You have a vision for your company. You just don’t have the ability or training to bring it to life on your own. That’s okay because there is a whole world out there, and there are many talented graphic and web designers out there who are willing and able to help. But keep in mind that there are is some danger lurking for those who outsource web design or freelance graphic design without a good plan. Here are 10 tips to find successful outsourcing solutions for your graphic design needs.
1. Define Your Vision with Swipes
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you have a clear vision in your head. Unfortunately, even the best designers aren’t mind readers, so you’ve got to figure out a way to communicate your thoughts. This step is more important than most people realize. If you get it wrong here, you could end up spending a great deal of time and money on revisions that could have been avoided. Find examples of websites and designs that you like, and make a list of the things you like and dislike about them. This will give your designer a feel for your style direction.
2. Draft Creative Guidelines
If you’re in the very early stages of starting your business, you may not have much to go on yet. This is fine. Just be as specific as you can about how you would like to see your logo and all creative elements. Do you want to avoid anything that is too “cartoony?” Should everything be tied together with the same retro vibe as one of your swipes? You can talk some of this through, but it’s best to get as much as you can in writing.
3. Consider Crowdsourcing vs. Hiring a Freelancer
Crowdsourcing has been an amazing source for small businesses to find great talent on a budget, but it’s not for everyone. Crowdsourcing sites like 99designs have pioneered the way people outsource logo design. But some people like to retain control and work with one person until they get it right. For those of you in this camp, consider finding an individual freelancer on a site like Elance.
4. Create a Detailed Job Description
Whether you’re getting ready to post on 99designs, Elance, Design Crowd or Logo Garden, you’ll need to give designers some direction. And again, it’s best to be as specific as possible. This is where tips one and two come in handy.
5. Post Your Job on One or Multiple Sites
There’s nothing to stop you from posting on 99designs –and– Design Crowd –and– Logo garden. Just keep in mind that there are terms and conditions on each site. You may have to award the job to one person on each site. As long as you’re okay with rewarding the best of the best, it’ll work just fine. But most people do choose just one crowdsourcing or outsourcing site for their job posting. It can cut down on costs and time. Remember, you have to manage all of these job postings.
6. Interview Candidates and Review Samples
If you’ve chosen an outsourcing site, such as Elance and other successful outsourcing companies, you’ll be reviewing applications at this point. If you’ve chosen a crowdsourcing site, you may be reviewing submissions. One route isn’t necessarily better than another. It just depends on what works best for you. If you can find the right freelancer and keep revisions to a minimum, you may end up spending less on a site like Elance, but there are no guarantees. It all depends on your choices.
7. Ask for References
References are important when hiring a freelancer. They aren’t so important with crowdsourcing unless you choose a contractor and give him or her more work. Either way, if you’re going to be trusting someone with your business, you’ll want to know that they’re trustworthy.
8. Draft a Simple Contract
Before you move forward with any one freelancer, draft a simple contract that outlines your expectations. A successful outsourcing agreement should include all deadlines and deliverables. Do be sure to keep it simple, though, or you may scare off some potential freelancers. Some of the boilerplate contracts you’ll find out there are written for long-term relationships. If this is meant to be a one-off job, you may not need such strong language binding them to your company.
9. Step Back and Let Your Designer Get to Work
This tip is so simple yet so difficult for many entrepreneurs. It’s a good idea to designate “check points” on larger jobs. That is, pre-defined points when you will check the designers work and give feedback. But you shouldn’t be bothering your contractor daily. If you’ve hired him or her for the job, you should be able to trust that it will be done well. Your interference will only set the job back and irritate the freelancer.
10. Be Specific About Revisions
Once you have your final project (yay!), there’s a good chance it won’t be 100% perfect. That’s completely normal, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the contractor’s skill level. It’s simply part of the process. Talk through the changes you’d like to see, and then let the designer make them. Remember that outsourcing graphic design services is a process, but it is usually well worthwhile. Ask any entrepreneur. Most have successful outsourcing examples to share. Those who don’t have successful outsourcing stories probably could have been more specific about their needs.