When you set out on a journey to find an ideal designer, who do you picture? Someone who delivers expert quality designs, quickly overcomes challenges, and doesn’t charge you a fortune. A freelance designer easily combines those things.
Moreover, if you’re currently looking for a designer, you are three times more likely to stumble upon a freelancer than those who prefer a full-time job. According to the Upwork’s 2021 Freelance Forward, of all freelance workforce, 77% are in the art & design industry.
Why is the freelance designer lifestyle so appealing that more and more creators choose it instead of a full-time job? And how will you benefit if you hire a freelance designer?
Stay with us, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about freelancers. We will guide you through the screening process and give some tips on making your collaboration even more exciting.
Let’s be honest: businesses start to work with freelance designers because they’re cost-efficient and adaptable. A freelancer can deliver their services on the spot and quickly switch between different projects. But aside from that, they have a few advantages over regular employees.
Working a freelance designer allows you to track time and costs on a project more precisely. To achieve it, you have two ways. One is the hourly rate system, where a freelancer tracks the overall time spent on a project and calculates costs.
Another one is a fixed fee system, where a freelancer presents you the average cost of each service, so you can pick what you need and pay for it. 48% of freelancers in the US use a fixed-fee payment system, and some freelance marketplaces, like Fiverr, also allow freelancers to set their prices.
When you hire a freelance designer, you get a universal soldier, in most cases. 95% of freelancers build their work around 2-3 favorite skills or more. They can cover most of your needs in graphic, product, or web design services.
Plus, many freelance designers are self-taught and continue to expand and develop new skills as they gain experience. This allows them to deliver consistent design quality and quickly switch between your projects when needed.
Another great thing about freelance designers is their great time management and communication skills. They can organize and maintain clear communication that minimizes misunderstandings.
However, a freelance designer still requires your presence and feedback on each project stage. You need to ensure that they don’t miss important milestones and deadlines and warn them of any changes in the project to minimize revision cycles.
Awesomic creates a convenient space to supervise your designer and track the progress. You can connect with a designer via chat or a 30-minute call session to give feedback or just clear things up.
Also, Awesomic allows you to add unlimited team members to your project. Or, you might even integrate it into your Slack room if you choose the Ultimate subscription. Start exploring all the Awesomic functions today.
Freelance designers manage their time more easily and distribute it to allow them to finish projects on time. On average, they work around 47 hours per week and focus on work most of this time. This makes freelancers way more efficient, which is a primary factor of choice for businesses.
Plus, freelancers can shift their schedule more easily, for instance, when you need to speed up before the major deadline. Note, though, that urgent revisions will cost you more than the average hourly rate. So make sure to minimize these situations with timely feedback and clear communication.
Today, you can easily hire a freelance designer across the ocean if you like their style. Some companies also hunt designers at cheaper rates from other countries. However, you need to consider things like language level, time differences, and cultural aspects. All of these add more time to your research.
Note that you might need some specific paperwork if you want to hire a freelance designer from another country. We’ll discuss this aspect later, so stay with us.
Tech startups actively search for web, graphic, app, and other freelance designers. Two main reasons for that are the flexibility of the freelancer’s schedule and their cost-effectiveness.
Plus, some startups might not have enough workload or resources to get a full-time specialist in their team. Since freelance designers are only paid for their time and work mainly on short-term projects, they fit more smoothly into the startup team.
Small companies rely heavily on freelance designer work because they need to build a positive first impression to make their company memorable. Plus, freelancers have cheaper budgets and are paid only for their time, which makes tracking costs easier.
The main services that a small business might include website design, packaging design, and merch. Plus, they hire freelancers to create promotional materials for holidays or sales.
Mid-size companies typically request freelance designer work when they need to complete tasks that aren’t in the company’s primary focus. For example, a publishing agency might need designer freelance services to create book covers for a series in a similar style.
Or, they might seek a freelance designer to expand their internal design department as their business grows. In this case, a company might work with a freelancer on a contractual basis for several years.
Companies with 500 employees or more also don’t hesitate to work with freelance designers and other creators. First, getting another expert aboard helps them with time-dependent projects. Second, large businesses often try to get a more narrow specialist on their hands to expand the number of services they offer.
Companies with 1000 employees or more often outsource entire teams to complete their tasks. And their collaboration with freelancers often brings back fruitful results.
The best example here would be Slack. Today, Slack has more than 200,000 paying users and a net value of 2.8 billion dollars. You’d never know that a team of freelance designers developed their interface in just 6 weeks, right?
