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If you're starting a business or redesigning one, sooner or later you will say something like:
Hey, I need a graphic designer for my logo, website, branding, etc.
The major issue is that we may not always have enough work for an in-house graphic designer.
We all know that hiring and releasing a full-time staff can be expensive.
This is where hiring a freelancer can be very useful.
My goals is to guide you through the process of finding and hiring a designer online.
So in this article I will guide you through finding designers on some of the most popular websites for freelancers.
Freelancers save time on commute and work from home, and you - entrepreneur save a lot of hassle too, of course if you do it correctly.
There are some understandable concerns about finding and hiring a freelancer.
Similarly as with finding writers or other creatives.
You just need to know where to look for the ones that meet your criteria.
We have no way of knowing how dedicated your freelancer will be.
Nor can we guarantee that their work will be better than others.
Many are turning to portfolio, and therefore it can take time to find true talent amongst, frankly, a lot of weaker-skilled freelancers.
But used correctly, freelancing services can be an easy and rewarding way of completing project and creating dynamic design content.
Those criteria will be different for a starting entrepreneur with limited budget vs an established company.
An establish business doesn't mind paying for the least risky but often more costly option.
Before you dive into the maze of websites that offer freelancing services, it’s a good idea to understand what it is exactly that you want your freelancer to achieve.
The more you leave to the designer, the larger the costs are going to be.
Most freelancer will specialize in one aspect only and will work better to a thorough and accurate brief.
Worse than that, if you end up asking too much for too little, you may end up missing deadlines.
If you limit your budget, you will end up searching for someone to be desperate enough to take the work for less.
To avoid this, set your expectations early on so that you and the designer you're looking for will know exactly what the project should be.
Curtis Larson, author at Researchpapersuk and Last Minute Writing writes:
“One of the issues facing clients of freelancing is proof of knowledge. Sadly, many freelancers are willing to claim skills that they don’t necessarily have”
You can end up wasting an awful amount of time and money.
Finding the right freelancer is one thing, but then testing is another problem.
If you’re really unlucky you may have hired a charlatan who will ask for money up front and disappear before the project has been completed.
Happily, many freelancing websites can combat this by setting relevant skill tests.
Some sites ensure that those who have completed these tests rise the rankings.
What it means is that those who turn up in your search soonest will likely have the most relevant skills.
This is one of the great benefits that freelancing websites offer that regular recruitment do not.
Skills tests are a good way of gaging competency.
They help us to understand a freelancers knowledge of their subject and their ability to think creatively.
Reviewing a freelancer’s portfolio can be very informative in assessing whether they will grasp the requirements of your project.
Skills are an asset, but provable experience shows a dedication to the trade.
A decent portfolio shows method.
But even these tests don’t always tell the whole picture, because designer can easily steal images form their peers and claim as their own.
You may even find inspiration in some of their work and asking them to emulate a similar project to one they may have done before.
The idea of negotiating fees for a project might quite daunting if you are used to recruiting for in house employees.
It’s important to take some time researching an average wage for the kind of work you require.
Indeed, for freelancers themselves, it can be a minefield trying to gauge what the market will consider a ‘sensible’ fee.
Part of the benefit of hiring freelancers is that you can hire from any part of the world.
It’s tempting, in this respect, to pay for cheaper labor from less economically successful countries, remember that it works both ways.
Many freelancers look specifically to get work from countries with higher economies.
Therefore offering a low wage based on geography can be taken as something of an insult.
However, offering a fair wage for good work means you’ll attract only the best freelancers.
When it comes to creative work it’s best to go in with your best offer and reap the rewards.
Once you’ve decided on a fee with your freelancer, you should ensure that you are on the same page.
This is where the clear expectations you set will come into play.
You cannot expect your designer to come up with the perfect design without having given them your parameters first.
Likewise, your designer will want clear direction.
It can make any freelancer nervous if there isn’t a clear agreement on how the work is to be carried out.
Especially when it comes to the process, milestones, deliverables, revisions etc.
Janet Kessler, a regular contributor at Draftbeyond and Writinity say:
Agree early on what milestones you’d like to put in place, how you would like to communicate and what payment plan you would like in place.
Remember to never offer full payment beforehand.
A serious freelancer will always want a deposit payment as assurance that you are a trustworthy client.
50% of the total amount is a common business practice and the remaining 50% you pay upon delivery.
There are a growing number of freelancing websites to choose from, each with their own benefits and specialisms.
Along with the previous comments, ensure that you take account of your budgetary requirements and the skills required by the job.
Below, you’ll find a short guide to each website.
Curated by Adobe, Behance celebrates their highly skilled freelancers through the home page of their website.
