During the last months, I’ve been trying several unlimited design services and writing reviews about them, which you can find here.
Recently, I had the chance to try Penji, one of the leaders in the unlimited design market.
Here’s my unbiased review of Penji which includes: an explanation of how the service works, an analysis of their pros and cons, a deep dive into the company, and a list of some Penji alternatives.
If you’re already sure you want to go for Penji, click here and use this code to get a 25% discount: FAILORY25
Penji is one of the biggest unlimited design services.
You pay them a monthly, quarterly, or yearly fee and you get access to their team of designers to whom you can make unlimited design requests.
Unlimited? How can that be real?
You can send unlimited requests, but their designers will work on them one by one. So despite you ask for 1,000 logos, they will work on one logo at a time, finishing all the work probably in many months or years.
Why would I go with an unlimited design service?
Because, if you have recurring design tasks that need to be done, but not enough of them to hire a full-time designer, it can be much cheaper than hiring freelancers or agencies.
The way Penji can have so cheap prices is that the same designer that works for you, works for other companies, so his wage is distributed between many businesses.
Here’s all the information about the unlimited design service business model in case you want to learn more.
Pros & Cons about Penji
Here are some of the main benefits of going with Penji instead of other unlimited design services:
Design quality: Many unlimited design services provide work that’s just okay in terms of quality. Penji, in my opinion, is really over most of the other services in terms of quality and innovation.
Dashboard: I think Penji’s internal dashboard, where you can send and manage your requests, is much better than any other I’ve tried. It’s super user-friendly and it has the correct features. I’ve particularly liked the feature to provide feedback to designers by clicking on the delivered work image. I also like that you get links to share the delivered designs with other people as well as a section to see all the past versions of the delivered work on each project.
Brands: Penji makes it super easy for you to create unlimited “Brands” within your account and easily make design requests associated with one of them. This is particularly helpful if you’re an entrepreneur working on various brands or if you’re an agency or business providing services to various businesses.
Price: They are similar or even lower than the standards of the industry. Their “Team” plan pricing includes all the design tasks a business founder may need and turnaround times are perfect. If you’re in a rush or need many design requests, the “Agency” plan and pricing make a lot of sense as well.
Company: The company is great. They care about social issues and do their contribution by donating 10% of the profits and providing their services for $1/month to non-profit organizations. Everyone I’ve talked to in the company has also been really friendly.
Here are some cons of Penji in comparison to other unlimited design services:
Website/app design: It’s not allowed in the cheapest plan. If you’re a business that needs many tasks of this category, you’ll have to go with a plan that’s $100 more expensive (not a big deal). Some unlimited design services offer this kind of design work even in their cheapest plan.
Communication: There’s no other communication method more than Penji’s internal dashboard (which is amazing, anyway). Most other unlimited design services allow you to send and manage requests over email, Slack, etc. You’ll have to add Penji’s dashboard as a new tool to check every day, instead of being able to have everything withing the tools you are already using.
Price: Penji may prove to be expensive if you don’t use it and do many monthly design requests. But that’s a common problem of unlimited design services, not only of Penji (and Penji’s price isn’t more expensive than other services).
Penji used to offer design and development tasks, but it’s nowadays only focused on design.
Here are all the categories of design work Penji’s team does. Some of the most requested ones are:
Social media posts
However, note that not all the categories are allowed on all of their plans. If you get Penji’s “Pro” plan (the cheapest one), you are allowed to request all tasks in all the categories except website & app design, custom illustrations, and infographics. These three categories of work are allowed for users on the “Team” or “Agency” plans.
A lot of people use Penji to get t-shirt designs for print-on-demand businesses, which are really common on the internet lately.
Penji’s team seems to have a vast knowledge of the print-on-demand business model and enjoys working with people who need designs for this kind of businesses.
They have even written an article where they explain how to make money online with Penji and the POD business model.
Penji’s team claim they can design 20-30 t-shirts per month, if you provide them with enough information and approve fast their delivered work. Below is an example of a t-shirt they have created for me.
If the t-shirts have many color variations or scalable designs, they claim to be able to make even 50-100 unique t-shirt designs per month.
All of the designs delivered will be trademark and copyright-free, so you won’t have any issues with the POD platforms. Penji’s team has worked with Red Bubble, Printful, Merch by Amazon, among other POD platforms, so they know their requirements.
If you're decided to subscribe to Penji, make sure to click here and use the cupon code FAILORY25 to get a 25% discount!