Most business owners who work with freelancers name their cost-efficiency as one of the decisive factors. Even if you pick a freelance designer with a higher hourly rate, you will still be able to save 20-30% of costs annually compared with a full-time in-house designer.
That’s because the hiring process for a full-time employee includes other things, aside from paying salary:
Freelancers don’t need to know about your corporate culture and when it’s Asian cuisine day in your office. They only need to know project requirements. Also, they work from home and manage their free time, insurance, and taxes by themselves.
So, how much can you really save? Michael S. Solomon, the 10x Management co-founder, calculated the real costs of hiring a senior freelancer with a $150 hourly rate and a full-time employee. The results were pretty impressive:
People often use the terms “freelancer” and “independent contractor” interchangeably, but this isn’t entirely true. While both freelancers and contractors are self-employed and work with clients on temporary projects, they have a few differences.
Got a specific design request and aren’t sure if a freelance designer could tackle it? Or, maybe you never worked with a freelancer and want to know what they have on offer? We’ve researched the most popular freelance designer services, so you can find out if an on-demand specialist can help you.
Today, freelance graphic designers account for 90% of the total industry participation. They work with companies, from startups to enterprises, but small businesses are their primary clients.
Most work done by freelance graphic designers is linked to advertising. They create social media graphics, ad banners, and promo materials. Also, graphic designers work on offline brand presence by developing printable materials, business cards, or merch.
Website design is the second most common service freelancers can offer. Around 18% of all web designers in the US work as freelancers. However, its number is expected to increase by 13% until 2030.
Web freelance designers offer website development and maintenance, prototyping, and mobile optimization services. Many large businesses and enterprises outsource their web design projects to freelancers and collaborate with them regularly.
Currently, there are three new websites created every second. And you need a UX designer to make each of them comfortable for the customers. In 2020, LinkedIn even put UX design in the top-5 hard skills in its survey, which means market demand is pretty high.
Freelance UX designers can help new businesses create a responsive website that’s easy to navigate for users. They can also give a refreshing touch to already existing web pages and improve their performance.
Brand freelance designers are especially invaluable for small businesses and startups during their growth stage. These specialists combine the skills of the graphic designer and marketing strategist and can jumpstart your business and grow its presence.
The working process of a freelance brand designer looks like a chain. The first link is analyzing the brand’s target audience and their triggers. From here, the brand designer adds new links: style guides, logo, brand book, printed materials, etc.
This project can span several months. Plus, the company might contact a brand designer again, i.e., rebranding or upscaling their business strategy.
86% of businesses in 2021 used video as a marketing tool. As a result, the demand for motion designers also increased, and many businesses today collaborate with them for their projects.
Tech startups hire freelance motion designers to make explainer videos for their products. Or, they can create animated sketches for social media to attract more customers. Also, motion designers often create website icons or small interactive elements to brighten up the interface.
You don’t have to be an FBI agent to do this. Look at the freelancer’s reviews and browse some of their former clients. Do they use the design a freelancer made for them? Are they satisfied with the results?
You can even reach out to the clients and ask them if their experience was good. If you see that something is off, switch to another candidate.
The worst time for candidate search is when you need designer freelance services for something urgent. In this case, you will feel too pressured to pick the first one that seems good at the first glance. And without proper screening, this can quickly turn into the wrong decision on your part.
The opposite is also true. If you hire a freelancer when a big deadline approaches, they will be more likely to work fast at the expense of quality. These scenarios won’t result in a positive experience for both parties.
Make sure that you have enough time to put into vetting and selecting the best candidate. The whole process might take anywhere from a couple of hours to weeks, so plan your time ahead.
Awesomic adapts its working process to a fast-paced environment of startups and businesses. Once you get matched with your designer, you can expect the first concepts in 24 hours or less.
Moreover, if you pick the Ultimate subscription, you will get the second designer and double your daily output. And all of a sudden, deadlines aren’t scary anymore. Join Awesomic today and get your stellar designs.
This is the thing you need to do before you begin to hire a freelance designer. Because even a skilled expert cannot read minds and won’t define what you want if you don’t know it yourself.
By giving a candidate a clear vision of the final product, you help them organize the process better and work towards delivering it. Plus, you can gauge how much time freelance designer work will take, and hence, can estimate the costs.
A freelancer’s hourly rate consists of their skill level, working speed, and specialization. Going specifically for the cheapest pricing, in most cases, might result in two scenarios. The first is getting a junior freelance designer who will work slower and deliver entry-level designs or even plagiarism.
