How To Get Professional Branding

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You reach a certain level in Affiliate Marketing where you have learned the basics on how to get sites to rank, customers to click from your page and buy from Merchants. It’s time to start paying more attention to your own mini-brands, how you look and what people think of your site. Normally the first impression is your logo, name, look and layout if it’s poor you could be potentially losing users based on the perception that as long as it is ‘shiny’ and ‘nice looking’ it can be trusted.

Some Affiliates are great at design themselves, that’s how they got involved in Affiliate Marketing. Others have built up an ok size business and employ a full time designer or developer, they have the advantage with respect to design, most of the time but even they can use a helping hand when it comes to getting loads of fresh new ideas that they can go on to develop from and that’s where 99 Designs steps in. I can hear the over paid design “guru experts” crying slave labour as I type. Well guys, sorry to say but we do live in a global economy and sourcing work around the world is the reality now, but I do respect the need for a local or in-house resource for design and to this end I employ 2 full-time designers across my two main companies.


Why use 99designs?

Well first and foremost it’s a “design competition” where you set what you can afford and supply the brief. It’s main strength is the number of entry’s and ideas that are submitted, it’s main downside (or plus side depending on how you see it and use it) is the time taken to get replies and manage all the entry’s, think The X Factor / American Idol and be Simon when giving your view, aka say what you really like and don’t like, but maybe a little nicer ;-). If you put in the time you can easily get professional level logos and branding at a tiny fraction of what a branding agency would charge you.

Other Design Stuff

99designs can be used for other stuff like stationery, t-shirt design, twitter background etc but personally I think once you get a logo/brand you like you can tweak and design other stuff using that as your base.

Designs Time and Costs

Well this is the surprising bit, you could have a really top quality logo / brand for as little as $400 / £245 total paid out ($300+ listing fees etc). You can of course pay a lot less but the level of people taking part both in numbers and quality will drop. And last but not least, you can go from idea to completed design in 7 days and that’s part of the magic of 99designs.


I found out about this site via a fellow Affiliate and have now used it 4 times, 2 times direct and 2 times via companies I am involved with. I was pretty amazed to see that a fair few folk I know in the Affiliate community are using this site, indeed many of the logos you see on Twitter Icons or at the A4UForum have actually been designs via 99desings yet surprisingly it’s still a pretty well kept secret in the Affiliate community, well not any more 😉

The Website for 99designs can be found at

You can find me on Twitter @ClarkeDuncan where I talk about Affiliate stuff and other things.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Greg Findley

    Hi Clarke,

    In response to;
    “I can hear the over paid design “guru experts” crying slave labour as I type. Well guys, sorry to say but we do live in a global economy and sourcing work around the world is the reality now”

    I don’t think it’s due to a fear of loss of work, but down to the speculative nature of the contests, ie. ‘design this for me and then I’ll pay the one I like the best’, arguably it devalues the industry. For example, you don’t get a builder into build your wall then say, build it and I’ll pay if I like the end result.

    If you’re looking to pay out £245 for a logo design why not use a designer in the UK with a track record, a decent portfolio, and knowledge of the market your site is operating in? For that kind of price you could take your pick from a number of UK freelancers or agencies.

    I know a lot of other freelancers who will offer a complete satisfaction guarantee with their work, like myself.


    PS- See for more details!

  2. Mark Boyd

    99Designs is amazing. I’ve had a couple of logos created on there.

    If only there was a wordpress section itd probably be my homepage 😛

    Some of the website designs on there are phenomenal, the only downside is you then have to pay to get them sliced up afterwards (unless you have the know-how!).


  3. Clarke

    @Greg I have been an Affiliate for so long now it’s come as standard for me to work on speculation basis. I work on some programs in the hope I make money and I don’t, others I get paid more than some staff working at the company get, so it has it’s ups and downs. If designers want to offer services in this fashion that is their choice. My choice is to employ 2 full time designers here in the UK and from time to time seek new or interesting ideas from outside the companies and hands down 99designs has been totally great and I have paid out on every contest, indeed I even asked if I could pay a couple of chaps for the extra effort they put in but didn’t win on, 99designs didn’t have that option back then and so I contacted them and arranged a paypal payment for the 2 “runner ups” that showed extra effort, I think you can award runner ups now.

