Earlier this year, I wrote about hiring a professional graphic designer and how you know you're ready to take the leap. And it really can be a leap - not just money-wise, but also trust-wise. After all, this person is responsible for translating your ideas into a beautiful, cohesive visual experience for your audience, and ultimately helping you reach your business goals.
Finding a designer to build this trust with, who you feel comfortable with, who "gets you" and makes working together fun is so important. Many designers have the creativity and technical skills to create beautiful designs, but I believe in a designer-business owner relationship based on more than that. Working together should be a collaboration with a common goal of making your vision come to life in a professional AND authentic way. Not just any designer will do!
When you're looking for a designer, the best thing you can do is set aside time to do your research. It's too important of a decision not to!
With freelance project posting sites, design contest marketplaces, and the ol' Google machine, you have endless options and many ways you can find graphic designers to work with. But not every designer will be a good fit for you. When looking for a designer who's the right fit for YOU, be more intentional and specific with your search.
Here's where I suggest you start:
Many graphic designers and design studios market their services and share behind-the-scenes info on their social media accounts. Use the search bars on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and/or Pinterest, using "graphic designer" and/or other key words (or hashtags!) describing what you're looking for:
- Visual branding / visual identity
- Web design
- Logo design
Or, if you have a very specific style in mind, hone your search by using descriptive words and follow the links to discover who the designer is. I definitely recommend this for Pinterest! For example:
- Minimalist visual identity
- Edgey web design
- Handwritten logo design
I guarantee you will find many really fabulous designers this way! Browsing their social media accounts will help you get a feel for their aesthetic and what they're all about. And they will lead you to their website, where you can learn more.
Ask fellow business owners you trust and whose marketing design you admire if they hired a graphic designer and get a referral! Asking them what it's like to work with that designer and what to expect from them could give you a better idea of whether they'll be a good fit. Be sure to get the designer's website URL from your contact too, so you can check them out for yourself.
What to look for
You're doing your research and finding some really talented designers. But how do you know if a designer is the right fit for you? If you come across somebody who interests you, spend some time on their website, check out their social media accounts, and consider the following:
Notice the designer's style and think about whether it resonates with you and your vision. Browsing their online portfolio will give you a feel for their past work. You will most likely see some consistencies and their overall aesthetic should be fairly clear! Looking at the designer's own visual branding on their website and social media accounts (especially Instagram!) will give you a taste of their aesthetic too.
Think about... is their design style classic and clean? Or is it more illustrative? Dark and rustic? Light and feminine? And - most importantly - does this aesthetic match what you have in mind for your business?
2. SERVICES & EXPERTISE
Find out what services the designer offers, to ensure they can provide you with what you need. Visual identities and branding, web design, marketing collateral... there are many different areas of design and not all designers specialize in everything.
Some designers also specialize in certain kinds of businesses or industries (i.e. creative entrepreneurs, women business owners, non-profits, weddings), while other designers' client base is more widespread. I happen to be somewhere in the middle - "Small Businesses with Big Hearts" is who I love to work with. Regardless, consider who the designer typically works with and whether you'd be a good match.
3. CREATIVE PROCESS
Many designers describe or outline their creative process on their website, a great way to get a feel for what it's like to work with them and what to expect. Take time to read through these details! If it sounds clear, organized and fun, you can expect the same for your experience with them.
As you read through a designer's website and connect with them on social media, notice their voice and the personality they convey. This includes what words and phrases they use, how they describe themselves and their values. If you find yourself thinking, "Wow, I totally connect with this!" or "I love this guy/gal!"... then you just might have found a great fit :)
Many designers have their prices listed on their site in the form of packages or perhaps starting rates with a custom quote to follow after you two get in touch. Either way, look at these numbers and compare them with what your marketing and design budget allows. If you're excited about working with a designer but you're worried about the money, I suggest still getting in touch anyway. Most designers offer a payment plan option for bigger projects OR can tell you what they can do for you while staying within your budget.
Next Step: Get in touch!
If you've found a designer that you think could be the right fit, shoot them an email to start the conversation about working together. I suggest including your business website link, some basic info about what you're looking for and your timeline.
Also consider including how you found them and perhaps why you think the two of you would collaborate well. It shows you know why you're getting in touch with them specifically and shows that you're invested in the project's success. I can tell you that this will be music to the designer's ears... remember, he or she wants to make sure you're a good fit too!
Best of luck to you in your search!
If you're in need of a new visual brand and/or marketing collateral design help, I'd love to see if we might be a good fit! Start by checking out my Portfolio and Let's Work Together, and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! I'd love to connect with you :)