By Rebecca Lutz, Founder & Creative Director at LUTZstudio
Your company’s visual brand—its logo, website, marketing materials and overall visual presence—is what your customers or clients will mentally associate your business with. It’s often the first impression you’ll give, so it’s crucial that you make a good one!
This makes hiring the right freelance graphic designer an all-important task. Making the right choice now will benefit your business and save you both time and money in the long run.
(Editor’s note: To learn more about why good design matters, read how better design launched Outta The Park Eats)
I have had several clients come to me in desperation. They were exhausted by working with their previous freelance designer choice(s) and had nothing to show of quality. What’s worse, they had often compromised their initial budget and timeline in the process.
To help spare you this trouble, here are a few simple steps that you can follow to ensure you are choosing the perfect designer from the start.
Create a project list
First, compose a list of your specific graphic design needs so you will have something to refer to. If you need a logo, write it down. If you need social media pages designed, put that on the list as well.
When you physically write out everything you need, you can clearly articulate your different project needs to the designers you will interview. This makes it easier to see whether they can meet your needs and provide your business with the value you are looking for.
Create a list of freelance graphic designers
Research different designers and compile a list of your favorites.
You can start by asking your network if anyone knows of a good, reliable designer. You can also post a job on an online workplace such as oDesk.com or Elance.com; make sure to include your list of deliverables so appropriate freelancers can apply, and consider also searching for freelancers on the site who appear to meet your needs and inviting them to apply.
The two most important things to look for in a freelance designer are their portfolio, and feedback or testimonial references.
Look for someone with an outstanding portfolio of work samples, one that indicates they’re capable of creating a strong foundation on which you can build your visual brand.
Additionally, only connect with designers who have received excellent feedback, so you know they’re not only great at what they do but also able to provide you with a fantastic overall experience.
Determine your budget
How much should you be prepared to pay a designer? Set aside enough to invest in someone who can really bring you the quality and design style you want.
Hire an experienced designer upfront and you won’t be disappointed. Hire one or two amateur designers and you might get lucky with the work they deliver, but you may not—which will put you back at the beginning and require more time and money.
If your initial startup budget is tight, know that many fabulous designers will be open to negotiate their posted prices in exchange for consistent, ongoing work with your company.
Interview potential freelancers
Once you know your budget, begin interviewing your list of designers. Here are a few interview questions to consider:
- Are you skilled in all of the areas on my project list? Can you provide some relevant work samples for me to review?
- I noticed a logo you designed from your portfolio and am interested to know how you came to this design by deciphering your client’s specific project needs. Could you take me through your design process?
- Do you design your logos in fully scalable vector format? (This is important for quality)
- What is your current availability?
- Is my timeline reasonable for our first project together?
- What are your payment requirements?
- Do you believe my budget is reasonable for the task?
Hire your designer
Chances are, after the interview process, you will most likely know which candidate is best for the job. If you’re unsure, hire your top choices for small test projects; this will help you see how they work, and determine which freelancer is the best fit for you.
When you’re ready to hire, make sure you clearly communicate the needs of each element of your project. If it’s a more involved project, like a logo design or website, your designer will send you a design brief full of their own questions before they begin work. Spend time answering each question so you can give them a clear picture of what you have in mind. Once your designer has everything they need to get started, let them work their magic!
By following these simple steps, you’ll be set with a designer who can give your company the professional presence it deserves.
Fellow designers, it’s your turn: Is there anything else you wish clients knew before they contacted you? Add your advice in the comments section below!