99Designs and Upwork are considered one of the top sites for finding freelancers. That said, these two are pitted together regularly due to how accessible it is to hire freelancers with a few clicks and the design services they offer. But which one’s better? Here’s our 99Designs vs Upwork review.



99designs landing page

99Designs provides customers with two ways to get designs. First, customers can start a design contest. You can choose from seven categories:

  • Logo & identity
  • Web & app design
  • Business & advertising
  • Clothing & merchandise
  • Art & illustration
  • Packaging & label
  • Book & magazine

Select any category and choose the design you need. For example, select “Logo Design” if you need logo design work. Once selected, click “Get Started.” After that, you can choose from different packages. 99Designs is upfront on how many designs you’ll expect on some packages. However, it’s clear they have a money-back guarantee on certain conditions. Once you choose your preferred package, you’ll fill out a design brief, which will be public once completed!

The second is by browsing their freelance marketplace! You can find more details in the Hiring section on how to hire freelancers on 99Designs!

99Designs added a new option: Studio. This lets you work with an agency. However, the agency focuses only on branding, so you can work with them only if branding is your project.


upwork landing page

Upwork is a general freelance marketplace. It’s easy for graphic designers to set up an account and portfolio to attract customers to purchase their services while competing with other graphic designers. That said, you can find multiple graphic designers working on various design types while others specialize in one design type. Here are the available design services on Upwork:

  • Logo design
  • Branding design
  • Ad and marketing design
  • Packaging design
  • Publication design
  • Presentation design
  • Web design
  • Illustration


99designs logo category pricing page

Pricing varies between these two services. 99Designs offers various fees, depending on the design needed. The cheapest design you can request is a web banner starting at $49.

upwork pricing page example

Meanwhile, Upwork designers use hourly rates. You can find designers charging as low as $10/hr.


99designs freelance page

99Designs lets you browse their freelance marketplace to hire designers. You need to click “Find a Designer.” From there, you can scan the featured designs for various categories. Then, if something catches your eye, click the design and choose between two options. You can send a designer a message or invite them to work!

If you decide to go with the design contest option, you’ll work with your chosen designer briefly. You can talk to them about some minor edits and other design details before completing the design contest.

Upwork also provides you with three ways to hire the best designer.

upwork freelancers

First, you can search for your graphic design project on the search bar. Upwork will pull up the project’s best designers and list details, like job success rate, hourly rate, and profits earned. From there, you can opt to search for designers or hire one on the spot.

Next, you can browse the Project Catalog. This allows you to search for project-specific designs like logos, branding designs, illustration designs, and more! You’ll see the turnaround time and the pricing.

Finally, you can pay for their Enterprise option. They have a Managed Service feature to let their team lead in finding the best freelancers for the job. It starts with telling Upwork experts about your project. Then, they’ll connect you to the best freelancers. Finally, you can use their tools to hire and pay freelancers seamlessly.

Turnaround Times

Turnaround time depends on the freelancer. Upwork freelancers have a 2 to 3-day average turnaround time for projects. Meanwhile, 99Designs freelancers aren’t upfront with their delivery dates based on their profiles.

Pros and Cons



  • Get more design varieties for your projects
  • Covers many graphic design services for various projects
  • Work with a designer again by favoriting them


  • Submitted designs for design contests won’t guarantee quality
  • A money-back guarantee doesn’t work on projects with chosen designs, even if they’re low-quality
  • Freelance profiles should provide more detail for further assessment



  • Connect to top designers with one search
  • Hire designers in three ways
  • More affordable than 99Designs


  • Some designers might work on other designs when you hire them, which means they might not prioritize your work yet
  • Language barriers may be an issue, especially if you’re hiring a more affordable and high-rated designer
  • Refunds aren’t offered for 1-to-1 design projects

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 99Designs Legit and Safe?

Yes because thousands of designers submit their work and complete it for clients. Additionally, it’s safe to use 99Designs. 99Designs ensures that the payment options are credit cards, PayPal, and 99Designs credits.

How Much Does Upwork Logo Design Cost?

It depends on the designer and how you can work with a logo designer for $10/hr.

How Much Do You Pay Upwork?

You must pay a 5% client marketplace fee on freelancer payments. Meanwhile, you also pay a contract initiation fee. This applies to new contracts. Plus, you might pay up to $9.95 for each new contract.

However, Upwork offers discounts on checking accounts. You can contact them to see if you’re eligible.

Final Thoughts

99Designs and Upwork are evenly matched based on their design services and hiring options. On the other hand, Upwork offers much more affordable hourly rates, considering that design contests can go for upwards of $1000+. Plus, designs aren’t even guaranteed.

However, hiring designers manually can become a headache since you must vet and interview them before deciding to work with them on a project. What if you need to work with multiple designers but don’t have a big budget to pay?

Penji is the BEST alternative for 99Designs and Upwork! You don’t need to worry about hiring and pricing. We have the top 2% of designers in our roster. Plus, we offer flat monthly fees. You can scale up or down anytime. Also, you don’t have to worry about contracts. You can cancel anytime without hassle! Those are a few reasons why 25,000 businesses and agencies continue to choose Penji for their design work! 

Want to be part of the club? View a video demo to get a peek at how Penji works before you subscribe!