You can search for designers based on skill and locations and filter by "featured" to find top talents.
The home page is a showcase of the best work from their freelancers.
You’ll soon find award-winning freelancers among the 12 million creatives currently displaying their work there.
The interface is very easy to use, and you can share access to your account through integrated apps with other team members.
Dribbble is the most popular site for discovering and showcasing creative work.
It is one of the largest venues for designers to publish their work online and functions as a design portfolio platform.
The first posted "Shot" was a short screenshot of a designer's work in progress on July 9, 2009.
It was founded by Dan Cederholm and Rich Thornett in 2009 as an invite-only site where designers could share their work.
The term Dribbble came about from the dual metaphors of bouncing ideas and leaking your work.
This website is best for freelancers who want to showcase their logo design creations.
Upwork, previously known as oDesk and Elance, is one of the biggest marketplaces for freelancing on the internet.
One of it’s greatest features is the milestone payment automation.
It boasts a huge amount of different skill sets and experience.
It is tailored to allow both freelancers and clients start off on the same page.
This enables you to create markers throughout your project, ensuring that your freelance sticks to schedule as the project continues.
There are a fantastic amount of well-crafted tests which will help to ensure that you pick the right designer.
US-Based Toptal is a job-posting forum which utilizes a rigorous screening process to admit only the most talented of freelancers.
There’s an emphasis on recruiting for long term work.
It focuses on recruiting freelancers who see their work as a livelihood rather than a side gig.
With that in mind, a lot of their marketing focuses on their ability to attract the ‘Top 3%’ of talent in the freelancing marketplace.
They offer a speedy recruitment process, boasting that your job can be filled within 0 to 3 weeks as opposed to the average 1-3 months.
Fiverr has become a well-used internet resource in recent years.
It allows both Freelancers to advertise their services and clients to put up jobs.
Understanding the growing ‘gig’ economy, it revolves around categories of service, effectively creating a cross-selling advertising board.
Skills and services are very much viewed as orders which can be placed.
There’s a simple process for businesses to add team members to their account, so ordering these services is transparent within each company.
PeoplePerHour is a UK based freelancing website which, as the name suggests, offers a clear, streamlined cost to hiring for your project.
The beauty of paying by the hour is that you can anticipate costs, early on.
Freelancers offer completive quotes once they have been matched through an integrated AI system.
Each project is started with a deposit, reassuring the freelancer of your legitimacy as a client.
Any further funds will be held in escrow until you are satisfied with the project.
Geared solely towards graphic design, 99Designs places control firmly in the client’s court.
All you have to do is post a design contest and then is pick a winner.
Once you post a design contest, then you're approached by designers from across the site with their proposals.
In fact, it is a low cost, low-risk service, which in effect has many freelancers working for you at once.
There are dedicated professionals who can guide through longer processes if you are overhauling or launching a site for instance.
Freelancer.co.uk has an ever-increasing roster of employers and freelancers from across the globe.
You have the freedom to offer fixed prices or hourly terms, depending on your budget.
It’s free to post a project any time you use it and offers you the chance to post small or large jobs.
There is the opportunity to browse the freelancing roster of personnel, and a chat system which means you can interview potential workers in real time.
Freelancers each offer a proposal and you can compare and choose from those proposals, dependent on what fits your brand the best.
There is both a desktop and mobile app for whenever you need to get in contact with your workers.
You can hold your payments in escrow, so that you release payment only when your benchmarks or project requirements have been met, keeping you in control of how the project progresses.
The Working Not Working website offers a community of freelancers all geared towards creative industry.
The freelancers are carefully vetted by a membership board of top quality designers.
They don’t charge commission, but you do pay a monthly charge, so it’s especially useful for those who have regular work they need to post.
Each worker is charged a subscription fee, so there is an incentive for them to offer only the finest work when taking a job.
The service geared very much towards the highest professional standards and in recent years has extended its reach across the US and Europe.
You now have a better idea of how to size up your project.
It all boils down to what you're looking for.
Assess the talents you'll need for your profession and work hard.
Note the differences between the freelance websites.
Decide if you need the standard system of a flat rate, W2 forms, and tracking that Upwork offers.
The way to find quality freelance designers is Behance, but it's probably also the most expensive one.
Fiverr is famous for gigs, so you can find a designer fast, based on common graphic design tasks.
99designs is famous for running contests that will give you many options, but you will sacrifice the quality, since those are not getting paid.
So the decision is yours, but if you're looking to get something on international standards for very affordable price - check my work.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.—Do you know any other reliable ways to finding freelance designers?
I'm a branding expert and graphic designer based in NY. I specialize in the development of brands: brand strategy, identity & web design. Need help with your project?—Get in touch