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How to Hire a Graphic Designer: 9 Brilliant Tips for Entrepreneurs

Yes, even die-hard DIYMarketers need to know how to hire a graphic designer. Why? Because graphic designers are the alchemists of the marketing world.

Let me explain.

Graphic designers are — TRAINED. Just like you are trained to do what you do.

Graphic designers are like professional chefs — you can follow the recipe, but yours just doesn’t look and taste as good as what a professional chef creates.

Me vs Graphic Designers — Guess who does it better?

You know how you go over to Canva or Visme or any other graphic design tool that has dozens of professionally designed templates? Then you find a template you like. And then you customize this template and what do you get?

Blech.

Take a look at this — on the left is the Canva template. On the right is my lame attempt at customizing it.

how to hire a graphic designer comparing professionally designed template with self-designed template

There’s no doubt that the template is a much better design. And, even though I worked very hard to stay within the template and add my design — I failed.

1. Hire a Graphic Designer Right Away

The best time to hire a graphic designer is — right away. Even a mediocre graphic designer is better than doing it yourself.

When you hire a graphic designer right away, they can help build the graphic foundation of your brand. They can develop your logo, colors, guidelines and templates that you can then customize as you move forward.

In short. The sooner you hire a graphic designer, the better.

Whether you are looking to create a logo, display your products or share information, the graphic design of your project is key to its success. To produce quality work that will make an impact it is important to consider who you hire and how you can ensure they meet your needs.

2. Prepare a Brief That Describes Exactly What You’re Looking For

The best way to get great design on a budget is to have a detailed design brief about what you’re looking for.

Here’s what you want to include in your design brief:

  • A clear description of your ideal customer
  • Your marketing message – how you position your brand and why
  • What types of products and services you sell and what problems they solve for your ideal customer
  • Websites and magazines your ideal customer reads and likes
  • The personality of your brand
  • What brand colors you want to use
  • Examples of sites and graphics you like and why you like them
  • Examples of sites and graphics you DO NOT like and why
  • Examples of your competitors’ sites and marketing materials
  • Do you want illustrations or photos

3. Research the designers skills and match to your needs

Before hiring a graphic designer, it is important to research what it is you are looking for in a graphic designer.

There are many different types of graphic designers and the role can be quite varied depending on the project and company.

For example, there are graphic designers who are experts at taking a vague concept and coming up with a whole look and feel. And then there are designers who are great at taking a concept that you have and making it look beautiful.

Some designers are great at illustrations and others a better with photos.

Yep — there is a design specialty for absolutely every aspect of design.

When you’re looking at designers, be sure that the designers you’re matching their skills to your needs.

4. Decide on a budget BEFORE you hire someone

Deciding how much to spend is important for two reasons. First, you need to be able to afford the cost of a graphic designer. Second, it will help you narrow down your search when checking out potential candidates and deciding who should do the job.

You can find some general guidelines by looking at industry standards and common prices for design work in your area. For example, if you want only one or two pieces of artwork done, then most designers will charge somewhere between $40 and $150 per piece depending on size and complexity. If you are looking for an entire rebranding package (logo design with stationary and website), expect to pay anything from $1,000 – $5,000 depending on scope of work (how many designs need creating)

5. Evaluate designers on various marketplaces

Once you’ve decided to hire a graphic designer, the next step is finding one. There are many ways to go about this.

My best recommendation is to work your way up the different marketplaces out there.

There are two types of marketplaces; project based and designer based.

99designs

99designs is a crowdsourced, project based platform specifically for graphic designers. It’s, bar far, my favorite, highest value platform for getting everything including logos, websites, printed materials, and an entire brand.

One of the best reasons to use 99designs is their project brief. They walk you through everything I just talked about.

Packages start for as little as $350.

Upwork

Upwork is another great place to find and hire a graphic designer. I have used Upwork to hire my entire virtual team.

Upwork is a great choice if you already know how to hire a graphic designer, you know what you want and you have a lot of the basics covered.

Fiverr

Our Pick for Simple Projects

Many business owners have had a lot of luck in finding great designers on Fiverr. Personally, I’ve not been one of them. Fiverr designers are the best value and my experience has been that you get what you pay for.

But, I still encourage you to give it a shot especially if you only want something specific like a book cover or social media posts. Again, it’s best if you already have brand guidelines.

6. Check their work history and examples of completed projects

All designers will have portfolios for you to review. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask for examples.

Here is what to look at when you review their portfolios:

  • Do all the designs look similar or do they vary based on the look and feel of the brand?
  • Do you think that the designs match the type of brand that they are designing for?
  • Do the designs look “current” — meaning do they look like other designs you’ve collected in your research.
  • Do they use mostly illustrations or photos — are they doing what you are going to ask them to do?

7. Make a shortlist and interview each candidate by phone or in person.

Once you have a shortlist of graphic designers, it’s time to interview them by text , by phone or in person.

If you’re using any of the marketplace platforms, you’ll be able to chat with designers right on the platform. I’ve done this multiple times, and I find that it’s just as good as a phone interview.

I’ve also done phone interviews with designers and while it was helpful, I have to say that I prefer text conversations because it’s easier to share examples and have a record of your conversations.

8. Make sure schedules and expectations are clear

This is a conversation about how your work style and their work style mix. For example, how do each of you prefer to communicate; email, phone, text, etc.

Another critical element of this step is to make sure that you clearly communicate your expectations when it comes to deadlines and

9. How to choose the best designer for your project

With the options I gave you, there’s a good chance that you’ll have more than one designer to choose from.

How do you know which designer to choose?

Ultimately, it’s a function of chemistry. After having spoken with and engaged with your designers, which one do you feel “gets” you, your brand and what you’re trying to accomplish.

Don’t underestimate the power of chemistry and a sense of understanding. If you have good chemistry with your designer and can have a quality conversations about expectations and ideas, your deliverable will be much better.

A good graphic designer should be professional, creative and efficient at communicating and working with clients to ensure the desired outcome for all parties is achieved.

  • They should be open and honest about what they can do and cannot do — as well as whether or not they feel they are a good fit for your business.
  • They should ADVISE you and you should consider their opinions seriously.
  • They should ask you good questions, that get to the root of what a good product looks like.
  • They should communicate in a clear and timely manner.

Conclusion

The key takeaway here is that graphic design is key to helping brands stand out. A good designer will be able to leverage their skills, creativity and knowledge of what works for others to help your brand get noticed. The best thing about hiring a designer? They do all the work for you! No need to worry about trying to create something from scratch; just use an expert who knows how it’s done.


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