The portfolio pages are the most important ones of unlimited design services.
Penji’s portfolio looks really solid and professional. All of their work is modern and fits design rules.
In my personal opinion, their app and website design examples are just okay, but design is really subjective so you may love them.
If you know you’ll be requesting a lot of one specific design, make sure to check examples of that category and even send Penji an email requesting for more of their work in that field.
Here’s a social media post they designed for me:
And here’s a t-shirt based on a quote I sent them:
Penji has 3 plans, which can be paid monthly, quarterly (with a 10% discount), or yearly (with a 15% discount).
Penji gives you freedom, which means you won’t be bound to a contract. Once you subscribe to Penji, you’ll have the option to cancel your subscription anytime without additional cancellation fees.
Another benefit when subscribing to Penji is its 15-day money-back guarantee offer. You can sign up and submit your first design request and try the service for 15 days. If you don’t like it, you request your money and cancel your subscription.
The Pro Plan is suited for companies that only need graphic designs, and nothing else. This is excellent for startups and small businesses wanting to amp up their marketing materials.
It’s priced at $399 a month, and the inclusions are:
I don’t want to make this a tutorial, because Penji’s dashboard is so user-friendly that I’m sure you won’t have any issues using it.
However, I wanted to do an overview of how does Penji work and how’s the process of submitting requests and giving feedback or approving the work delivered.
Once you have become a Penji customer, the first thing they recommend you to do is to set up your brand details.
Logged in into the dashboard, go to “Brands”. You’ll see this:
If you click “Create brand”, you are asked to fill a form with the following fields:
Description of the brand
Brand guideline (you can upload a file)
Brand colors (you can select various by writing their Hex codes).
Attachments (you can upload other files, like logo, icons, fonts, etc).
If you run an agency, the Brands section is really powerful, as you can set up a Brand for every client you have and it that way avoid Penji’s designer confusion on which colors, fonts, logos, etc they should use on each of your requests.
Once the brand is added, you can click on it and you’ll see all the tasks requested related to that brand.
The next thing you can do is to invite people from your team to help you send and review design requests.
Note that every plan has a different amount of users you’re allowed to invite, so be careful with the number of invitations you send.
It’s now time to submit a request. Go to the “Project board” section.
Click on “New project”. There, you’ll be asked a title for the project and to select a design category of a dropdown menu. If none of the options there fits what you’re looking for, you can go with a custom project.
Depending on the design category you choose, you’ll be asked different things, but you’ll always have to fill in a description of the project, upload some attachments if you want, select the source file type you want, and choose an associated brand for that task.
Once the project is created, Penji will assign you one of their designers and they will start working on your task. The amount of time it takes them to deliver depends a lot on the type of task you request, but for most of the tasks, 24-48 hours should be enough (they don’t work on Sundays).
Once the first version of the work is delivered, you have the chance to approve it or ask for changes. One of my favorite Penji features is that you can comment your feedback directly into the design, making communication much more effective. You can also make comments on the chat that’s opened between you and your designer.
Revisions are done over the following 24 hours. You can, once more, accept the work or review it until you completely like it. On the side of the chat, there’s a tab where you can see all the versions of the delivered work.
Eventually, you like the design, you download your files and the project is finished. At that moment, designers will start to work on your next project (if you have already submitted one).
Remember you can submit the amount of project requests you want, but designers will work on them one by one.
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Who’s Behind Penji?
Penji’s co-founders Johnathan Grzybowski and Khai Tran used to run a full-service agency offering SEO, web design and development, social media marketing, and more.
But both founders started to feel they lacked the passion that a company should be built on. After a trip to Vietnam, both founders re-assessed their company values and re-evaluated their mission.
Both knew first-hand how challenging it was for entrepreneurs to find reliable graphic design services because they had been in that situation before. Looking for a way to offer a top-notch service that gave startups and small businesses a chance, they came up with Penji’s idea.
Penji was launched on October 21, 2017, with 4 employees. Since then, Penji has grown to 50 employees, which they have taken their time to vet and test. They claim to accept only 2% of the designers that apply to their jobs and to be constantly testing and improving their team’s design quality.
Jonathan and Khai have bootstrapped Penji without any funding to become an Inc 5000 company. Nowadays, they work with more than 1,000 companies, including some incredible ones like Rebook, Lyft, AWeber, and more.
One of the things I like about Penji is how founders want to have some social impact. They donate 10% of their profits to organizations that help people, as well as allow nonprofits to subscribe to Penji for only $1/month.