Tips & tricks so you can find a great graphic designer for your small business.
You might be thinking well that sounds like a pretty easy task (and for the lucky ones it can be) but for others it can be super daunting. I often hear clients say to me ‘it was so hard finding you’ or ‘it’s taken me ages to finally find someone that understands me’ so I got thinking that for some businesses the task of finding a great graphic designer might actually be a real challenge.
The best places to find a graphic designer:
There are many ways to find a graphic designer online. But first you must understand the places where designers hangout. By hanging out, I really mean where do we frequently go to ourselves… and I’m not talking about hanging out chatting about design or colours or any of those designery things… ain’t non of us got time for that. I’m talking about where we post work and where we look for inspiration. Designers love looking at other fellow creatives work for inspiration, feedback and are active in many of the below places:
Another great way to find designers is to use hashtags. Perhaps it’s important for you to find a local graphic designer that you can meet up with (more on that below). If you’re a Sydney based business, you might type #graphicdesignsydney or #freelancegraphicdesignersydney
So, what to look for in a creative partnership?
Similarities in style or personality:
At a basic level, you need to work with this designer quite closely either via phone, email or face-to-face so just like a friendship or a colleague you need to get along with them. It’s important for the chosen designer to understand your business and it’s important for you to be honest about where it’s at. Your designer should want to know why you started your business, how long it’s been in operation, your revenue streams, your goals for the upcoming year and why you are seeking their help.
Portfolio / body of work:
Does the designer have work similar to your brand or project? Don’t just skim through, really dig deep into what the designer has worked on. Consider also critiquing how they have presented their work. Is it clear, neat and tidy? This will give you an indication as to the pride the designer takes in their work and how they organise projects.
Is your designer straight out of design college or have they got a bunch of industry experience? An experienced designer will have a broader portfolio and an understanding of how to bring a project to market, beyond what you visually see. Have a look at where your designer has worked as well, are they active on social media, do they have a blog or where else do they show up on the internet?
An experienced designer is likely to challenge you and evolve your thinking (never see this as a bad thing) provided they are respectful in their approach. A designer straight out of design college might not do this. Even though you might get a great deal, you might pay extras along the way for revisions. Not to mention your own time in reviewing.
Nothing has more weight than a bunch of client testimonials. Have a look on Google or on their website at the types of clients and businesses commenting on their work.
Briefing and project expectations:
A great designer will ask you to fill out a detailed brief. It’s a designers job to take your words and turn it into visual language. We need to understand the project in detail to do so. A great designer will also give you a clear timeline of the project and client expectations. It’s a two-way street between designer and client and we need to keep you in check with feedback every step of the way.
Most designers love meeting face-to-face, especially if you’re local to them. Otherwise a great designer will ask to chat to you on the phone or via Skype or Google Hangouts. Especially for that initial meeting, it’s really nice to put a face to the name.
What types of questions to ask when screening a graphic designer?
Once you have found the designer you want to reach out to ask them lots of questions. You can’t put a price on your business but everyone does have a budget so you need to consider a mix of value, rather than just sourcing the cheapest design service. Remember that the cheapest quote is not always what’s right for your business. Ask yourself how much can you risk for your brand/project to go wrong? If you’re a cafe owner, choosing a designer that hasn’t designed café menus, signage, flyers or marketing collateral might not be the best choice for you.
Remember that the cheapest quote is not always what's right for your business. Ask yourself how much can you risk for your brand/project to go wrong?
A few typical questions you can ask before signing on the dotted line:
What previous work have you done that is similar to my business or project?
What do you recommend from a design point of view for my project?
How much experience do you have?
Do you offer rounds of revisions?
What are your payment terms?
Roughly how long will this take to create / design?
When can I expect to see the first draft?
How long do I have to review and make changes?
Similarly, your chosen designer should ask you a lot of questions too! If they don't, I would proceed with caution. A designer needs to understand your business or project goals from the inside out, otherwise we can’t make the right creative decisions. Give a clear brief to your designer so they know what you envision and so you are always comfortable that they understand the objective of the task at hand. Check in with the designer along the way and above all enjoy the process. It’s a very exciting time for your business as you’re bringing your brand/project to life! When you find the right designer that supports your business magical things are about to happen!