People often ask me about the designers in the community 99designs.com. Who are they, where do they come from, are they professionals or hobbyists… etc. Well I recently chatted with one designer who has become quite prolific on the site over the past few months when the local work available to her design company slowed much more than normal.
Name: Martha Golding
Location: Bluffton, South Carolina, USA
99designs handle: Kelly_Hero
How did you get into design?
My brother built a computer for me back in 1998 and after a couple of months of playing around with it, I ran across some online tutorials for creating web pages. I found it interesting so I took some online classes, bought some books on graphic design and programming, and generally taught myself to develop websites.
At that time, I was pretty unhappy in my job as a Customer Service Manager for a local grocery store. A position opened at a local web design firm so I went for an interview. I got the job and within 3 months was promoted to Head Designer. As time went by, I noticed that a lot of the firm’s clients were being charged thousands of dollars for web design – this was before the “dotcom bust” – but were getting very little in the way of customer service.
With my design skills and customer service background, I felt sure that I could provide a better service on my own. I talked it over with my soon-to-be husband and we decided to start our own design company. In June of 2000, just a little over a year after being hired, I started Lighthouse Design Group and have never looked back.
How long have you been using 99designs?
Since about January (2009). I have known about it since it first split off from SitePoint. I have been a member of SitePoint forever and ever. But I never took the time to really check it out and see what it was all about until about January.
In our business we typically know that we are not going to have any web design work between the end of October and December and then it starts picking back up in January after the holidays.
But this year, I guess because of the economy, we were deader than a doornail. I had no work coming so I had to do something. So I went on to 99designs, started checking out projects and started winning. It really has been a way for me to bring in some extra money and to make up for where we weren’t getting jobs otherwise.
How many projects have you won so far
Well I entered two logo projects at the very beginning and I found out pretty quick that I suck at logo design. So I don’t count those. I have entered about 60 projects and I have won 14.
So the experience has been generally pretty good for you then?
Yeah overall…I did win one project for $1000 dollars and the project holder abandoned it. After communicating back and forth with Nonie…she finally was able to get him to respond via email. He said that circumstances had come up and he wasn’t able to continue so that was pretty disappointing. But I can see where 99designs is trying to make improvements and trying to do the best thing for everybody.
I know it’s had to please everybody and make sure everybody is happy. But yeah I would say that I am pretty satisfied overall. I have 99designs.com up more than any other website.
Have you been able to develop any additional relationships with clients through 99designs?
Oh yeah… There’s one that I won early on for Golden Bingo… he is a guy in the UK. I have probably got a couple of thousand dollars of extra work from him. So instead of him going back through 99designs he comes directly to me.
Not only have I gone on to do additional work for projects that I have won, I’ve had project holders of projects that I didn’t win contact me and ask me to do work for them. I just recently was contacted with an offer to buy one of the designs that I submitted to project that I didn’t win – months after the original project was run. I’ve even had people contact me for work who have never run a project on the site, they had only seen the work I was doing on 99designs.