Spec Watch

99designs - by the numbers. Updated.

This is an update to our original 99designs raw numbers page.

Historical total number of contests.

25,708 contests

Whether this figure includes abandoned, refunded and unpaid contests or contests originally hosted on the Sitepoint website is unknown.

Prize money currently "available".

"$127,626 up for grabs in 364 open "projects" **

Current average payout per contest is $350.62.

"$6,022,769 in total awarded"

Historical overall average payout per contest is $234.27.

"2,289,770 designs in total"

When included as part of the total contest revenue "awarded" ($6,022,769), the average 'value' of each design submission is approximately $2.66 per design. That would include logos, website design page concepts, brochure layouts, stationery packages, etc. if every contest has been awarded, and the final design is considered as the one that wins that actually wins, there were approximately 2,264,062 designs submitted to 99designs for which no compensation was ever received.

If, on average, each submission took 1 hour (not unreasonable once we average complete time required from reading the contest brief, developing a concept, development and sourcing, creation and uploading to the 99designs server) that represents a total of approximately 2,264,062 hours.

That is the equivalent of 258 years of unpaid designer time.

if we account for the various differences in artwork type (ie: a website page submission may take several hours or more) that number is substantially higher. If we average out the average hourly wage down to $10 per hour (an unrealistically low figure but simple for calculation) that represents an amount that's close to $22,640,620 of unpaid man hours.

Yes. That figure is somewhere in the region of twenty two million dollars.

If we were adjust to realistic hourly rates, that figure would increase significantly. Even if we assume that every winning design had 4 preliminary designs before selection, that still amounts to 2,186,938 design entries for which no financial compensation was ever received and the calculations can be reworked accordingly. Unpaid man hours 2,186,938. At average 1 hour per design at $10 per hour, that still represents over twenty one million dollars worth of unpaid designer time.

The average number of submissions per contest works out to approximately 89. 99designs has stated they selected their name because of an average of 99 designs per submissions.

"41,782 designers"

We have no information on how many 'active' designers are actually entering 99designs 'contests'. If there are 41,782 active designers, that means an individual would have about a 0.9% chance of winning anything. However, it's highly unlikely there are 41,782 active designers and that figure probably represents the number of user accounts that have been opened. It's also not clear if this number also includes original accounts from SIte Point, the precursor to 99designs.

If a unique designer on 99designs won each "awarded" contest, that would mean that 16,074 designers have submitted work to 99designs without any financial compensation. We know that some designers win multiple contests, while others never win any, so it is difficult to extract any real data.

We can, however, play with what we have.

Let's say, for sake of argument, that all winning designers have won an average of three contests each. That works out to a total of 8,569 designers having earned an average of $702 each.

That would mean that 33,212 designers have spent a collective 258 years worth of design time, submitting 2,264,062 designs and contributing labor that is very conservatively estimated as being worth over twenty two million dollars.

Without ever receiving a penny for those efforts.

** It's worthwhile noting that 99designs is now referring to their design contests as "projects" on their home page and various sections on their website, but are still referring to "design contests" on others. This seems to indicate that 99designs are attempting to change the manner in which their activities are described, but have yet to enact a site-wide change.

Whether this is a marketing tactic, or because of the legal ramifications of advertising contests is unclear. We will continue to refer to 99designs offerings as "contests" as they have not changed their process, only the nomenclature used to describe them.

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