Starting a Project on 3 Online Marketplaces

As ConceptDrop’s Summer Marketing Intern, I was curious to see a customer’s viewpoint when submitting a project through online creative marketplaces. I decided to compare the project submission process of three companies: 99designs, Upwork, and of course, ConceptDrop. Before beginning, I came up with a brochure I would consistently be “submitting” on each platform.


First Impressions:

From the moment I entered the site, its bright colors and unique design caught my attention. It felt almost as if it was designed with a younger demographic (like myself) in mind. A slideshow of example projects lead my gaze to the “get started” button.

The Process:

Next, I selected the brochure option and clicked to start a contest. The following step consisted of filling out a project brief. I was asked to outline my target audience, visual style, types of folds, the size of the paper, and what was required on each side of the project. Many suggestions were listed for each question and the process of filling out an answer wasn’t too difficult, as long as you knew exactly what you wanted.

At the end of the brief, there were different design packages to choose from. I selected the middle option of the three for $799 and there was also an option to customize a package. The last portion was deciding on a contest title. Suggestions and examples of top performing titles were given, and I was also provided with the option to promote the contest. The 7-day contest was free, but shorter contests could cost up to $80 extra.

Overall Assessment:

I appreciated the organization of the 99designs platform when beginning the submission process, but was disappointed to find that it would take a week just to find a freelancer and during that time, no work would be done on the project. Overall filling out the brief and finding the information necessary took me a total of about 15 minutes.


First Impressions:

Upwork had two different buttons towards the top and center of their homepage–the first labeled “post a job” and the second, “get started”. Not sure which to select, I found a search bar in which I typed in the project I was planning to submit. When typing out “brochure”, three suggestions popped up, “graphic design, logo design, and illustration”. I wasn’t sure which to pick. If I was making a brochure for a restaurant would I be needing all three? And what exactly did Upwork define as an illustration?

The Process:

I decided to select the “get started” button where I was asked to fill out a series of questions when creating an account. I was first prompted to decide what type of work I needed. As someone with no real design experience, I honestly didn’t know what category a brochure would fall under. There were two types of work that I thought would fit, “design and creative” and “sales and marketing”. Neither option really included any description and I was only allowed to select a maximum of one.

After going back and forth, I decided to choose “design and creative”, where I was then asked what type of skills were required for the project. Again, because I don’t have a lot of design experience I really wasn’t sure. And to be completely honest, I didn’t even know the difference between some of the items listed. The following section requested information on project duration. The shortest amount of time to complete a project was within a week.

Overall Impressions:

I filled out a series of more questions specific to my position and the size of my company, not realizing that all of those steps were just to complete my profile. Now, I had to begin the task of starting a project, where I was asked several questions that I had already answered while creating my account. Finally, after about 15 more minutes of additional questions regarding being billed hourly, preferred freelancer qualifications, and creating screening questions for the freelancer, I could post my project. All in all, I felt that most of the site was well laid out, however, with my limited amount of design knowledge, the redundant fields and questions were confusing and difficult to answer at times.


First Impressions:

The second I went onto the site, I was greeted by a $25 off pop up for my first project. It was something that caught my attention and I was grateful for some sort of discount when starting my first project. I had two options when beginning, I could either select a “Get Started” button, or I could “Request a Demo”.

The Process:

I decided to get started and registered for an account. After registering, I was immediately sent to a page of project categories, each included an image and description. The layout gave me a clear understanding of my options, and better yet, a brochure option was right there on the page, with no need to go searching.

I named the project and began its brief. Then, I was prompted to choose the type of brochure I would be needing. Each option was paired with an image explaining what they meant by the different folds and how the final product would look. I had an option of three different times for the project to be delivered, which altered the price in the top-right corner. I selected the middle option, which guaranteed the project would be completed and delivered within 48 hours. Different from the other marketplaces this was not when I’d find a freelancer, but the time it would take to actually complete the brochure.

Overall Impressions:

Before submitting my project, I had the exact price it would cost and date/time I could expect the final product. This was something unique to the other sites I had visited previously.  In addition, two hours of revisions with the freelancer was also included in the cost, something that was never mentioned on 99designs or Upwork. Overall beginning the project and filling out the brief took me about 15 minutes and had I pressed submit, I would have been paired with a freelancer within the next half hour who could start designing the brochure immediately.


Overall the beginning stages of outsourcing to online marketplaces wasn’t too difficult. All three platforms had a pretty clear layout and instructions. When it comes to determining different services, something I looked at was the length of time it would have taken me to not only find a freelancer but also to complete a project. ConceptDrop was the only platform that could give me a definite deadline on when I would be receiving a finished project. Further, as someone who doesn’t have a background in design, I found it most beneficial when 99designs and ConceptDrop gave images or examples with the descriptions. Each marketplace had positives and helpful features, but overall I found myself leaning toward the platforms that required less time and provided more information: ConceptDrop.

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