We've all seen them: the homemade brochures, logos that use Microsoft Word art, the same lackluster business cards made from a template, the websites that look like they were thrown together in the 90s. When a business person hands you something like that, don't you wonder how they can represent themselves so poorly?
While small business owners are pros at keeping sales, customer service, and other marketing elements ticking along, many draw a blank in graphic design. That's because the high-quality design requires a trained creative professional.
If you are reading this article, your business may have outgrown its plain and simple website. Perhaps you're after website visuals that mimic your packaging design, or even a fresh new logo to stand out against your competitors. For this type of advanced design work, you're going to need some help.
So, how do you even find an artist or designer, much less hire one?
Hiring a freelance artist can be an alien territory for some people, especially if you are from a non-tech background. Who's the best fit for creating your business's logo or adding motion graphics to bring your web pages to life? Like any time you try something new, it's common to take some missteps the first time around. Here are some tips for hiring the right freelance artist for your business, and how to work with your new hire to get the best results.
The key to finding the professional you need is to express what you're looking for clearly. Before you start, you should decide:
The essential element of the design is getting your message across. This message must reflect your company's values, attitude, and purpose, all in one, and your designer needs to be clear on what it is they're going to come up with to create something true to your business.
Now you've considered what your freelancer will be working on, and we can begin thinking about the hiring process. To get your head in the right place—let's set some expectations.
Keep in mind that while most people consider timing in terms of the final product, designers benefit from understanding when you expect to see things in terms of first, and second draft and so on, and when you plan to have all final deliverables in hand. Outlining your milestones is the best way to show your designer your expectations for the project. Using this information, they can assess and plan to be available and understand the amount of time and effort on their part- to see the project through from start to finish.
Now that you've tackled what you want from an artist, it's time to begin your search for the right candidate. Before swiping through online portfolios, you need to know the kind of person you are looking for to complete the work you need doing.
While many commercial artists are multidisciplinary, designers tend to have an area of expertise, so don't assume that a fantastic logo designer will automatically be a stellar illustrator too. Knowing which skills to look for will give you a good idea of the freelance artist you need to hire for your business.
What is the role of a:
It's now easier than ever to find capable, reliable freelance artists online, but you need to know how to select the right one. Do your research to ensure your artist is:
There are no hard-and-fast rules about artist payment. In general, payment is received when the work is completed. Specifying a due date for the job is a given. On top of negotiation, the rate of pay requires you to lay down the terms of payment. Does the designer prefer an hourly rate, or would you prefer to charge a set fee for the final completed project? Will you pay a sum upfront, and another on completion, are tools included in the fee? How will the payment be made? Digitally using a bank transfer or PayPal for example, or will you send a check in the mail. Make this clear from the onset to avoid any miscommunication when it comes to settling payment.
Here are the most common payment structures used by freelance artists.
Your chosen payment method is dependent on your expectations for your designer. The hour is fine if your project is uncomplicated and you have a strong relationship with your designer, as such, you don't need many revisions. If you anticipate an ongoing working relationship with your designer and anticipate working together on an ongoing basis, the latter two choices are the best option.
Now that you know what the right artist looks like and set an appropriate payment plan let's move on to how you go about finding one.
There are so many options out for connecting with incredible design talent. Where you find an artist will depend on what you want to be done and the relationship you plan to have with your freelance staff.
Following blogs isn't simply a nice way to pass the time, they can reflect changes in your industry, and hold the key to finding freelancers that fit your niche. If your business specializes in tourism, get onto the best travel and culture review blogs. If you're a personal trainer, familiarise yourself with fitness websites.
Check out media related to your business niche, and pay attention to the artists you like. Once you find someone who sparks your interest, look up their contact details, or social media handles, and ask whether they are available for new freelance work. You can often find the names of the artists involved under an image or a footer link. Yelp reviews and Google reviews are also great sources for potential artists in your area.
While doorstop-sized print directories aren't popular these days, there are plenty to hit up online. AIGA, the Professional Association for Design, provides a directory of AIGA members listed by name, location, and area of practice. Find every type of freelance artist here how design offers a similar list, separating listing from design firms to illustrators, and more. WorkBook connects businesses with the contacts they need, at no cost. Search for everything from photographers, illustrators, retouchers, and anything you can think of to make your project come to life.
