages designed, you’ll likely need to hire a designer from 99designs afterward to continue working on the project.

1 page = $599.
2 pages = $749.
3 pages = $899.
4 pages = $1049
5 pages = $1199

Landing page design prices

Landing pages are charged at a flat rate of $349 since it’s just 1 page. There are no options for multiple pages. If you want additional pages to be designed afterward, you’ll have to create another $349 landing page contest, and that’s not cost-effective. If you have a landing page with multiple pages, you’ll have to cough $599 for the web design package.

App design prices

For the advertised price of $599, you are NOT getting an entire app designed. You’re paying PER page of the app to be designed. The more pages you want done, the more it’ll cost. But it’s the initial page design that will cost the most. The more pages you need done, the cheaper it is per page to be designed.

1 screen = $599
2 screens = $699
3 screens = $799
4 screens = $899
5 screens = $999

Business & advertising

The prices for Business & advertising are all over the place and might not make any sense. For example, why does it cost $299 for an Album cover design…when it costs only $199 for a Podcast cover? They’re both square dimension graphics with basically the same requirements. If you need an Album cover design, you can just request a “Podcast cover” to save money.

Anyway, here’s a breakdown of what you can get at each different price points.

Starting at $149: Billboard, Tradeshow banner, Banner,

Starting at $199: Postcard, Flyer, Leaflet, Direct Mail, Poster, Podcast cover, Signage, Menu, Website header, Resume, Word Template, Tradeshow Booth, Other business advertising

Starting at $299: Album cover, Brochure, Booklet, Pamphlet, Email, Email newsletter, Powerpoint template,

Starting at $349: Car/truck/van wrap

Starting at $599: Infographic

Extra Add-ons

In addition to the base cost of the project, you can pay for additional add-ons.

Dedicated support: For a price of $129 extra, you can have access to dedicated customer support should you run into any problems.

Guaranteed: This doesn’t cost anything, but it basically negates your 100% money-back guarantee with 99designs. The reason they offer this is because how designers are paid. Often times, they’re paid pennies for participating in your design contest. Out of possible 20 – 30 design submissions, they will only get paid a reasonable fee IF you choose their design.

If you request a refund, no one gets paid. Therefore, if you choose this option, designers have more confidence that there’s a stronger chance you’ll commit.

Here’s what 99designs promises if you choose to negate your guarantee.

  • Have more designers participating
  • Receive 50% more designs on average
  • Get a wider range of creativity

Private contest: This $59 add-on gives you the assurance that your design/intellectual property won’t be leaked onto Google or used by designer. Designer will sign an NDA to ensure they protect your privacy. You can even use your own NDA.

Duration: Typical turnaround for 1st draft is 4 days. Need the design in a hurry? Pay a small fee for expedited delivery.

99designs pricing review

Overall, the prices can fluctuate quite a bit depending on which tier you select and how many add-ons you buy. I wouldn’t say 99designs prices are cheap, because they’re fairly expensive for just 1 design. They are cheaper than hiring an in-house designer or a design agency, but there are definitely much cheaper options. The one benefit of 99designs’ model is that you get a lot of drafts for that price, so you have much more to choose from during each round of revisions.

How long it REALLY takes to get your designs

There’s 5 rounds total that you need to go through before you can get your design files. Each round can take anywhere from 1-2 days up to 14 days to complete. Most of that does depend on you. If you give feedback quickly, you’ll get your design files much faster. Here’s a breakdown of the 5 rounds.

Round 1: Qualifying round (4-5 days)
In this round, 99design sends your project out to all qualified designers in their talent pool. Designers can choose to accept or ignore your contest. Once enough designers have accepted your contest and submitted their design work, you move onto Round 2.

Round 2: Select finalists (4 days)
It’s probably 4-5 days now since you started the contest and your designs are finally in. You’ll have a lot of designs to choose from. Now you have 4 days to review the designs and select up to 6 designs that you like. Any designs you don’t select will be rejected. Designs you select gets to move onto the next round.

During this round, there’s a 99designs review feature that lets you share the submissions with others via a shareable link. You have 4 days to select your finalists! Once chosen, the contest will be moved to the 3rd round.

Round 3: Final round (3 days)
In this round, you’ll need to leave revisions for the selected finalists. Your finalists will work on as much revisions as you give them in this round. If you don’t like something, you can request more revisions and they’ll keep submitting. Keep in mind you only have 3 days for this round.

