How To Hire A Freelance Designer


I’m not a human resources expert, but I’ve worked with several hundred owner-operated companies in the last 18 years and learned a few things that might save you a little time.

Things will come up that require a real designer. Step away from Publisher and ClipArt and invest the money to have a professional do it faster and better.

I tell my clients: You’re welcome to work with one of our preferred designers on projects that require one, but I also appreciate wanting to work with someone local. Since we’re helping you craft the message, we will be fine working with a good, local designer who understands deadlines and directions.

If you want a local freelance designer, put the following ad on Craigslist.

Freelance graphic designer to help with ongoing projects for a local [your business category] company.

Throughout the year, we need the occasional postcard, sell sheet, newsletter and other design projects completed professionally and by deadline.

We pay on time. We’ll pay well for the right person.

We’re okay if you’re a little different. So are we. We don’t want our ads to look like anybody else’s. We don’t even like them to look like ads.

Creativity is a huge plus, but so is professionalism. We’re running a business, not an artists’ colony.

If you’re creative, professional, low-maintenance and would like to work with us, please send your rates, a link to your work and at least two references to ______.

Do not consider anyone without samples and at least two references. Call the references! Ask about responsiveness and attention to detail. Beware of theoretical work – unless you’re willing to work with a student (which can be cheap and great but is a risk and it requires a little more direction and confidence in knowing what you want).

Also – don’t be afraid to fire quickly. There will be several more where the first person came from. If it’s not a good fit for you, or they have a problem with deadlines or listening or taking direction or seem to have misrepresented themselves with their resume/portfolio/references, break up and try again.

That’s my advice. What do you think? Any other tips or suggestions for owner-operated companies who need occasional help? (You might be, but I’m not a fan of elance.)

Kids drawing


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As CEO and Head Custodian of Miles & Company, Tim Miles helps owner-operated companies do more with less. He's the author of Good Company: Making It, Keeping It & Being It.

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Good advice? Please share. Thanks!
  • Tom Cadwallader

    Ask the references if they know someone who works with the designer. This gets you past the “company line” from the references whom the designer has already talked to someone who will give you a more real opinion.