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Secrets to Working with a Freelance Designer

Are you thinking about hiring your first freelance designer?

Worried you might spend money on a poor design?

Here are a few things you can do to make working with a freelance designer run smoother, result in a better deliverable, and possibly save you money in the process.

For most small businesses—with equally small marketing budgets—choosing to work with a freelance designer instead of a boutique design shop or even a full-blown agency can make a lot of sense. But for some business owners, the perceived risks of working with a solo service provider is too much for them to handle.

As an independent designer myself, I have a good understanding of the concerns many of my clients have and I try my best to alleviate their worries by explaining my background, my process, my expectations, and my promise to take care of their projects to the best of my abilities.

When you distil it all down, I follow the golden rule and I expect my clients to do the same.

Be organized.

Before you even begin looking for a freelance designer make sure you have as much information as possible about the project or the task.

If you’re looking to have a logo designed, then create a list of how you plan on using it. Create a list of logos that you like and dislike and explain why.

If you need a website designed, create a list of pages you think you might need. You could even begin to write content for these pages which will lead to a better understanding of what needs to be designed for those pages. And if you need micro-content for your social media marketing, think about your posting process, schedule and determine which social networks you’d like the content created for.

You don’t have to write paragraphs of information either. Ideally, your thoughts would just be short bullet points that are quick for any potential freelance designer to reference.

Being organized is a sure-fire way of showing a freelance designer that you’re serious about the project and that some of the unknown project variables have been ironed out which could reduce the freelancer’s estimate.

Be smart.

Once you know what you need you’ll need to figure out “who” you need.

Every freelance designer is different and some have very specific skill-sets and designs styles. Their project or hourly rates can vary dramatically based on where they live, how much experience they have, their workload at that time, and their specialty. For example, designers in developing countries are quite a bit cheaper than designers here in the U.S simply because of cost of living differences. However, communication can be a challenge when working with anyone where your primary language isn’t theirs, and there could be some cultural nuances that don’t translate the same from one place to another.

Be honest.

When you share your project details with a freelance designer, make sure you’re being honest. There’s nothing that ruins any type of relationship faster than dishonesty and this applies to client/freelancer relationships as well.

  • Don’t try to under scope the project to get the freelancer to submit a lower estimate with intentions of increasing the scope of the project once it gets underway.
  • Don’t say there is no specific deadline and then try to rush the freelancer after a couple of days.
  • Don’t give a budget that is out of your range.
  • Don’t tell the designer you’re happy with what they’ve delivered if you truly are not.

And lastly.

If you’ve organized all your project details. And if you’ve done your research to find an ideal freelance designer. And if you’re being completely honest with yourself and your designer. The final thing you need to do is let go. Trust that the designer has your best interests at heart. Every designer I’ve met, including myself, only wants to do great work and make their clients happy.

Let’s Discuss!

What’s your best advice for working with a freelance designer?

Thanks so much for reading.

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  • As a solopreneur and freelancer myself, I loved this post. I work with a lot of freelance graphic designers and thankfully I haven’t had a bad experience yet. When picking the designer I would also add to not be afraid to ask for references, Google them, and look deeply into their portfolio. It takes a little extra time but it’s worth it to find someone you can work with for a long time!

    • Excellent point about checking references! Thanks for the comment Steph.

  • Carol

    Hi! Your article will definitely be helpful for anyone who has to work with a freelancer. But I’ve noticed you didn’t mention XPlace among the job boards you can find a good web designer on. Consider the idea, this marketplace is nice: it has quite a number of talents to choose from and doesn’t require a commission!