The second scenario is stumbling upon the Jack of all trades that can do everything, but none of their designs will be particularly memorable. And the last thing you want is something generic. So it’s better to research the average freelance designer rate on the market and aim for candidates with middle prices.
Lack of trust between parties can turn even the best collaborative effort into a disaster. However, if you created a detailed brief and are satisfied by the test task, there’s no reason for turning into a control freak.
A designer has done dozens of similar projects before and typically has an algorithm that makes them efficient. And you can check the progress every couple of days, and guide them if there’s any misunderstanding.
Zippia career expert research shows almost 130,000 freelance designer jobs currently held in the US. Having such a broad market, where can you look for a good designer?
People actively use networking to build connections and exchange ideas online. And you can easily spot an expert by the way they communicate and hire them right away.
Plus, posting your job request on social media makes it instantly visible to lots of people. Instagram alone has over a billion active users worldwide, so sometimes, your ideal freelance designer will just be a few shares away from you.
The other side of the coin is that you might wait for months until someone reaches out to you if your network isn’t big or diverse. Or, someone might refer you to an entry-level graphic designer when you need a website guru because people don’t read posts thoroughly enough.
You can take another path and start looking for a graphic freelance designer from inside your team via referral programs. The process is easy: you ask your employees if they know someone who meets the demand, and when they refer you to a potential candidate, they get a reward.
People are more likely to accept an offer if a friend recommends it. So if you search for candidates through a referral program, you’ll be able to close the position pretty quickly.
However, your employees aren’t HR specialists. They don’t know all the insides of your company and might recommend someone who doesn’t meet your demand. And if you’re looking for a narrow specialist, this process might repeat several times.
You can browse web, graphic, product, and other freelance designers on numerous marketplaces like Upwork, Dribbble, or Behance. These websites allow you to filter freelancers by their skills and hourly rate. They also have tools to improve your communication and project management.
However, most freelance websites don’t check freelance designers for credibility. This means that you can easily stumble upon a low-level designer that mimics an expert. Or, you can even get clip arts and stolen ideas old to you as original designs.
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Finally, you can turn to design subscription websites that offer various design services for a fixed fee per month. Most of these platforms have a thorough vetting process: for example, Awesomic only works with designers with at least three years of experience.
Some platforms focus strictly on the design freelance services. Others might offer content writers, marketing strategists, and video editors.
When choosing design platforms, look for things like a trial period, unlimited revisions, and easily scalable plans. For example, Awesomic has an Ultimate subscription with two dedicated designers that can double your daily output and save you money in the long run.
Freelance websites remain the most common place for hiring on-demand experts. However, there are so many of them that even picking a starting point might make your head spin.
But are they worth the time and effort? Awesomic saved you hours of research and analyzed five most popular freelance marketplaces. Our team took a close look at their talent pool and their pros and cons, so you can make the right decision.
Getting yourself a freelance designer is quicker than looking for an in-house employee. However, this process can still stretch from literally minutes to weeks. The final time will depend on the approach you take, and below, we will look at three possible strategies.
If you own a startup or a small company, you will more likely find new candidates on your own. In this case, you will need to go through the following steps:
Here, you briefly describe the task, what services you need from a freelance designer, the format of deliverables, and estimated times. You can also set your budget or ask only designers with the specific hourly rate to apply if you want to sort them out at this stage. Creating a project scope typically takes from 2-3 hours to 1 day.
Post your project scope on a freelancer website or social networks like LinkedIn and receive the inquiries. At this stage, you can briefly evaluate freelance designer work by looking at cases in their portfolio and browsing reviews.
Or, you can take your project scope, reach out to the candidate directly, and start working right away. However, in most cases, you go through 2-3 iterations before scoring a perfect candidate. Some freelance designers might be busy and return your offer, and others might take days to respond. So you can easily multiply your estimated screening time by 3.
You can look at the freelance designer’s portfolio and see perfectly relevant cases, but negative work experience might ruin everything. To avoid this, you may ask a freelancer to perform a paid test task to see how they think on the go and communicate with you.
This could be something simple like creating a draft of the website structure or developing a small icon. If you’re satisfied with the overall process and result, proceed to work on your main project.
Hiring 1-on-1 is a common method of getting yourself a freelancer, but it’s far from perfect. It takes a lot of time and resources because you have to make sure your candidate is skilled, credible, and won't vanish amidst the working process.
