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I have been freelance designing since 2009 and I do believe that it’s time to set some ground rules for all of you thinking about before you select and then hire a designer.

I have worked with A LOT of really cool clients over that time. I’ve designed some amazing blogs, some outstanding invitations and announcements, and some superb business identities. However, there have been a few weird situations so I want to help you all understand this side of the work. I know that, unless you’re a designer or artist of some sort, it’s hard to figure it all out and know how it all works.

No. 1+ Choose A Designer Based On Style.

It’s true, as a designer/artist we’re pretty good about getting the vision and getting you what you want. I, like most designers, am happy to broaden my horizons and create the perfect design for you. However, most designers, myself included, have a certain style that we specialize in. Mine is clean, slightly retro, with a flair of artsy whimsy on occasion. Knowing this from the beginning makes the process much easier. Check out portfolios, blogs, and shops to find designs you already love.

No. 2+ What Do You Want?

This is usually the hardest part, but it’s also the most important. Do you like script or big bold text? Do you want two or three columns? Do you like scrapbooky or clean and minimal designs? It’s really tempting to send your designer 15 different sites with a 6 page document about what you like and what you don’t off each one. However, this won’t be as helpful as you think. It leaves it wide open to pick and choose any combination from those 15 sites. It’s much better to send 2-3 sites or even better, draw a little sketch of what you see in your head and then let your designer take it from there.

No. 3+ Know The Process.

What does your designer offer? Do they give you five mock-ups or just one? Do they have a set number or revisions or is it unlimited? Do they charge by the hour or by the project? Can you add and take away things from a design without charge? Do they offer free or discounted rates if you need an update later? What about if you have to break the contract, then what? Make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting and what will be included. I know pricing is hard to discuss, but it’s your money. Make sure you know what you’re doing with it.

No. 4+ Take Timing Into Account.

I know that life happens and things come up, but don’t start a design if you’re planning a big vacation, and if something does come up, let your designer know so they can schedule around you. Nothing is more frustrating than working on a design and then suddenly not getting any feedback. Most designers will block out a certain amount of time to work specifically on your design, so if you suddenly disappear, it really messes up their schedules and you don’t want your designer to be grumpy.

No. 5+ Pay Your Bill.

Sounds simple right? If you’re working with a freelancer, most of the time we have a specific number of clients that we take each month per project. We set this number so that we don’t overload and also so that we can pay our own bills. If you don’t pay, our bills suffer. That’s not cool. It is so irritating to get to the end of a design and hear, “I don’t get paid until the end of the month, can I just pay you then?” If you’re going to a designer, and asking them for work, make sure you budget it in and can pay it on time. This goes back to Number 3+ Knowing The Process.

And there you have it. I may add more to this later as the notion strikes, but for now, those 5 little things are the most important considerations when hiring a designer. So… what can I help you with?

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time to read: 3 min