Clean site design of Demly

Demly: Diving into
the Competition

Is Demly biting off more
than it can chew?

Freelance is a competitive business, that’s a fact. It’s no surprise then that we are beginning to see a boom in online freelance services, especially in the realm of design. People need work done and people need to work, so it only makes sense to use technology to connect them, right?

But when does the market become too fractured to do any real good? And how do these sites maintain integrity and quality control? Demly thinks they might have a solution.

If they do, the question is: can they pull it off? Their biggest challenge being the other businesses in the field, some of which are giants.

The Industry

Before we dive in and a start breaking down the competition of online design freelance platforms, we should take a look at the industry as a whole to better understand what we are looking at.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage of a freelance graphic designer is $23.85 per hour. Of the 194,360 individuals claiming this occupation, only 25% of them make over $60k annually. Less than 10% make over $80,000.

With an average $49k annual income, there has been a small growth in the employment volume: 0.9%.

Needless to say, the above claims about competition are valid and the highest payed designers in the country likely don’t choose this career course. This does validate a market with a sizable worth, though — making it an equally competitive market to enter for those wanting to just develop the freelance platform.

Demographically, these workers fill some odd but expected sectors. Check out these other statistics about freelance designers:

75% of freelancers are male.
Less than 45% learned their design skills from a college or university.
More than 50% live in cities with populations lower than 1 million.
Nearly half do freelance full-time.
The most common pain point of the demographic: “Pay is not as high as expected.”

The Competition

The market is crazy right now, to be frank. Just off the top of my head, a few come to mind. With a little research, a solid handful of large platforms surface all taking up marketshare from rookie Demly.

Traditional Style is likely the oldest model of this sort of service — in both style and chronology. Dating back to 1996, they have had a long time to build a reputation in the market and partner with companies like: Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and IBM. They are a stiff competitor, but lack some of the innovative styles and processes that newer platforms are offering. is a close second to the above powerhouse and testament of time. Elance focuses on creative occupations, which helps funnel jobs for designers into the company. In just the past 30 days, they have had over 125,000 jobs posted. Their partnerships include Microsoft, Cisco, and The Disney Company.

Contest Style

Established at the beginning of 2008, DesignCrowd takes a different approach to the prior freelance platforms. The system breaks down to a contest format with designers working and pitching their work to job posters, with no promise of any monetary return. While challenging, the platform is doing very well and continues to grow.

Launched also in 2008, this platform works almost exactly the same. 99designs focuses on specific design projects more and adds a tiered scale of quality for design work. This aspect provides some budgeting direction for the customers, making it very enticing.


Thumbtack offers a newer, unique approach to the problem of connecting clients with freelancers. Their service notifies freelancers of new listings via SMS, then those professionals review the brief and submit a blind quote to the client for a small fee, then the chosen quote gets the job. Simple enough. An interesting thing is that this platform champions finding localized work, with setting distance limitations and client options for face-to-face interaction with their professional.

A small change from the original, freelancer offers services that allow you to see many proposals at once while working digitally in real-time with whoever you hire.

The sphere of coworks offers solutions that give you curated workers while giving you final options yet. A brief is submitted, processed, and then a team “hand-selected” for your project. After selected, the team submits a series of proposals for you to select as your final work.

Out-of-Left Field

Fiverr’s whole basis is affordability. The work done on this site is typically within the $5 range, depending on individual freelancers and packages. Needless to say, you get what you pay for: cheap, unoriginal design typically.

While Angie’s List is primarily target toward more contractor heavy, physical services, there is a growing amount of design freelancers on the platform.

A much smaller competitor, Matchbook tires to supplement freelancers based on local opportunities. Their platform spans creative, technical, and consulting fields.

These examples outline a lot of different options of competition for Demly. Personally, I think they might be too late to the game. At the same time, there is obviously no one solution in this industry… yet. They might have a chance, but only time will tell.

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