I recently ran a logo design contest on 99 Designs. It was my second contest overall. The first one I did about 2 1/2 years ago was such a success, that it seemed a no-brainer. This recent contest turned out to be a flop, despite paying twice as much this go around.

I love the idea of 99 Designs, but I think the execution could be improved. I was thinking about it this morning as I drove in to work and had some thoughts that I think would improve the service overall.

While 99 Designs is great for the person looking for a design, if I were a designer, I really doubt I would submit anything on 99 Designs. It would be far too much work with very little chance of receiving any compensation. I would perhaps use it as a stepping stone to build a portfolio, but beyond that, I’m sure I could find far easier & betters ways to get paid.

So the first thing I would do is find a way to reward more designers. Here are my initial thoughts just for a logo competition:

  • Charge $499 for every logo competition.
  • Allow designers to submit up to 3 designs. It seems on my last competition I had about 60 designs submitted. It seemed half of them came from one designer, and the majority came from 3 designers. Limiting a designer to 3 designs would force them to choose their best work. They could always remove a design and replace it with another.
  • To play off the name of the site, I would limit the contest to only 99 designs. So in theory if each designer submitted 3 drafts you could only have 33 designers. But not every designer will submit 3 drafts so there could certainly be more.
  • For every submission the designer will get paid $1 at the end of the competition. There would be checks in place so that the contest owner could mark a design as garbage and X number of other designers could concur to boot the awfully bad design. That designer simply wouldn’t get paid. So out of the gate, $99 of the $400 would be allocated to paying out submissions.
  • Each designer that submits work would be allowed to rate other designs, but not their own. As a project owner I would be curious to get such immediate feedback. At the end of the competition, the design with the highest average peer rating would get $25 (consider this the Miss Congeniality award). That leaves $375 in the pool
  • At the end of the submission deadline, the project owner could have some choices: 1) refund of $370. They are out $129 for running the competition ($5 service fee would go to 99 Designs to cover any credit card transaction fees and just a small charge for using the service. 2) Create a poll. They would select their top 6 designs to create a poll. Anyone selected for the poll would get a $10 bonus. That would leave s the pool with a minimum of $315. 3) Choose an outright winner. At this point 99 Designs takes their usual cut and the winner gets the rest.
  • If the project owner chose to do a poll and submit to friends & colleagues on twitter, the highest rated logo would receive an additional $25 leaving the pool at $290. At this point the project owner would select a winner. 99 Designs would take their cut and the winner would get the remainder.

I don’t know if this would fix much, but I have a feeling it would attract more designers and more designs per competition. The numbers are just straight off the top of my head. Some testing could be done to find the sweet spots.

What do you think? What would you change if anything?