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How to Work With Freelance Designers

How to Work With Freelance Designers

By Rieva Lesonsky, Guest Blogger
Published: April 1, 2014 Updated: April 1, 2014

Small business owners often outsource to freelance designers to create their logos, marketing materials and more. While using online services where hundreds of designers bid on your project at the lowest possible price can have its place, there are times when you need an ongoing, personal relationship with a designer—someone you can work with over and over again and count on to deliver every time.

How can you develop this kind of working relationship? Here are some tips.

Start by choosing your designer wisely. Your local chamber of commerce, personal and business connections, other small business owners and social media networks are good places to look for designers. If you see a small business with a marketing piece, ad or signage that really stands out to you, contact the business owner and ask where he or she had it done. Good designers will have professional websites where you can check out their portfolios to see whether they’ve done projects similar to yours. Ideally, you want to look for a designer who is not only familiar with current design trends, but also has some experience in your industry and working with small businesses.

Make a shortlist of several options and contact them for more information about their services. Find out:

·         How does the designer charge? Some designers charge by the hour, others on a per-project basis. If the designer uses a standard contract, ask to see it. Check out factors such as how many revisions are included in the price, whether you will own all rights to the finished product (very important if the designer is creating your logo), and whether the designer charges a percentage of the fee even if you aren’t satisfied with the work.

·         Who will be working on your projects? Is this a one-person shop or does the designer have partners or employees? You might be impressed with one designer’s skills, only to find out a much junior person will be working on your projects. Does the designer outsource to other designers? This isn’t necessarily bad, but if the designer is outsourcing to the same type of online design services you were trying to avoid, there’s not much point to hiring him or her.

·         What other companies does the designer work for? Asking about clients will give you an idea not only of whether the designers is conversant with your industry, but also where you may fall in the pecking order. If a designer has lots of big clients, the reality is you may find your projects falling to the bottom of their priority list. Be sure to address this concern honestly.

·         Where is he or she located? Today, it’s possible to work well with designers across the country or even across the globe. However, communicating about design issues can be difficult for small business owners. It’s often easier to discuss visual issues in person, and if this is the case for you, you’ll want to choose a local designer who can come by your office.

Once you’ve selected the designer, keep the relationship happy and successful by:

·         Clearly communicating what you want. Find examples of the type of design you like and explain what you like about them—is it the color? The use of type faces? The graphics or photos?

·         Being open to suggestions. You hired a designer for his or her expertise, so use it. You don't have to accept designs you hate, but do give the designer a chance to explain the reason behind the design. Perhaps he or she will change your mind.

·         Limiting your requests for revisions. There’s nothing a designer hates more than umpteen emails asking to change this, that and the other. It’s OK to have a lot of input into the design, but instead of sharing every thought as it pops into your head, take some time to review the work, think about it and discuss all the changes you’d like at one time.

·         Setting clear expectations and deadlines. As with any working relationship, be sure you are clear about your standards. Using project management and scheduling tools like Zoho, Trello or Google Drive is a great way to ensure you have the latest versions of files all in one place so everyone can look at them and share their input.

About the Author:

Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky

Guest Blogger

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and President of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports. She's been covering small business and entrepreneurial issues for more than 30 years, is the author of several books about entrepreneurship and was the editorial director of Entrepreneur magazine for over two decades