Melbourne online design marketplace 99designs will reach US$250 million ($340 million) in earnings paid out to designers at the end of the month, with US$50 million ($69 million) paid out in the last year alone.
The platform launched in 2008 with the design contest at the core of its model, allowing clients to put a brief out to the community, designers to submit their ideas, and clients to then pick their favourite design.
The business has, over the last few years, pushed forward with its direct work product, allowing clients to hire a specific designer for a project rather than running a design contest.
According to 99designs, the growth in designer earnings is “largely” thanks to direct work: over a third of all work done over the last year has taken place between clients and designers with an existing relationship on the platform.
Patrick Llewellyn, CEO of 99designs, said the move to direct work has been a “pretty natural progression”, given direct work is the standard way to work with creatives, both online and off.
“We’ve pushed hard to get better at showcasing designers’ profiles and specific skills, and ensuring that clients are connected with the just the right talent they need via our designer search and matching functionality,” he said.
“By providing a product that helps foster working relationships and allows for greater flexibility in terms of scope and size of projects, we’re supporting creatives to work in a way that works for them across a variety of categories.”
The platform is also growing its Pro service, which gives clients assistance in finding a designer and managing a project.
The growth follows the return of 99designs’ headquarters to Melbourne after seven years in the US. The return home, assisted by the Victorian government, came with the business exploring a listing on the Australian Securities Exchange.
“It’s good to be home,” Llewellyn said.
“The ecosystem in Melbourne has continued to grow and thrive and it’s been fun to participate in this first hand again. Our engineering team is also based out of Melbourne so it’s been great to be on the ground with them during this period of really focused product development.”
Fellow Melbourne creative marketplace Redbubble has also seen strong growth, last month completing its acquisition of US-based competitor TeePublic for $57.7 million to further expand its global footprint.
Image: Patrick Llewellyn. Source: Supplied.