Round 4: Choose a winner
Contest is now officially over and a winner must be selected. In this round, you can create and send a poll to everyone you want feedback from to see which design is the best. You can only select 1 winner.

Round 5: Handover (5 days?!)
Your designer now has up to 5 days to hand over all of the design files and any copyright materials to you. Yes, you read that right. 5 days.

So…how long does it really take?

Let’s assume that you’re super responsive and you complete YOUR part the same day 99designs notify you…

Round 1: 4 days for all initial designs to come in
Round 2: 1 day to select finalists (because you’re responsive)
Round 3: 3 days for final round of revisions
Round 4: 1 day to pick a winner (because you want the files fast!)
Round 5: 1-5 days to get files

So you’re looking at between 10 – 14 days to complete a single design project. If you’re a new startup or business that doesn’t have strict deadlines to meet, this delivery window is perfectly fine. If you’re more established and looking for someone to help you meet an aggressive marketing schedule, 99designs may not work for you.

How to get QUALITY designs from 99designs?

If you’re coming to 99designs with a limited budget for graphic design, then chances are your results will vary. From my experience, the lower tier designers often just use templated graphics from Freepik or Envato.

If you want high quality designs from 99designs, here’s what you’ll need to do.

  1. Sign up for higher tier: Choose Gold or Platinum plans. They’re significantly more expensive, but that’s what you need to get experienced designer’s attention.
  2. Fill EVERYTHING out: When creating your project brief, do not skip any steps. Fill out as much information as you can and spend time creating a solid brief.
  3. Give additional examples: The last field on most form will ask “Is there anything else you would like to communicate to the designers?”. Use this opportunity to give more information. Also include even more examples of what you like and don’t like. This helps the designer narrow down your preferences.

Pros & Cons of 99designs

We’ll start with the PROS

  • Affordable compared to hiring an inhouse designer
  • No hiring or managing of designers. They do all of that for you.
  • Lots of designs to choose from for each round
  • One platform can cover most of your design needs
  • Easy to use platform
  • Clear indicator of how far along your design is
  • Offers a 100% money back guarantee

Now for the CONS

Who is 99designs really for?

99designs is best suited for startups, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and anyone just starting out. The prices are affordable and you get a lot of selections. Having 20+ drafts submitted to you is a great benefit, especially if you’re starting out and have no idea exactly how you want to brand yourself.

For larger businesses, marketing teams, and agencies, 99designs may not be the best fit given how expensive the bill will eventually be if you need 10+ designs per month. The 10 – 14 day delivery window can also be a major setback if you’re trying to meet deadlines.

  • Can get expensive if you have consistent design needs
  • 10 – 14 day delivery
  • Design quality is mediocre unless you’re willing to pay a premium
  • No real way to interact with designer except through feedback
  • Customer support is a paid add-on

Business

10 Subscription Based Services Business Owners Need to Try in 2022

Published

on

Over the past decade, subscription-based services have taken the business world by storm. Cloud-based infrastructure makes it easier for businesses to start, scale, and succeed. Paying a simple regular fee to use a software or service helps keep all your expenses in order.

Nobody wants to get tangled up in too many subscriptions. And with so many services on the market, it’s easy to end up with more than you need. That’s why we’ve assembled 10 great subscription based services for your business needs.

1) Hive – Subscription based project management tool

Project management is one of the areas where cloud-based tools come most in handy. Real-time collaboration is a great way to keep track of everyone’s work and ensure that it all gets done.

Hive offers just that. On top of task management and time tracking, they offer a variety of views to help each team member visualize their work the way they see fit, whether it’s as a kanban board, Gantt chart, calendar, or table.

There are plenty of great project management tools to choose from, but Hive’s versatility puts it over the top. They offer quick integrations, automations, and even a built-in messaging system.

Pricing: Unlike the rest of these services, Hive only has a single paid subscription plan. They offer three options:

  • Solo – Free of charge, for individual users.
  • Teams – $12/user/month. Includes shareable forms, an in-app calendar, and Zoom and Slack integrations.
  • Enterprise – Bespoke plans for enterprise customers. Include flexible add-ons, heightened security, custom analytics, and dedicated support.

2) Omnisend – Subscription based ecommerce marketing service

Marketing solutions aren’t exactly hard to come by, but what if your company has specific needs? For ecommerce brands, that’s where Omnisend comes in. This SaaS has everything you need to create successful, automated email and SMS marketing campaigns.

