Graphic designers can add loads of value to just about anything you seek to achieve, both under personal and business circumstances. It’s one of those talents that everyone thinks they have to an extent, but it’s only when they see the finished results and compare them to those of a professional that they realise that they may be better off going with someone that knows what they’re doing.
A single post to a job board or a relevant Facebook group will see graphic designers flocking to you faster than you may ever have expected, and it’s worth putting in the time to choose the right one with so many available options. In this feature, we’ve brought together our 10 best tips to get your choice right the first time, saving time and money in the process.
1. Look at More than Just Their Website
When we put together articles here at 10 tips for business owners and freelancers, we talk about the importance of a website. One of the main reasons is that it gives them full control over how they showcase their work, which testimonials they wish to display and what their prices are without any commission. However, this works both ways.
Specifically, when you visit a graphic designer’s website, you see only what they have filtered through and chosen for you to see. In many cases, the portfolio you find there is the best of what they can do, and any testimonials they include were vetted beforehand. There are good reasons to go direct, but the first tip is simply not to take everything on their portfolio site at face value.
2. See Where They Stand on Social Media
Social media is a combination of words and pictures, and it makes sense that graphic designers will capitalise on this obvious opportunity to stand out. If they don’t, or if the quality of the images on their social pages doesn’t measure up to their website, you may need to ask more questions or move on to the next candidate.
3. Don’t Ignore their Website
As noted, you shouldn’t always take the website for granted, but once you narrow down your search, it is more than capable of adding value. We spoke on how the portfolio pieces there represent their very best work, and once you’ve progressed through the recruitment stage, their best is what you’re after. This is also the best place to find their best prices, without the commission of job boards and agencies, and direct contact details so you know how to reach them quickly.
4. Decide Early Whether Location Matters
Most graphic design work takes place online, and it’s usually only employed designers that show up to the same office every day. However, if you have a particular vision that would benefit from face to face interaction, it can be worth choosing a designer that is local enough to meet in person. This narrows your options and may increase your costs, so it’s worth thinking long and hard about.
5. Ask About Any Specialist Skills
You may just need a logo and a business card today, but if a designer you have in mind specialises in designs for exhibition stands, that could be just what you need further down the line. Existing relationships are often more comfortable than new ones, so if a designer has unique talents that you don’t need now, but may in the future, it can be worth starting a dialogue now.
6. Define Whether They’re Agency or Freelance
While this doesn’t impact on the quality of the work you receive in most cases, it can guide you on the kinds of costs to expect. Agencies have more expenses to cover and usually charge with growth and management in mind – you’re generally paying for more than your designer’s time. For freelancers, they can often be more flexible and won’t have the same additional costs to cover. With that said, if you feel that two heads may be better than one, the additional ideas, cover for sick leave and other benefits may be just what you need.
7. Ask About their Processes
Before you hire, you should try to understand how a freelancer you consider carries out their business. Enquire as to what kind of samples you’ll receive, how they mock up your ideas, and how many images you can expect before you get them to work on the final piece. This not only offers insight into what to expect but how long the project will take and how much thought they put into each one.
8. Always Consider Cost
In such a personal occupation, we’re loathe to say that you get what you pay for. However, the chances are you have a budget in mind and, no matter how great a pitch or portfolio, you should always endeavour never to go over that amount. It might mean you miss out on top talent, but you can console yourself in knowing that you haven’t overspent on someone who is not quite as good as they think they are.
9. Understand the Terms Before You Sign Anything
Many buyers forget about contracts and terms and conditions, especially when using a freelancer. However, they’re as essential for your protection as for theirs, and any vendor should have the requisite documents to hand, so you know what happens in the event of delays or non-delivery, especially if you’ve made a payment up front or work to tight deadlines.
10. Don’t Settle for Good Enough
We started off this feature by saying that it’s not hard to find interested designers if you post your requirements in the right places. With so many options, you should always be willing to go the extra mile to get exactly what you want. Whether that’s a world-class design, a full package for social media or anything else, make your intentions clear and be explicit when you tell your designer what you’re looking for – and that you won’t settle for anything less.