Nowadays, most artists use social media to get exposure and clients. Using social media channels is another handy way of finding suitable freelancers. Those that are most important to artists and designers include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
Don't forget that social media works both ways. If you don't have a social media account for your business, set them up. These platforms are ideal networking grounds for personal and professional purposes. Use them to promote your business and to announce your requirements.
While Facebook has many active professional groups, it's also full of scammers and spammers. LinkedIn, on the other hand, has a much better professional matching, allowing registered members to establish networks of people they know and trust professionally. You can also build professional relationships and peruse artists' online portfolios. You'll have a complete overview of their career and works to date without asking a single question. To attract professionals through LinkedIn, post an advertisement with a link to your website so that they can apply directly. Use the chat function to talk directly with artists that show interest in your post.
When you're browsing social media for an artist, don't forget Pinterest. This site uses mainly visuals making it the perfect place for freelance designers to flock to. If you're interested in working with a designer from this platform, you have two options. Messages can only be sent to someone who is following you. The best way to attract a designer's attention is to create a Pinterest account for your business. Use your account to express interest by following a designer. They can contact you since someone can only send messages through Pinterest if you are following them. Otherwise, find a mention of their website or social media as a means of contact.
If you don't know of a group, share a "help wanted" ad on your newsfeed - chances are that someone in your network will know someone fit for the job. People on social media networks are generous in sharing content, and this can work in your favor.
Job boards are a great place to find artists. Posting an ad means you save the legwork of looking around. Artists will offer their services based on your job brief. The best places for posting freelance artist jobs ads are:
The internet is brimming with sites dedicated to talented freelancers. The best thing about these sites is that they are designed to protect both clients and the freelancers they represent. It's commonplace for these sites to charge the project fee upfront. They usually charge upfront, then hold the money and transfer the balance to the artists once the project is complete. This practice is in place to protect both parties. Designers won't have to chase down payments, and clients have some guarantees that payment is only made once they are happy with the final design.
If you're determined to hire the best of the best and there's no room to compromise on quality, hiring through an agency is the best route to go down. Indeed, costs are higher with an agency, but the quality is higher than hiring an ad hoc freelancer, and you won't need to micromanage or constantly harass someone for designs. Agencies oversee projects; a project is well communicated and delivered on time.
If you have the cash flow necessary to hire an agency, then, by all means, go for it. Indeed the price of an agency is steeper than your average designer. However, there are benefits to paying a bit more. For example, a startup or business wouldn't hire an agency for a simple logo design. Agencies are called upon to help with branding. The brand discovery process helps a business solidify its identity, values, mission, and vision, everything considered to create a complete brand.
To hire an artist through an agency, head to Google, and search for the type of artist you need + "design agency." My search for "graphic design agency" brought up over 1 billion results. Don't let this number put you off. Narrow the results by focusing on businesses in your area. Local agencies are best to work with most of the time because they'll know not just the region but also the competition.
Fortunately, Google's SERPs lists local businesses above the organic listings. Reading Google reviews is the key to finding the best design agencies in your locale. Alternatively, head to the Design Directory for a comprehensive guide to design firms and creative agencies in your region.
Sometimes, it's easier to place your trust in a personal recommendation than a killer resume/ portfolio or Linkedin profile. Begin by asking your inner circle if they can recommend anyone. Colleagues or friends might know just the right person for your business. There's also the option of seeking out local independent freelancers. See if there's a meetup group for designers in your community. Sites like meetup.com can hook you up with events in your area. Alternatively, look at what's working in your area. Perhaps you've driven past a logo that's caught your eye. Ask local businesses who did their artwork and take it from there.
Now that you're aware of the ways to go about hiring a designer, it's time to focus on choosing the right designer for your project and your business. Picking the right artist for you and your business comes down to their designs. Deciding which designer is a good fit for you comes from evaluating their work, which is often presented in a portfolio. Portfolios offer insight into their aesthetic, which aesthetics they are strong in, the areas they stand out in, be in banners, logos, or branding, and those who aren't their strong point.
How do you know what to look out for if this is your first time evaluating a portfolio? Without some guidance, it can be tricky to know what to keep an eye out for. Let's cover what you need to look for when evaluating artists portfolios:
If you've decided to use a job board to hire, you need an ad that attracts the right people. That's done with an effective job description. How do you write a compelling job ad that does just that?