Tools like sign-up forms are geared directly towards ecommerce. They offer integration with all the major platforms, including Shopify, WooCommerce, and dozens more. They also have some pretty extensive analytics tools to help you keep track of your campaigns’ success.

Pricing: Omnisend comes in three tiers:

  • Free – $0/mo. Reach up to 250 contacts. 500 emails/mo.
  • Standard – Starts at $16/mo (pricing based on contact list size). 6,000 emails/mo.
  • Pro – Starts at $59/mo. Unlimited emails. 3,933+ free SMS credits.

3) Identity Guard – Subscription based data theft protection

Identity theft protection services are often geared towards individuals and families. But while security may start at home, your business’ data is just as precious.

If you’re looking for data theft protection for your business, look no further than Identity Guard, an AI-driven subscription based service by AURA. They offer robust data breach protection as well as employee protection plans, all backed by IBM’s iconic Watson AI.

Pricing: Breach protection comes in two plans:

  • Value – $36/year per activation code
  • Total – $120/year per activation code. Includes bank account and credit monitoring.

Employee benefit plans are custom-built.

4) Zoho CRM – Subscription based CRM platform

Zoho offers a staggering range of cloud-based software solutions, including email, customer service, docs, HR, and much more. But their first, foremost, and perhaps best offering is their customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

Zoho has great customer solutions for businesses big and small. You can micro-manage operations with their detailed analytics, or streamline your process with automated workflows. On top of all that, it’s totally customizable, so you can create your ideal workspace.

Pricing: Zoho’s CRM comes at five tiers:

  • Free – $0. Includes up to 3 users, essentials like leads, documents, mobile apps.
  • Standard – $14/user/month. Includes automated workflows and custom dashboards.
  • Professional – $23/user/month. Includes real-time notifications and inventory management.
  • Enterprise – $40/user/month. Includes AI, mobile SDK, advanced customization.
  • Ultimate – $52/user/month. Includes advanced BI and highest possible feature limits.

In addition, you can buy Zoho CRM Plus, which combines 8 other Zoho services, for $57/user/month. Bigin, a pipeline-based CRM for small businesses, starts at $7/user/month.

5) HubSpot CMS Hub – Subscription based content management system

Like Zoho, HubSpot offers a wide range of software solutions for businesses, which they call “hubs.” You can buy these hubs individually according to your needs or combine them for discounted bundle pricing.

Their content management system (CMS) is one of their more impressive hubs. It includes handy tools for secure website hosting and building, including a drag-and-drop editor and mobile optimization. On top of building websites, HubSpot makes it easy to scale with multiple plans and performance monitoring.

Pricing: HubSpot CMS Hub comes in four plans:

  • Free – $0. Allows for 1 blog and up to 25 web pages. Includes analytics, hosting, SEO, drag-and-drop editor.
  • Starter – Starts at $23/mo. Includes 50 web pages, ad management, URL mappings, payment support, reporting dashboards. Removes HubSpot branding from site.
  • Professional – Starts at $360/mo. Allows for up to 100 blogs and 10,000 web pages. Includes custom analytics, advanced SEO, dynamic personalization, content staging, video hosting, site tree.
  • Enterprise – Starts at $1,200/mo. Includes highest limits on all features, custom objects, site performance monitoring, web apps, sandboxes, permissions.

A 14-day free trial is available. Add-ons such as custom SSL and limit increases can be built into your plan.

6) Penji – Subscription based graphic design service

Content management is one thing, but where do you get the content itself? When it comes to graphic design, Penji offers professional-quality designs on a subscription basis.

With Penji’s unlimited model, you can get as many designs as you need. Their plans cover everything from logos to social media graphics. They even design websites and apps. With a global team of full-time designers, they deliver quality designs in a matter of days.

Pricing: Penji offers three plans:

  • Pro – $499/mo. Includes unlimited graphic design, illustrations, logos and branding.
  • Team – $699/mo. Includes unlimited web designs, app designs, presentations, and animated graphics.
  • Daytime – $999/mo. Includes USA daytime designers, same-day turnaround, and a dedicated art director.

All plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

7) Rippling – Subscription based HR and IT cloud service

This enterprise software solution is one of the best options out there for payroll maintenance, but it’s got much more than that. It combines workflow automation with HR and IT tools, helping enterprises streamline their employer-to-employee processes.

