Clevr Thoughts

How to Hire a Freelance Graphic Designer

How to Hire a Freelance Graphic Designer

How to Hire a Freelance Graphic Designer

It’s happened to all marketing pros at one time or another. You need some new collateral designed or some creative ideas but the project is not a good fit for a traditional advertising agency. Maybe the project is too small, or the budget too tight, or the turnaround time is too fast. Regardless of your reasons, hiring a freelance graphic designer is always a viable option.

If you’re a little unsure about how to hire a freelance graphic designer, don’t be. It’s just like working with most other vendors. When it comes down to it, freelance designers are basically small businesses with a single employee.

This article aims to take some of the mystery out of hiring a freelance graphic designer. The first step is really as simple as having a conversation with your prospective designer. Before that, however, there are some things to consider that will help you work with a freelancer and make the project go smoothly.

Choose the Right Freelance Designer

Let’s face it. There is no shortage of freelance designers but not all freelancers are created equal. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a freelance designer to work with.

Experience Matters: When you’re choosing a freelancer you should go with someone with many years under their belt. An experienced designer can help you navigate the challenge of a project when they arise.

Ask for Samples: Any freelancer worth their salt will have a portfolio and preferably their own website. After all they are a small business. They also need to show the type of work you are looking for whether its print ads, digital ads, websites, or video.

Look for Versatility: Having a freelancer that can work on a variety of projects will give you a reliable source you can turn to time and time again. The designer you choose should know how to develop designs across varied media and platforms.

Location, Location, Location: Having a designer nearby or even on-site comes down to preference. Professional freelance designers are always well equipped to work remotely and often times prefer it. However, having your designer in the same city can provide the opportunity to meet in person for creative project planning or design reviews.

Choosing the right designer can seem daunting at first but go with your gut. Talk to your designer or better yet, meet with them face to face. Make sure they know their stuff and can communicate ideas effectively.

Now that you know what to look for in a freelance graphic designer, you can turn your attention to being prepared for the project.

Anticipating Timing

Last minute projects are to be expected but for the best outcome, give your designer the time they need. In fact, it’s a good idea to get your designer involved in the planning stages of a project. They can be a valuable resource as a subject matter expert and can often provide insights that you may not have considered. An experienced freelancer is as much of a creative consultant as they are a graphic designer.

Budget Appropriately

Most freelance designers charge an hourly rate and that rate can vary widely depending on a number of factors. The biggest determining factor is the designer's experience but one thing to keep in mind is where there is experience, there is efficiency. So even though a less experienced designer may have a cheaper hourly rate, it may take much longer to get a project where it needs to be. That being said, even the most capable freelance designers are often much less expensive than a full-service agency.

Some designers are open to fixed fee projects but before you can agree on a cost, the designer will need to know the entire scope of the project in detail. Regardless of expectation, make sure you get the agreed upon rate and payment structure in writing before you get started.

Get Paperwork Set Up Early

Some companies will want to enter into some type of Master Service Agreement with any new vendors along with a project specific contract agreement. If your designer is working on an hourly rate then a project specific agreement may not be necessary.

Ask your finance or human resources team what documents on top of any agreements they will need to process payment. Typically this includes a 1099 or W4 form for tax purposes and an invoice at the end of the project.

Get Your Ducks in a Row

It’s a good idea to know the entire scope of the project before you engage your designer. Start by building a detailed creative project brief. Having it in writing will not only help you see the full scope of a project but will quickly get your designer up to speed as well. A good creative project brief will contain sections like an overview, objectives, target audience, key messaging, audience takeaways, deliverables, schedules, and preferred style or examples.

Also be sure to communicate potential “landmines” or missteps from past projects that will help your designer stay on course. Sometimes understanding what you don’t want is as important as understanding what you do want.

Defining Deliverables

Communicating deliverables will help the designer understand their role in the project. Sometimes a designer is expected to work on a project from concept to completion and other times they are providing assets for a larger project. Knowing this up front will help the designer organize and prepare the files accordingly.

Compiling Existing Assets

Take time to gather existing assets that can be useful for a project. Having assets such as various logos, fonts, color palettes, and images ready to go will help the designer complete a project much more efficiently. Also having an existing brand or style guide will help the designer create designs that are on brand. If you don’t have a style guide, I’m sure that your designer will be happy to help create one.

Bringing it all Together

You’ve developed a brilliant marketing strategy and have a clear vision of the end result but you need help bringing it all together. A freelance designer can be just what you need. Having an experienced freelance designer that you can rely on is a tremendous resource for any marketing program.

If you’re in search of a freelance designer consider Clevr Designs – a solo venture by freelance designer and marketing strategist Chris Spence.

About the Author


Chris Spence

Chris Spence

Chris Spence is freelance graphic designer and marketing strategist who has been designing materials for branding, advertising, and marketing for over two decades.