How 99designer Chris went from salesman to entrepreneur (infographic)

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99designer Chris (aka thislooksgreat) shares how he went from door-to-door sales agent to a successful entrepreneur — all through 99designs. Here’s his story (transcript found below). 

thislooksgreat

This is a token of appreciation for 99designs, and it’s the least I could do. This platform has changed both my life and the outcome of my businesses, and even though I’m focusing on numbers, the impact far exceeds money. Thank you, 99designs!

Before 99designs

Before 99designs, I was a door-to-door sales agent, selling women’s cosmetics. Pay was commission-based, and my average income was $200 per month. :(

I was living with my parents, my older brother and sister, and 2 cats. I had no knowledge in Photoshop and little experience with Joomla — things weren’t looking up.

Discovering 99designs

I discovered 99designs by chance. I saw it as a big opportunity and I was hoping to win at least one $475 contest per month. I began studying every tutorial I could find, and sure enough my skills grew. During that time, I was heavily into self-development which motivated me.

In late 2010, just after a month of being on 99designs, I won my first contest: $1240. This was an enormous amount of money for me. It gave me wings! So in the beginning of 2011, I started designing like a mad man.

With my earnings plus a loan, I started a bakery shop with a friend. In a few months, I had 2 bakery shops and 2 distribution points in the schools around them. During the summer of 2011, sales were low so I cranked up my design work, and through 99designs I was able to support my business — otherwise it would have gone down, no question. I ended up selling my businesses for a big profit and went into the online business.

Taking care of business

We started ReduceriAzi.ro, a daily deals website, from nothing. We had no experience, but in 6 months we managed to get it into the top 10 daily deal website in Romania (out of almost 100). It was quite a success even though financially times were hard, so 99designs was, again, the solution.

I sold it for 5 figures and immediately bought a bigger, already established daily deal site named e-redus and after a year, I sold it for 5 figures as well. Long story short, I worked in bursts. So when I needed money, I designed. A lot. The rest of the time I took care of my businesses.

Without 99designs

Now, I’m trying to establish an online presence for my Udemy tutorial website. A very large part of it is about 99designs — how to select the best contests, how to work with contest holders, checking the competition, etc. Since I need to create content, I’m back to 99designs. For example, recently in a week I made about 4K from you guys.

In short, I couldn’t have achieved any of these things without 99. Currently I:

  • have a life skill that I can depend on
  • have moved out of my parents home into a nice apartment
  • bought a Lexus GS450 hybrid, a Ford Focus for my girlfriend, and have over $10,000 saved in the bank
  • created an online class on Udemy called Learn How To Make Money with Photoshop, where I teach others how they can do the same thing I did

So to all designers, I’d like to share this piece of advice: work harder than everybody! Nothing beats hard work.

Good luck,
Chris (thislooksgreat)

We’d like to thank 99designer thislooksgreat for sharing his story through this awesome infographic!

Related articles:
How to succeed in the design contest marketplace (infographic included)
How 99designer Niva went from lawyer to full-time illustrator
Mike Kirby: how I quit my day job and designed a top-tier mobile game

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Based in San Francisco, Allison (Alli) Stuart works as Community Manager at 99designs. When she's not writing blogs and communicating with designers, she is working on her Children's Book. She also enjoys extreme sports, like sky diving and traveling to new places. Alli has a Fine Arts Degree with a concentration in Graphic Design from Louisiana State University, her home. Geaux Tigers!