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Working with graphic designers can be one of the most rewarding and/or disappointing challenges in the marketing world. If your company is small and you don’t have enough work to hire someone full-time—what do you do? Most companies will hire a freelance designer who is basically “on call” for any type of project they need.

When hiring a graphic designer, there are specific things that you need to take into account, such as what type of designer do you need, where can you find a graphic designer, and what will the relationship look like. We’ve been down this road, so we’ll show you what has worked for us.

Identifying the need behind a graphic designer

This is usually the first step: deciding whether you really need to hire a graphic designer full-time or even part-time, or if you can just use a freelance designer occasionally. If you’ve written a marketing plan and have a clear vision for your company but lack branding, you might want to start by talking to a smaller freelancer, because the cost should be lower and the attention you’ll get will be superior to that of a bigger organization. Also, determine the amount of work involved: do you want to launch multiple campaigns that require a high-level of marketing materials, or are you just starting out and simply need to brand your company?

Hourly vs. project-based hiring

If you have an ongoing marketing campaign and will need someone to work on it, you may want to hire a designer for a certain number of months on a contractual basis, so you don’t have to pay benefits, etc. Full-time graphic designers are perfect when you have several projects going on at one time, but if you only have one project at a time, it might be more cost-effective to hire someone who is project-based.

How do you find someone that fits?

Network, network, network: Tap into your online network to ask for recommendations of good designers from friends and colleagues.  Also, look around at your competitors’ websites to see if you like their style.  Often, you will find credits to specific agencies you can contact yourself.  In any case, finding good examples of the kind of style you like will be invaluable when you sit down to work with the designer you eventually hire.

Style and experience: Once you’ve identified some potential candidates, you’ll want to see what kind of experience they have in working freelance, and the types of companies they’ve worked with. Check our their website and look carefully at the portfolio to see whether they have already done something similar to what you are looking for. This is important because you want to see if their abilities align with the direction you want your company to go. Some designers have very specific niches that might not work out for your company.  

Make sure they have affordable rates: There are so many designers out there, and they may charge anywhere from $25 an hour to $250 an hour. You want to make sure that you are aware of what the actual cost will be and that you have enough money in your budget to afford a specific designer. Hiring someone at an hourly rate may end up being a lot more expensive then if the payment is project-based. Make sure that you make clear what your expectations are so that you know what’s included in the project prices. You don’t want to get stuck being charged an arm and a leg because you want to make changes along the way.

Time: Another important quality when to look for in a graphic designer is their availability.  You want to make sure they have the time to make you a priority in their work schedule. A lot of freelance designers work on multiple projects at once, but you still want to feel like you’re the most important client. If they don’t have the time to make you feel important, you’re not going to be happy with the outcome.


  • Diana says:

    I can’t tell you how to hire the best graphic designer, but I can share some tips on how not to get the worst. First of all, don’t hire relatives or accountancies only because there’s a legend their major was in arts and they’ll charge you less. It’s a huge mistake which will transform into upset relations.

  • Paul says:

    I think the best way to hire anyone is by word-of-mouth. Check out the businesses whose designs you like and find out who was the author of the masterpiece, or get recommendations from someone you trust and respect. But in the end, make decisions based on your own opinion and not on someone else’s, because the design falls in the category where there’s no accounting for tastes.

  • Laura Cobbles says:

    Even if you do have to cut the expenditures on design, don’t hire the designer who charges the least, because those designers who know the trends and have relevant experience don’t work for peanuts.

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