If you’ve been making use of this list, you’ll be especially happy to hear about Rippling’s app management. You can set up, manage, and disable employee apps in one simple place, ensuring that you’re using everything you need and nothing extra.

Pricing: Unfortunately, Rippling doesn’t offer transparent pricing on their site. Because they cater to enterprise customers, they offer quotes based on businesses’ precise needs. At the very least, their core platform costs $35/mo, with an additional $8/user/mo for payroll services.

8) Moz Pro – Subscription based SEO tool

Moz was founded as SEOmoz in 2004 as a site for some of the world’s earliest SEO experts to share their research. Basically, they wrote the book on SEO.

Moz Pro isn’t the cheapest option for SEO on the market, but it uses its history of experience to its advantage. They offer robust, eminently useful data to give your business the search engine boost it needs, crawling your site to precisely pinpoint issues.

Pricing: Moz Pro offers four plans:

  • Standard – Starts at $79/mo. Includes 3 campaigns, 300 keyword rankings, 60 tracked URLs, 100k page crawls per week.
  • Medium – Starts at $143/mo. Includes 10 campaigns, 1,500 keyword rankings, 200 tracked URLs, 500k page crawls per week.
  • Large – Starts at $239/mo. Includes 25 campaigns, 3,000 keyword rankings, 500 tracked URLs, 1.25 million page crawls per week.
  • Premium – Starts at $479/mo. Includes 50 campaigns, 4,500 keyword rankings, 1,000 tracked URLs, 2 million page crawls per week.

9) Tableau – Subscription based business intelligence service

You can have all the fancy subscription based software in the world, but it won’t get you anywhere if you’re not paying attention to what works. Tableau is a leader in business intelligence (BI) and analytics. They offer a robust array of digestible data to help your business work smarter.

Tableau is trusted by customers ranging from Whole Foods to Pfizer, Nissan to Charles Schwab. Powered by Salesforce, they also offer integrations with SQL, AWS, and dozens of other cloud services.

Pricing: Tableau offers three cloud-based plans for teams:

  • Viewer – $15/user/mo.
  • Explorer – $42/user/mo.
  • Creator – $70/user/mo.

They also offer server-based plans (on-premise or public cloud), a Creator plan for individuals, and embedded analytics.

10) Bit.ai – Subscription based service for workplace collaboration

The final piece of the puzzle that brings your whole business infrastructure together: collaboration. Plenty of cloud-based offerings include collaboration tools, and many businesses use free tools like Slack and Google Docs to power their communication.

Bit.ai combines all these features and more. Think of it like a document editor that’s also a content manager. It lets businesses share, create, and keep track of the content they put out, all with robust communication. They also integrate easily with tools like Tableau, OneDrive, Google Suite, Miro, Trello, Facebook, and more.

Pricing: Bit.ai offers three plans:

  • Free – $0. Allows for up to 5 members, 50 documents, 1GB storage. Includes content library, integrations, collaboration tools.
  • Pro – $8/member/month. Allows for unlimited members, unlimited documents, 500GB storage. Includes export, bulk import, version history.
  • Business – $15/member/month. Allows for unlimited storage. Includes trackable documents, priority support, engagement analytics, guest access.

Bit.ai also offers custom plans for enterprise customers.

Continue Reading

Business

Thinking of Investing in An Early-Stage VC?

Published

on

venture capital

Do you find yourself asking, “should I invest in early-stage VC?” If so, you’re not alone. Venture capital has become one of the most popular ways to invest in high-growth startups. It offers high returns and the chance to join the founding team of a company before anyone else. With venture capital, you have not only access to top-notch business management but also an opportunity to build your portfolio.

However, due to its early stage, venture capital investing is not for everyone. Those who are looking for ways to make money fast should consider other options first. Think about it: what do investors require in order to fund a startup? An answer that’s likely yes will do it again—at least in this case. The same can be said about the minimum investment required by venture capital firms—it depends on their target sector or geography. This article will help you understand what you need to know before investing in venture capital.

What is venture capital?

Before we tackle the answer to the question, “should I invest in early-stage VC,” let’s discuss the basics of venture capital.

Simply said, venture capital is the funding of new businesses and expansion. That said, venture capitalists provide funding for startups at an early stage. They see potential in ventures that are often in the “uncertain” stage of their growth and usually lack funds. They provide the necessary capital to help companies realize their full potential. In addition to that, financial and managerial resources may also be offered.

Insider Monkey says the biggest VC companies in the world in 2021 are Google Ventures, Insight Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Index Ventures, and Sequoia Capital.

