Launching Your Design via 99Designs.com

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This short document is the first part of a series describing exactly how we use 99Designs.com to have labels designed for our products.

99Designs.com is definitely not a “cheap” option for getting this done, but they attract top level designers that will produce top-quality results. One of the primary means of distinguishing your product on Amazon and commanding higher prices is in the way your product is perceived (the design of the label and/or packaging).

The 99Designs.com Process

On most outsourcing sites, when you want to get something done, the process looks something like this:

1.    You post a job specification

2.    Outsourcers bid on your project

3.    You decide who to hire based on price, outsourcer reviews, and their responses to you

4.    You hire someone

5.    They do the job

6.    You pay them

In the scenario above, you hope that the job gets done according to your specifications and you are happy with the result.

On 99Designs.com, the process is quite a bit different:

1.    You post your job specification

2.    Designers actually send you draft versions of their work

3.    You select finalists who then send you final versions of their work

4.    You decide on the “winner”

5.    They get paid

6.    You get the final product

99Designs.com actually calls your job posting a “contest,” because designers are literally competing to win the prize (getting paid) for having the best design, and you are the judge.

We absolutely love this concept because designers are very motivated to give you super high quality work. If they do not win, they just worked for free!

Now the downside is that 99Designs.com contests cost more than a fiverr.com gig, or a oDesk.com project. This is negligible though, because you will only be paying for this once for your product, and having a high quality design will give you a competitive advantage for the life of your product!

Our Case Study

As stated earlier, this is the first part of a series of documents that will describe how we use 99Designs.com. The entire process can take as long as 7 days, therefore, we are releasing this document in parts so that you can more quickly follow along our process and start getting your own label designed instead of waiting for us to complete the whole process first.

Step 1. Create Your 99Designs.com Account

This is super simple. Just go to https://99designs.com/signup and create your account.

Step 2. Launch Your Contest

This will take you about 15 minutes or more. You will need to provide the exact details about your requirements.

After you are logged in, go here to get started: https://99designs.com/v2/launch

Then select the type of design you need. As you can see, they offer many different types of design projects you can pick from. Different projects have different costs associated with them based on the skill level required and amount of time it will take designers to create their designs.

In our case, all we need is a label, so we scroll down to the “Packaging & Label” section and click on “Product Label.”

That will take us to the second page of the launch process, where we provide all of the details and requirements to help designers create their contest submissions (proposed designs).

Below are the exact answers I entered in each of the fields on the page.

The first set of questions should be pretty self explanatory so I bundled them together in the screenshot below. They are:

Next we have to provide the actual details about our design requirements. This is in my opinion is where you want to spend the most time and pay very careful attention. In my experience, you need to try and be very concise, and explain things in very simple terms so that the designers can fully understand what you are looking for. You need to keep in mind that even though these are top quality designers, many of them are not in the US and many do not speak English as their primary language. Try and be very clear and do not write very long paragraphs as they are harder to read.

Below is the exact information I submitted in this field to launch our design.

Note how I described the project. First I told them the product I am launching and what I need. Then I gave them the specifications of what I must have on the label. In my case, I kept it very generic and only specified what I wanted as the product name and left the rest of the design up to them.

I specified the “quality” or “type” of design I want, which is “simple and elegant.” Of course, this is very vague, and I want it to be that way so that I let their creativity flow.

I told them how it will be printed, which I think is important. In our case, the label will be transparent and will go over a white bottle, so they will choose colors that will work well with this.

Notice how I also asked that they provide a 3D Rendering using the sample bottle image I will attach to the project in the next section. I have not done this before. I fact we hired a designer after the label was designed to create our 3D Rendering in the past, but I figured I would try to squeeze this in. Will see what happens. 

Finally, I told them the additional information I need on the label, which is our contact information, UPC code, and other required information, such as ingredients list, which is also contained in the attached document.

Pretty simple and pretty clear information, right? Not extremely detailed as far as the design itself goes. If I had a particular color scheme I wanted, I would have specified it here, but I chose to leave this up to them on purpose.

The next step is to attach any files that may help them. You will need to get the specification from your supplier for the labels. In fact, the supplier should be able to send you templates to go by. Here are the ones we received from our supplier, which I attached to the project, and mentioned in the description.

File 1. The label template we received from our supplier with the required details.

File 2. The sample bottle image they can use to create the 3D Rendering

The final question is if you have any additional information to communicate to the designers. I use this to reiterate some of the points I already made above that I want them to pay particular attention to.

When you are done providing all the information above, click the “Next” button to continue the process of launching your contest.

Now you will decide on the parameters of your contest, which will also dictate the final price. All the options are well described on the page, so I will not review them all, but rather just why I chose specific ones.

First, you will select your package “level.” As you can see the higher levels come at a higher cost, but also provide additional benefits, which can range from just more designers who will submit entries, all the way to having a dedicated account manager (Gold+), and only handpicked designers (Platinum) who will enter the contest.

We are satisfied enough with the Bronze package, so that is what we selected.

Next we skip a bunch of options and go directly to the Contest Preferences. Here we decide to make it a “Blind Contest” and we “Guarantee the Contest.”

Making it blind means that designers cannot see each other’s submissions. Designers prefer this because only you can see their submissions and other designers cannot copy and just slightly tweak their work.

Guaranteeing the contest means you will definitely select a winner. If you do not chose this option, you have the right re-launch the contest if you do not like any of the entries. If you chose this option, like we did, you are saying before the project starts that you will award the prize to one designer. As you will see, you will work with designers throughout the process and there is plenty of time to get them to make modifications, etc and tweak their designs to make sure you are happy with the final product, so we highly recommend you chose this option. It will make designers more likely to bid as they know you are serious and one of them will get paid for sure.

