What You Should Know About Hiring a Professional Graphic Designer
Most small business owners these days have already come to terms with the notion that their business, their brand, needs to be presented professionally and by doing that, have considered employing a professional graphic designer. This can be a scary idea to some – who do you contact? Do you trust them? Are they any good? What are their policies for design work? And the most burning question of all, what do they charge? Like most things, the thought of not knowing the answers to these questions is daunting; uncertainty can often kill an idea before it’s even conceived.
However, hiring a professional graphic designer doesn’t have to be a scary proposition. With a little knowledge (and this blog post) you can go forth and be confident knowing what to look for, what to avoid and how much to plan on spending.
But, first things first – let’s talk about where to find a good designer that meets YOUR needs and budget.
If you want to find a professional graphic designer, don’t go to the great and powerful Google. If you do, you’ll get the people who’ve paid to be listed at the top of the search results (and who may or may not be a good designer). Personally, I wouldn’t go to Fiverr or Upwork either – check out this post about Fiverr and Upwork. If I really wanted to find a good, reputable graphic designer, I’d reach out to my social networks for referrals and recommendations – particularly places like Alignable and LinkedIn that are communities of professionals looking to connect for professional relationships.
I would feel free to reach out on your personal social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) where you can seek recommendations for services recommended by friends in your network. They will probably refer you to a designer’s website, Facebook page or some other network to connect.
The point is, you’re contacting them based on a recommendation and not because they were at the top of the search results. From there, you can probably figure out whether they will fit your needs or not, based on their website, page or online presence. If not..
Professional graphic designers tend to design their own presence much the way they would yours or anyone else. Pay attention to the style of their website/page and look at how often they update it with examples of new work. While this should not be the only deciding factor on whether you work with them or not, it could give you a good indication of how busy they are and whether they care about their online presence. Additionally, look at their work (no brainer) and the voice they use on their own website – does it use proper grammar and spelling and is it written well? If not, it could be a sign of bad things to come. Don’t be too critical though, not everyone is a good grammar gopher.
Other things to look at include their design portfolio for style and content to ensure it’s a match for you, review their pricing (if published) and whether or not they offer free quotes and estimates, and testimonials – people how recommend them, can vouch for their work and are happy with their product. Now, this isn’t to say that after all this, you’ll find the best professional graphic designer ever, but it’ll get you closer than just a Google search.
On average, professional graphic designers can run anywhere from $100 to $850 depending on the project. Some charge by the project, some by the hour. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a good designer with a subscription design service. The most important thing to note here is that good design is never, ever free and it is rarely cheap. It’s always a good idea to get a quote or quotes up front – this is a safe way to find out if you can afford a professional graphic designer or if you need to put some money aside for design.
Typically, most professional graphic designers work on hourly rates that range from $30/hour to $150/hour. That can be pretty steep and out of reach for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Some designers charge by the project – a flat rate that covers the design (and the hours put into it). They might charge an additional fee per round of changes after initial proofing or a rush fee if the requested turnaround time is outside of normal turn times. This is more affordable and workable for most businesses, however, it likely can’t be attached to an hourly rate for tracking purposes.
And then there are subscription design services – or what I like to call “the future of the graphic design industry”. Subscription graphic design services, such as our unlimited monthly design plans, allow flexibility at an affordable monthly rate. It really is a win/win scenario for both clients and designers: Clients get all the design support they need throughout the month for a single monthly rate while designers get the benefit of recurring income and ongoing creative work which keeps them busy and builds their portfolios.
While it varies by designer, most designers work through the design process using supplied content (images and text) by creating proofs that are reviewed by the client (you). It’s best to have your content ready to go before you contact your designer about your project. It’s also a good thing to give your designer plenty of time to work on your piece. Most designers will work through edits and changes until you’re happy with the piece; others may specify how many edits you can make. It’s good to know this (and adhere to their rules) before a project starts.
At the end of a project, depending on the desired deliverables, the designer would give you a print ready (including bleed margins and crop or trim marks) PDF document, the native files (the layered files that were used to create the piece) or web-ready images, optimized for use on the internet.
This is a question you should ask up front – some designers prefer to be paid upfront, others once the job is finished. If the job is big enough, many designers will ask for a deposit before work begins. It’s best to determine payment terms before work begins. If you have a subscription design service, there’s no need to worry since you’ve already paid. At any rate, make sure both you and your designer are clear on payment terms so that everyone’s expectations are met.
There are probably many more questions that could be asked about hiring a professional graphic designer, however, this covers some of the important ones. Do your homework. Only work with a designer that fits your needs and not the first guy that comes up in the search results. Make sure their style fits your business as that will likely be reflected in their work for you. Be aware of costs and choose the best method for you of paying whether by the hour, project or as a subscription. Help make the design process efficient and ask important questions upfront.
Did I miss any questions? Do you have anything to add? Let me know!