You have a new project that needs some artistic assistance. Unfortunately, you find yourself a little out of your depth after realising that design isn’t as easy as it seems. You could learn to do it all yourself but this takes time, lots and lots of time, which you don’t have. So what do you do?
Hire a freelancer! With thousands of people going freelance in Australia and around the world, you have a vast pool of choices. And thanks to the internet, you can get in contact with any of them. Before you do, there are several things you should be aware of that will make the process as smooth as possible.
Working with a freelancer is essentially creating a working relationship with a complete stranger, and both parties will come out smiling if they can understand each other and work effectively together. Try not to go into such a relationship thinking of yourself as a customer, but more so as a partner.
Before you even begin your search for a freelancer, it really helps if you know what information you will need to provide to get an accurate quote. Need an information booklet? Will it be just for print, or do you need a web-friendly version as well? Need a website design? Can one person take care of the creative and technical side? Or will you need to go elsewhere? All of this sort of information really helps your freelancer give you a precise quote, and you can avoid surprises down the road.
Establish a budget, and know what you can afford to spend. Unless you have figurative holes in your pockets, don’t automatically go for the cheapest option. Remember you always get what you pay for. It will cost more to fix an amateur’s mistakes than to hire a professional.
Specialists are the most expensive, and they are for a good reason – they’re great at what they do because of their years of practice. If you’re willing to spend a bit extra, invest in someone who’s got more experience under their belt to get the best possible outcome. It won’t just be skill level and experience that will affect budget. A quick turn-around will result in a higher cost, because the freelancer will need to prioritise your project over others. Change in number of revisions and project scope are also factors.
If your budget doesn’t permit you to hire someone to work on one large project, split it up into several smaller parts that can be spread out over time. And if you really don’t have a lot to spare, but still want someone who’s going to do a good job, it’s okay to negotiate a little – but have a legitimate reason. Saying something like, “I know I’m not paying you much for this, but think of the exposure!” is the fastest way to lose a freelancer’s attention. So is asking for spec work. That is, asking someone for examples of a finished piece before deciding whether or not to use the work and pay them. Because a lot of freelancers work for themselves, they’re relying on the income from their clients.
You want to make sure you have the best person for the job, and that they know what they’re doing. But who to pick? If you need a brochure, look for freelancers who have layout pieces in their portfolio. If you need a logo, look for branding examples. Look at several portfolios before deciding. Bonus points if they have client testimonials.
Most people will work within their own time zones, so being clear about working hours is important if you’re outsourcing work remotely. A crucial project is best saved for someone within the same area, or close to. The last thing you want is needing to urgently get in contact with someone who’s sleeping on the other side of the world… and you’re tearing your hair out.
Congratulations, you’ve found a freelancer whose work you like and that you get along with. But before they start on your project, they want you to sign an agreement. This isn’t something to be afraid of; an agreement is there to outline the project parameters as well as protecting you and the freelancer. Read through it carefully, and make sure you understand what you’re agreeing to, and ask if anything is unclear. They may also ask for a deposit before commencing work. This isn’t a cause for alarm bells, and is a common practice among freelancers.
Now is it finally time to hand the work over to a professional while you relax and wait for the finished product? Yes, but this is just the beginning! Once your chosen freelancer has started work, there are a few simple things you can do to make their life a bit easier, and in return, get your work done on time and within budget.
The best thing a client can do is to be able to communicate effectively. Being clear about goals means both parties clearly understand where the project is going, what is expected, and when the deliverables are due. Giving constructive feedback and being direct about what you like and don’t like about it will ensure that your project will turn out the way you envisioned. Try to give reasons as to why you like the choice of colours or why you think the typeface should be different.
Freelancers will appreciate realistic timeframes. A logo could potentially be created in a few days, but you’ll get better results if they have a week or two to spend on it. As I mentioned before, the sooner you need something, the more it’s likely to cost.
There are several points I’ve mentioned here that will help you not only to find the right freelancer for your projects, but also make working with each other very easy. Now that you know what to expect, you can go into your next working relationship with peace of mind.
© Lisa Bradbury