Why do people invest in venture capital?

person presenting something

The main reason people invest in venture capital is to gain a high return on their money. Another reason is the chance to build a portfolio of investments. For instance, some investors are interested in the high level of skill involved in the management of a venture capital fund. Some investors, on the other hand, want to be part of launching new products and services.

How does a venture capital firm operate?

VC firms are a unique blend of investment and management. They begin by identifying, researching, and screening a large number of high-potential companies. After evaluating these startups, the VC firm decides which to fund. It then hires management teams to run its companies. As mentioned above, the VC firm provides not just financial support but also expertise and advice. After all, the success of the startup means investment growth.

So, here’s the million-dollar question – should I invest in early-stage VC? The answer lies in whether you can stomach the risks. One of those risks is losing your entire investment. For example, a VC firm can fail due to bad investment decisions, poor management, or even bad timing. If you’re ready to go through these risks, however, then a VC investment may be for you.

Why should I invest in early-stage VC?

If you’re thinking of putting your money in a VC firm, some believe that now is the best time to do it. After all, some VCs have grown to be household names over the last 20 years because of their success. In addition to that, VCs have made a reputation for investing in early-stage SaaS ventures with low startup valuations.

But here’s what should be the biggest trigger for you to consider VC investment: global equity prices correction. Due to geopolitical instability, inflation, and many other factors, the economic downturn can be inevitable.

At the same time, many startups today are building products with world-changing potential. And given the high quality of these products, these startups can survive – and even thrive – in recession-like scenarios.

Given these two elements, many startups may be at a “discounted” valuation at the moment, and it would be wise to strike while the iron is hot. After all, VC is one of the most exciting ways to invest in high-growth startups with a potential for high returns.

Continue Reading

Business

7 Effective Ways to Improve at Networking

Published

on

person using a laptop

Believe it or not, networking works. Whether you hate meeting people or socializing, if you want to grow your business, you need to do some networking. And when you want networking to work for you, you must be pushy and assertive but politely. Read here to know the ways to improve at networking.

Here are 7 Ways to Improve at Networking

Identify Your Goals

journal and coffee cup

The first thing you need to do is to determine what you want to get out of the task. Ask yourself, what am I looking for? Once you understand your goals and objectives, it’s easier to identify which events to go to. This way, you can find which ones are better aligned with your business to get more productive results. This will also assure you that your efforts won’t go to waste.

Research the Events

Once you determine your goals and lined up a few events to go to, do a bit of research. Try to get as much data about them as possible. It is also highly recommended that you get to know the people attending these events. If you see a company you’re interested in, you should find out more about them before going.

Wear the Appropriate Clothing

people in a meeting

They say, “dress to impress,” and this rings true when attending networking events. Choose clothes that will make you feel comfortable while suitably dressed for the occasion. You can wear bright-colored clothes for a casual event and be the ice-breaker. Or add an accessory that can be a conversation starter. This way, socializing becomes more effortless and will get you more people to network with.

Practice Makes Perfect

It pays to rehearse what you’ll say to people about your company. You can stand in front of a mirror and practice your pitch so you won’t have to forget an important detail. Remember to include your achievements to make them see how your business will help them improve theirs. A little bit of humble brag will go a long way.

Create a Killer Business Card

business card

There will be exchanges of business cards at these events, so make sure that yours will stand out. There are many websites you can go to where you can design your own. Ensure that all pertinent data is on it, so people aren’t left hanging. In addition, make sure that your design will grab attention and won’t have the card end up in the trash bin.

Be Prepared

Make sure to set yourself at ease and relax, especially if it’s going to be a long event. Get your socializing skills warmed up by getting a drink, if applicable. This can also set the mood for the event to help you start talking to people. Once you get the conversation going, you should engage in active listening. 

As much as you want people to absorb what you’re saying, you should do the same. Allot a time for each person you talk to and stick to that time. Then, excuse yourself politely to start conversing with other people. Hand over your business card and move on to the next prospect.

Don’t worry about offending people, many networking event attendees understand the transactional nature of them. Give them a promise to follow up and end the conversation. 

Follow the Best Practices

After you go to one event, analyze your moves and try to make a pattern of what worked. This can help you avoid mistakes such as wasting your time with one company and other similar situations. Also, think of the best lines that will quickly convey your message. Think of networking as speed dating, so arm yourself with the best pickup lines.

Continue Reading

Trending