You can try to avoid this by asking a freelance designer to sign the contract and NDA. However, this just adds another level of bureaucracy and stretches the process further in time.
If you need multiple freelance designers and don’t want to spend weeks assessing them, you can delegate this work to an HR team. They usually have tools to speed up the process and screen several freelance designers at once.
An HR specialist typically works with a recruiting team. A recruiter is a person who creates the job description and posts it on different channels. Also, they prescreen candidates and assign them test tasks to select the best candidates.
Then, a recruiter transfers the information to the HR specialist. This person schedules interviews and determines who will be the best fit in your team. These steps combined can take up to 2-3 weeks. A time that you might not have.
Also, HR services are pretty costly. You need to pay them a salary based on their average hourly rate, which is $27 per hour in the USA, according to the SalaryExpert. Add to that the median hiring cost, which is $1,633 per non-executive employee, and will quickly stack up if you need several freelancers.
Finally, you can hire a freelance designer through a flat rate design platform. These websites allow you to skip the tedious steps and get right to work.
Design platforms create their talent pool only from skilled freelance designers: the entry threshold for most of them is at least mid-level expertise. Plus, most of them have a 24-48 turnaround time for most design projects. This boosts the overall performance of your team and allows you to deal with urgent projects easily.
Also, flat rate platforms save you money. For example, Awesomic’s Ultimate plan is $2,490 per month or $29,880 per year, and you get two designers for this price. Considering that a single senior freelance designer earns $78,000 per year on average, Awesomic will cost you 5 times cheaper.
Recruiting a freelance designer is a multistep and resourceful process. But it isn’t much harder than looking for a regular designer, is it?
You can conquer this peak slowly and steadily like a professional climber. Post your request on social media, browse freelance websites and select the best candidates yourself.
Or, you can rent a helicopter and get right on the top. In this case, you can turn to design platforms like Awesomic. Their AI-powered algorithm has a 98% success rate and will match you with a perfect candidate in minutes.
Plus, at Awesomic, you’ll get daily feedback on your project and unlimited revisions until you feel that your design is perfect. All of this for a fixed fee per month. So, how do you feel about a helicopter ride?
A freelance designer can cover any design +gigs. They mainly focus on short-term projects that don’t extend over 2-3 months. Here are the main types of designers you can find as freelancers:
• Graphic designer — advertising for social media and emails, flier and brochure design, logo design, merch.
• Brand designer — style guides, brand books, branding kits.
• Logo designer — a narrow specialist, helps you craft unique and memorable logo.
• UI/UX designer — user research, prototyping, wireframes.
• Visual designer — printed materials, presentations
• Web designer — website layout, landing page, responsive design.
• Marketing designer — social media advertising, email funnels, ad campaigns
• Animation designer — short website animations, motion graphic, explainer videos
You will need three main documents to organize the work with a freelance designer:
• Contract. Here you write down all the specifics like project duration, deadlines, number of deliverables, services, etc.
• NDA. A non-disclosure agreement isn’t a mandatory document. However, you may ask a freelancer to sign it if your project has sensitive information.
• Invoice templates. They are needed to account for payments and taxes.
You can avoid signing the paperwork, but this has some risks. Your designer might vanish in the middle of the project or up the budget if you didn’t establish rates and terms.
If you need a safer option, you can choose flat rate platforms like Awesomic. They don’t require any paperwork at all. The only information your designer will need from you is brief and a couple of references.
This highly depends on the candidate’s skill, location, services they offer, and even a website you are looking on. For example, Freelancer.com has one of the cheapest rates because of designers from Central and East Asia. They also are mostly junior or mid-level, and you can score decent experts for $30-35/hour.
In contrast, Dribbble is a website with a certain entry threshold, and a lot of freelance designers there have at least a middle level of expertise. Thus, for $30/hour, you’ll more likely get yourself a junior freelancer, and a decent middle will cost you around $75-80 per hour.
Freelance designers aren’t tied to the fixed schedule, only to the deadlines and milestones. That’s why they typically work around 47 hours per month. About 26% of freelancers work more than 50 hours per week, and some of them work on weekends.
You can look for a freelance designer in Europe or Asia if you want to find an expert at a cheaper rate. Countries like Singapore, Spain, and Cyprus have lower prices than the USA, and you can save up to $10,000-30,000 per year.
However, your priority should be the quality of work. Hiring unprofessional designers with a cheap hourly rate will likely result in low-quality designs. And then you’ll have to look for another designer to fix their work.