Any growing business is going to reach the point where you can’t do it all yourself. If you’re looking to hire a freelance designer to create a brochure, website, branding or any other project, here are three things to know before you sign the dotted line.
Before You Hire a Freelance Designer Understand That Success is a Two-way Street
Allow me to break a common misconception about freelance designer. Hiring a qualified designer does not guarantee a successful project.
Most people think, “If I’m paying them $150/hr., then they better be successful!” It’s a valid thought, but they neglect to think of the partnership that is formed when you hire a freelance designer.
The worst thing you can do after hiring a graphic designer is micromanaging them.
By getting in the way of their expertise, you are risking your project and sacrificing your resources. Almost every designer — myself included — have encountered the “nightmare client.” This client is identified by three attributes.
How to Identify Nightmare Clients
- They refuse to change their ideas
If you walk into a logo project demanding your new logo contain the color Velvet Cupcake Red, the font Helvetica, and a unicorn, there’s a good chance you’re going to be a nightmare client.
It’s not that designers don’t want insight from their clients. In fact, it’s often desired because you are the one with the most knowledge about your project and business. But if you refuse to budge on what you think should be done, you’re just preventing the expertise of the professional you hired to complete your project successfully.
- They can’t communicate feedback
Feedback is the structure of a successful project. When a designer sends you a draft and asks what you think of it, they really want to hear what you think! But you’ll end up running them in circles if all you can provide is a thumbs up or thumbs down. Neither one clarifies what’s working and what’s not working. And since part of the success of a project is based on your approval, they need to know the reasons why you like or dislike aspects of their designs.
- They are unorganized
You can expect a failed project, a high bill and a disgruntled designer if you constantly change your deadlines. Or if it takes weeks for you to reply to their emails. Designers have to be extremely organized to manage all their clients.
When one constantly goes MIA, needs to be asked five times for feedback, or puts things off until designs are needed in 8 hours, you might quickly reach the point where your freelance designer fires you!
Some clients aren’t worth the trouble when they don’t give the same respect to their project as the designer does. Getting your ducks in a row before you bring a designer on board will help complete your project with happy faces all around!
Make Adequate Research Before Hiring Pays Off
If you needed a new PR manager, you wouldn’t hire the first person off the street. There would be a process of collecting a pool of qualified candidates, talking with them all, and determining which one would be the best fit for the position. The same mentality should be applied when hiring a freelance designer for a project.
Most business owners or managers tend to select the first designer that lands on their desk. Sometimes, especially if you were referred to them by a trusted source, they will handle your job perfectly. But if you have no idea where to start, approaching it like hiring a new employee can help you find the ideal designer for you.
A Common Filter When Searching for Freelance Designers is Location
Depending on the type of project, you might prefer to work with a local designer. Some of my clients highly value being able to meet their designer face-to-face.
I also work with clients from coast to coast, and internationally. In the digital age, freelance designers aren’t held down by location, so most are open to working remotely. There are a few different concerns to working with a local designer vs. remotely.
When considering hiring a remote designer, the most common concern by the hiring party is being scammed. Only communicating via email or phone call feels like you’re setting yourself up for being hoodwinked.
Meeting a designer in person can appear to alleviate this concern. An alternative for this when hiring remote designers is to look on their website for client testimonials or ask for referrals.
The downside of being constrained to a local designer is narrowing the pool of talent. Unless you’re in New York or Los Angeles, there’s no guarantee you’ll have a large selection of freelance designers to choose from.
Being open to a remote freelance designer grants you access to highly qualified and talented designers that can guarantee success for your project.
For Higher Quality, Expect a Higher Price
Now, I can’t say that every low-charging freelance designer doesn’t provide quality work. Everyone has to start from somewhere. But just like any other trade, skill is acquired through time and experience.
The more hours a tradesperson pours into their craft, the more valuable they are and the more they will cost.
A designer charging $150 an hour is claiming they bring more value to you than someone who charges $10. If you want to fact-check that claim, spend time looking over their work, what their clients have said about them, and their blog (if they have one.) A quality designer will have professional-looking work, raving testimonials and can talk at length and in detail about their industry.
A Quality Freelance Designer Also Brings Strategy and Knowledge to the Table
They will be able to troubleshoot your project and offer improvements. On a variety of projects, I’ve brought suggestions to clients that help drive the project to success. Sometimes it’s suggesting a copy edit so the information is better presented to the reader.
Or it’s proposing a change in style to better suit the desired demographic. An experienced designer should want your project succeed just as much as you do, so they will apply their skill and knowledge to reach the point of triumph.
Another aspect to factor in the price of a designer is supply and demand. Just like economic basics, the more clients a freelance designer has, the higher their price will be. Sometimes there will even be a waiting list. If your project has impending deadlines, you’ll either need to pay out more for a rush fee, or find another designer that can take you on sooner.
Like any other work you outsource to save cost, there is a lot to consider when bringing on a freelance designer. When you’re going to invest a large amount of time, money and resources into a project, you want to be as prepared as possible. Doing your homework beforehand allows you to make the most informed decision of which designer to select and sets you up to be fully satisfied with the final result. When in need of a reliable freelance designer to work with, you can check my portfolio at Creative Chameleon Studio.