One other option which we did not select in this case, but I would strongly recommend you consider selecting (and paying for) is to make this a Private Contest. When you do this, your project will not be indexed by the search engines and it will not show up in the 99Desgins.com site gallery either.

Then we skip a bunch of other options and tell them how quickly we need this design. I like to go with 7 days, because it gives me time to communicate with designers and get changes made to their proposed designs, keeping in mind there might be timezone differences.

If you run out of time and are not yet ready to select a winner, we understand that you can contact 99Designs.com support and ask for them to extend your deadlines, though we have never done this ourselves.

Finally on that same page you will give your project a title. Think of this as a headline to attract prospective designers. Here is what I did.

Once you are done selecting your contest parameters, you click “Next” and enter your payment details on the following page.

Once your payment has been submitted, your contest will go live.

What to Expect Next

Once your contest is live, you want to watch it closely. You should receive email notifications each time an entry is submitted, but you SHOULD NOT just rely on this. Make sure you log in and keep checking the stats on your contest as often as you can.

The way 99Designs.com structures a 7-day project is that during the first 4 days, designers will submit their entries and when this expires, you must select one or more finalists to go to the finalist round, which will last 3 more days. You must then select a winner.

This means that the faster you give designers feedback and ask for tweaks to help them win the contest the better your final product will be.

You should start seeing design entries come in within 24 hours or so, and once they start coming, they will come pretty fast.

Some Early results

As I write this document, which is about 8 hours after I launched the contest, I did not expect to have any submissions yet, but I just checked and I have three of them, so you get the benefit of learning stuff I did not expect to cover until the next part of the follow-along. 

To view your submissions, look at your list of contests and click on the title of the contest you created.

From the list you will be able to immediately see the proposed designs with the most recent submission showing up first.

Here is what the list looks like right now…

Each image box has a few options you can select. For example, you can assign a star rating, you can leave feedback, you can award he winner, you can report the design (if it violates terms or is offensive), and you can eliminate the design.

The option to award the winner should only be used in this phase if you are absolutely thrilled with a particular design and you are ready to end the contest. Once you do this, there is no gong back

You will most often eliminate designs and leave feedback. Note that designers can submit multiple entries and they will often do this. Therefore, I prefer not to eliminate any designs that follow the guidelines even if I do not like them much. Because I might like a “mix” of multiple entries from particular designer and then I can give them more feedback to submit subsequent design by referencing previous ones. Designers can also withdraw submissions, so it is a good idea to take screenshots of everything so you have it in case you need to refer them to it. DO NOT send a designer copies of another designer’s work when running a blind contest

You can click on the design to see a higher resolution image of their submission. Designers will often put a watermark over their design to prevent being ripped off. Just keep this in mind. Your final design will not have a watermark and they will transfer all copyrights to you for the design.

You will note that the middle option is completely irrelevant. It does not follow any of the specifications I provided. I was very clear that the sample bottle image was to be used and that I needed the information on our label template in the design. Here is what this submission looks like.

Talk about a LAZY designer. I have never actually seen such disregard for the specifications provided. I can only guess that he uploaded the wrong image. Now I have to decide whether I send him feedback and let him know or if I just eliminate this design. Hm… I’m feeling nice and since I only have three to comment on so far, I will send him feedback and let him know this is not acceptable. If I saw this tomorrow, when I think I will have 20+ submissions, I would simply eliminate.

Here are the other two designs. As you can see, they are not bad.

The first designer created a very simple design, and actually created both the 3D Rendering mockup as well as the flat printable label.

The problem I see with this design is that this designer did not include the complete ingredients list. Probably because he tried to make the UPC fit on that side.

BE CAREFUL with your ingredients list if your product requires it. This is something you want to check carefully in the final design.

I will admit that that fitting that much information plus a UPC code on such a small label is going to be tough. I knew that going in, but I wanted to push these designers to see what they can do. What we will probably do is shorten the description and directions text a whole bunch and put the UPC code on that side.

The third submission also has some problems, but it is the best design so far in my opinion.

See if you can spot the issues based on my specifications and other visual problems…

The first problem is that he only submitted the 3D Rendering. He should have submitted the flat label as well. This is a very small problem.

The second problem is that this is not a true 3D Rendering of the label on the bottle. If you look at the previous submission, you will see the text “curves” on the bottle to make it look 3D, which this designer simply applied the label on top of the image using Photoshop.

Is that a big issue? No, not at the stage. The final design must be 3D-looking, so I will just send him feedback, but you have to keep in mind these designers do not even know if they are going to get paid, so some shortcuts like this are allowed in my book. 

The third problem is that I said I wanted it to say “Vitamin C Serum by Bianca Ferosi” and he did it backwards. Again, not a big deal. I actually like it the way he has it, so I might just ask for a second submission with the original request and compare the two.

You might sometimes find that a designer sometimes submits something that does not match the original request and you end up liking, and vice versa.

The last item is that I don’t know if the UPC is large enough or has enough clearance on the sides to make it readable by a scanner. I need to check on the specifications… but I like how he thought about making it work without removing any text like the previous designer.

The Bottom Line

As you can see we are well on our way to getting an awesome label designed, and it’s only been about 8 hours! Now we just keep watching for more submissions and keep sending as much feedback as possible to guide each designer to create the best entry possible for the contest. Remember to be clear and concise because English might not be their first language.

Additional Tip

When you click on a submission, on the top right of the page with the full size image you will see the designer’s name (handle). If you click on it you can see designs for previous contests they have won. This can give you a great idea of what they are capable of.

Continuation of the completed design may see https://businessezine.net/99designs-label-design-examples/

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