Most small business owners that cross my path have tried the DIY route for awhile, and some have had someone close to them try their hand at helping with their branding. When you’ve reached the point of frustration with DIY programs, and want someone else to polish and spruce up your business visuals you may get offers from all over and need to narrow down your options. Here are recommendations I make for friends, family and potential clients – anyone who is thinking of hiring a designer for their business or personal needs!
1. ) Your own ability to communicate your long-term goals and personal values.
So often, I have seen people hop-skip-jump right over the business basics before they are out in the world looking to find a designer to quickly make a logo for an idea they came up with in the past 7 days. It’s admirable, but not realistic. A lot of footwork goes into starting a business that will survive, and there are business plan templates you can find via google and some branding strategists, (hi!) will provide you with a questionnaire so they can put the answers to all of their questions in one place. When I chat with a new potential client I want to hear their story, where they envision themselves and their “Why?” I would proceed very cautiously if this isn’t part of the process with a designer you’re interested in working with.
2. ) Your ideal client
You know what you want to make, but do you know who would buy it and why they would want to? This is important to consider because you are not always your ideal client, so you need to design for THEM and not just for yourself and use color theory to attract their attention to your business.
3. ) Communication
My most often heard complaint when hearing about someone’s experience with a previous designer is, “The communication was just not there. It’s like we were speaking different languages and they weren’t understanding my basic requests for revisions.” There are a few ways you can avoid this situation going forward with any online service provider. First, I would ask if you will be communicating 1:1 with the designer. I’m a designer who leans heavily in marketing know-how, and not all graphic designers have that knowledge so there are a lot of agencies who have hired designers to work under them and do the communication for them. I’ve had more communication issues when I had to play telephone with a middle person contributing their own opinions, than I have working alone so I’m very upfront about being a one-woman team and refer clients to other trusted resources if it’s not something I personally do myself. My second recommendation for making sure that communication will be clear is to be thoughtful about your purchasing decision and where you found the designer. Finding someone who is local-ish to you might not be the most affordable option, but you’ll have a more fulfilling experience than hiring the cheapest person on a message board abroad who may not even be who they portray themselves to be. College design courses also often have real life project opportunities for prize money or class credit, reach out to your nearest school and inquire!
4. ) Will this designer be able to help me long-term?
Nobody likes to be ghosted, and when you have an issue or question that you think someone might be able to help you out with – you’d love a reply! Same goes for when you have a design made for you – you should be able to confidently use it, edit it, share it, etc. A good designer will educate their clients and at least offer guidance on how to figure your situation out. I see this the most often in the website design world – clients who don’t know how to log-in to their sites and update a photo and instead are trapped in a big bill each month with little to no work actually being done for them. Ask questions of your potential designer, like if they are available for tech support questions! I love filming quick how-to videos and empowering people to do some things themselves! Having a long-term relationship with a designer will benefit your business and keep all of your design collateral organized and looking consistent!
5. ) Am I being realistic and keeping an open mind?
If you’re working with a trained graphic designer, they’ve spent considerable time learning design basics and are an expert in their craft. If a designer pushes back on an idea that you want to see made, there may be a solid design industry reason! Ask questions and remember that you are hopefully hiring someone who knows more about design than you. Keep an open mind when viewing their presented ideas if they’re for your ideal clients and not yourself. Be realistic with the amount of work that you are looking to hire for and your timelines and budget.
These points are from a graphic designer on what to consider when you’re looking to hire a graphic designer, but may be useful when looking to hire for any service in-person or online. If you’d like to chat with me about your own experiences hiring a designer, feel free to reach out any time! I love educating and try to be a resource for designers and small businesses alike.