Looking at other similar jobs already posted online to get an idea is a good place to start. Explain why you are interested in hiring a freelance artist, and what you need help doing.
Basic Job description template
Now you've found the ideal artist for your project, and it's time to reach out and make a proposal.
Assuming all goes well, and your chosen artist is interested in working with you, you will need to create a design brief. The design brief also allows you (the client) to focus on precisely what you want to achieve before starting the project. A good design brief will ensure that you get a high-quality design that meets your needs, providing you have chosen the right designer.
Design brief template
The brief should include the following information
What is the overall goal of the new design project?
What are you trying to communicate, and why?
Are you trying to sell more products or get the awareness of your product or service?
How do you differ from your competitors?
Do you want to reinvent yourself completely, or are you simply updating your promotional material? If it's a rebrand you're after, why have you decided it's necessary? Why now?
Where are the designs going to be used? The web, or in print, for example. On stationary or on your delivery van.
Include anything the designer should know in regards to your specifications.
Does your brand use a specific color or color scheme, font, images, or text? If so, make these details known to the designer.
If you stick to the points above, you can deliver a 'designer-friendly' brief your artist can interpret without any trouble and begin creating relevant designs for your project. Take the time to fill out each section with as much information as possible. This way, you'll reduce any snags in the process and a faster result.
Once the design brief has been communicated to your freelance artists, you need to draw up a contract. Contracts are essential because they put in writing what is required of each party before any work can begin. It also provides consensus since yourself and your new hire must agree on the contents before embarking on the project. If problems arise during the project, or once it's complete, this mutual contract can be referred to as a fallback. It clarifies the responsibilities of both parties should problems arise.
For a guide to creating a simple graphic design contract, take a look at 'Keeping a Graphic Design Contract Simple' featured in HOW magazine. While the article assumes a contract for a freelance graphic designer, it can be adapted for any freelance artist. This article includes tips for creating a contract user-friendly contract that all parties will understand. Thirteen clauses guide laying down the terms for a successful working relationship between client and designer. These include timelines and schedules, client responsibilities, including their scope of work and how edits are handled, payments, and terms of ownership that no contract should overlook.
To save time drafting a contract from scratch, adapt this template from Pandadoc. There's even an electronic signature feature that can be signed from any computer or mobile device. This way, you can email or text the document in splits of a second. It's also handy if you are employing someone overseas.
Don't forget to ask about ownership of any graphics used in the design and the final design itself. Many designers use stock photography, for example, which only allows for limited use.
If you want unlimited use of an image, communicate this with the designer, so they know to acquire exclusive rights for graphics. In addition, put it in writing that you own the rights to the final design.
To create a good working relationship with your new hire, you need to be clear from the get-go what you expect from them and set the tone for your working relationship.
The key to building a good relationship with a freelancer is communication. Decide on your preferred method of communication by email, telephone, or communications tools like Slack or Skype. For a more streamlined approach, look to collaboration software like Google docs, or set up a Trello board so all parties can clarify the work in progress.
The best way to approach feedback through the project is to find a constructive but direct means of delivery. To set the tone, make it known to the artist you've chosen, that you respect their work and value their opinion.
Feedback is an important part of the creative process, and it doesn't have to escalate into an awkward butting of heads. If this is a new territory, you might be tempted to go to extremes in providing feedback: afraid to offend and not provide the critique that's necessary to deliver the desired finished product. On the flip side, you might fall into the 'too forceful' trap that is deemed inconsiderate and risks causing friction in your working relationship. Designers are used to taking positive and negative feedback and responding constructively. When sharing feedback with your artist, just be direct, honest, and considerate of their effort.
Compile any existing assets that could assist the designer in creating the final product. Your asset pool might include a guide to your brand, a style guide including colors, fonts, and aesthetics, for example, as well as compatible versions of your logos, (if you have them). Pull together any creative executions that didn't work out in the past to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
Hiring a freelance artist is a walk in the park when you take the time to consider the scope of the project and your expectations. From here on, you can filter out the qualities needed from your would-be artists, and screen only the right candidates for the job. With this guide to hiring a freelance artist, all you have to do is get to work finding the best designer for your business.