    I do understand designers point of view also, but I honestly think it’s like a pitch you might get, put in all the work and get nothing in return. You wouldn’t do this type of work but others will and that’s the point, it’s useful to some and no use to others.

  4. Greg Findley

    Hi Clarke,

    I understand your points, but to compare it to affiliate marketing isn’t a fair comparison IMHO. With affiliate marketing the potential upside is much greater as there’s potential for that income stream to continue for some time, and not just be a one-off payment for work completed. But I see where you’re coming from!

    I was just trying to illustrate some of the drawbacks from a designers point of view, I can see the upside for those commissioning the projects, and indeed for those who’ve always been used to entering contests as a choice for gaining work. Good to hear you have some UK designers and that you have rewarded runner-up prizes in contests.

    It’s been an interesting area of discussion, and I’m sure it will continue to be! 🙂


  5. Clarke

    @Greg for sure it will be an interesting area of discussion to come for some time. David who is my main designer at UK Internet Sites basically said I can’t compete with these guys and he is right, one person can’t against 50+ others but I am not asking him to do that and too be fair he sees is less of a threat these days as ultimately he the one tiding up the final designs, setting up the sites, business cards and doing all the other things that frankly I wouldn’t have someone who was not employed or permanently contracted do.

  6. Jason Aiken

    Hi Clarke,

    Thanks for sharing your experience using 99designs to source custom graphic design work.

    Hi Greg,

    It is important to note that 99designs exposes designers to thousands of opportunities every month that they would not normally have been exposed to.

    Rather than spending time searching for work, writing proposals and otherwise marketing themselves – using 99designs, designers are able focus on doing what they love – designing. And 99designs acts as a powerful sales funnel for designers – when they win a project it often leads to a variety of direct follow on work because they now have a qualified relationship with that client. You can read more about designer experiences with 99designs by looking at the profiles on our blog.


  7. Greg Findley

    Hi Jason,

    Good to see 99designs picking up on posts like this, and yes thanks I understand that side of it, was just playing devils advocate to be honest.

    Whilst on the topic, are the majority of the designers on the site based in the States?


  8. Jason Aiken

    Hi Greg,

    Between 30-40% of the design community is US based. The rest is spread all across the globe.


  9. Pete

    I’m not getting into this debate here, Clark knows my point of view and I have enough respect for him than to clutter up this blog post.

    With my hypothetical hat on however, what I will say would put be off-putting in submitting a design would be that of copyright control and assignment. It’s something may designers, especially in the early days don’t think about.

    By submitting a design or concept, that unique piece of work should be, by rights, the property of the designer. Change of ownership to that work should only change when (and if) the work is paid for. If we’re talking spec work up-front then that’s fair no?

    I’ve read a lot of examples of clients getting their design concepts, not picking a winner and paying no-one at all, while of course they’ve helped themselves to a buffet of free ideas. Not saying it happens all the time, but it does happen. If that was a traditional client / designer relationship there would be contracts and legality in place to prevent this situation arising.

    I’ll admit I don’t know all of 99designs or other spec design services t’s and c’s so I’m not making assumtions, I’d just like to know more about what is inplace to protect the designers, as without them, there is no business.

  10. Jorge

    Thanks for the advice,

  11. Quatreus

    I know quite a few designers that use 99 designs to suppliment their income, or in times or unemployment etc, to put food on the table! Therefore i have nothing bad to say about the place! Hey, if it’s getting people noticed, work, or recognition for good work, i’m all for it!

    I see Pete’s point about people jacking the ideas for their own ends and paying nobody – pretty awful, but bound to happen with something like 99 designs, ultimately it will attract penny pinching sorts that will happily never cough up for work, unfortunate, but expected. – Even though it shouldn’t be!

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