Hiring a freelance graphic designer can be a great way to get high-quality design work without breaking the bank, but it can be tricky to make the arrangement work effectively. Unless you take the time to set up some ground rules and organize the process properly, you may find that you're not getting the most out of your designer - or they're not meeting your expectations.
In this article, we'll take you through seven steps to make outsourced graphic design work seamlessly for your business.
It's a great way to get creative-minded individuals off the couch (at some point in your life, you're probably going to need to find that part-time muse, no matter how annoying he can be!) and get some high-quality design out of them.
Freelance graphic designers are in a unique situation though - you know that they're independent, self-employed and may think it's a bit of a fairytale to be working for a big corporation.
You want to make sure that they're invested in the work that they're delivering - that they're getting the results that you need - and that, at the end of the day, their interests are aligned to yours.
You wouldn't put your cook in the kitchen and expect them to cook a restaurant-quality meal every day, but it would make sense to have a conversation about expectations. You want to make sure that either your expectations are matched or exceeded, otherwise there's no point in letting them work for you. All of these processes give us the foundation from which we draw out how to align communication between you and your design team.
In the next section, we'll take a look at some of the most important areas you'll need to cover in your conversations with your designer.
Ultimately, your job as a business owner is to simply guide your team so that it produces better results.
You are the ultimate PM for your remote design team. So it's important that you are able to lead and create a pleasant environment that encourages good work and excellent results.
You can build relationships within the team and everybody will adjust to your vision, but make sure you explain clearly and understand your goal of organizing the project and give them ideas for how to improve the design.
Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed when you ask for something, especially your designer. In order to get the best result from your designer, avoid asking for the bare minimum.
Set your standards high, but work with them collaboratively to reach that same goal. When you're uncertain, raise your concerns with them and prioritize. Work as a team and you'll get the results you love. It comes down to project planning and being able to set the right expectations from the start.
Understanding and defining the scope of your project before you get involved can be tricky.
It's wise to know exactly what you want and why before you discuss the design work with the potential designer - this will hopefully help you negotiate and find a good fit.
Your most powerful tool is probably a whiteboard (or a one-pager in a notebook), where you write down what the challenges are. Ask lots of questions, and always make sure the scope of the appointment is clear. Once you have a sense of what you're going to ask for, you and your designer can discuss your expectations.
They can just show you design examples that are most appropriate for your business or application, or you can have specific requirements written on paper or even drawn on your whiteboard.
The main thing is that it helps the design process move along, and you can define the review period. Know what you're asking for and have everything ready to be passed on to your designer or design team.
Prepare a set of branding assets. Doing so means you forward the brand assets to your designer when they need them. These assets can provide you with a consistent look and feel across a variety of projects, and you’re limiting the amount of resources you need to keep up-to-date.
One of the biggest issues I run into with my clients is that they buy brand banners, kits, logos, etc. from freelancers, but they don’t realize that each of those freelancers has their own formatting policies, logos, fonts, color palettes, visual identities, logos, etc., and the projects are nothing like each other. Great brand kits are rarely generic. They come with a specific style guide. Consistency is key here and it helps your graphic designer work better when everything is aligned.
Your designer is going to come in and give you their take on the design brief for your project, which, ideally, you got when you hired them.
This is a very important first step and could make all the difference to how well your finished project turns out.
Tell them clearly what sort of look you're after. For example: a corporate brand, a beginner’s guide, an illustration album etc. Whatever it is you need to get done. Set out the brief clearly so that it can be easily understood.
They want to know which ideas underpin the project, what parts of the project they will focus on (to reinforce your branding, perhaps?), and what challenges they will have to overcome.
Other info you can discuss might be the size of the piece, purpose of the project(e.g.: layout, branding, prose, etc.), flow of the piece, and deadline.
Make sure you get back to the designer at this stage so they know what to focus on and when to finish.
Unanswered emails, missed follow-ups or poor deliverable sent outside of the agreed timelines or goals will significantly reduce your productivity. Structure as solid review framework of getting the right feedback on your draft early on in the design process will help in managing the creation of a design you love. Knowing upfront where the hiccups are and how to solve them will save you countless hours and become more efficient.
To ensure a smooth process, set clear expectations at the start, create milestones for consistent check-ins and ensure there's a clear channel for communication. As the brand owner, you should know best what works for your customers and your business. That responsibility lies with you. But it's your designer's jobto make your brand shine.
Align your expectations with the designer. If you're not sure what those expectations are, ask them. If you have an idea already, ask them, too.
Get them to describe what they're doing, what they're looking for, and whether or not your expectations are being met. If they're not, talk about ways to meet your expectations and improve the design together.
Find out your expectations and what they want in the end. They key here is to have full transparency and understanding on the task at hand. Nothing should be left for interpretation. Everything should be crystal clear.
Graphic design is one of the most important aspects of any marketing or branding campaign. Unfortunately, graphic design can be expensive and time-consuming, especially if you don’t have the necessary skills yourself.
That’s where outsourced graphic design comes in. By outsourcing your graphic design work to a professional design firm, you can get high-quality, professionally designed graphics at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time designer.
However, not all outsourced graphic design firms are created equal. If you want to make sure that you get the most out of your outsourced design work, hire the business that aligns with yours. If you're thinking about slaying giants and winning the market, you're in luck because that's exactly what Mad Creative Beanstalk is after. Let's work on this long-term relationship together to give you designs you love.