How to Hire a Graphic Designer in 7 Steps
This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
A graphic designer can give you visual representations of your ideas. These can be through logos, flyers, pamphlets, packaging, and reports. To ensure you select the right designer for your project, you should determine your specific needs, budget, and timeline.
Follow our guide to learn how to hire a graphic designer who fits those parameters and your culture.
Step 1: Identify Graphic Design Needs
The first thing you have to decide is how often you need graphic design services. If you need graphic designs for every project—and those projects are frequent or come under short notice—you may need a full-time graphic designer. They are typically cheaper over a longer period than freelancers. Also, they will most likely have a better grasp on the company’s vision and can make changes or shift projects faster than a freelancer.
If your business has projects that are consistently due around the same time each quarter or year, you may decide to hire a part-time or freelance graphic designer under an ongoing contract. But if your business has a one-time project, you may want to consider a freelancer. For part-time projects, freelancers typically are less expensive. You can find both short- and long-term freelancers on gig platforms, like Upwork.
Step 2: Think About Budget
To understand how much to budget for, you first need to understand the typical costs. Then, you have to determine how much money you can allocate for graphic design resources and how vital those services are to your company’s success. That may help you decide whether to hire an experienced designer or a designer who is just beginning to build their portfolio.
According to Indeed, the average graphic designer makes around $22/hour, with a typical hourly range of $7.25 to $41.20, with the more experienced graphic designers on the higher end of the scale. The average salary for full-time graphic designers is around $51,290. For a freelancer, Upwork’s median range for graphic designers is at $15 to $35/hour with rates that can go as high as $150/hour.
Step 3: Determine Timeline
Before hiring a designer, you need to identify the timeline of your project. It should allow enough time:
- To have conversations with the designer about your company, the goals of the project, and specific items that must be included in the project
- To allow the designer to research your industry, your competitors, and similar projects in scope and scale
- To have brainstorming sessions and check-in meetings to make sure you and the designer are on the same page
- For the designer to work on the project
- For last-minute revisions, reviews, and edits before submitting the final project to your client or co-worker
By having these items in place, you should be able to avoid any unexpected problems or issues that can derail the project.
There are a couple of additional items to consider when building out your project timeline:
- More experienced and well-known designers might have existing projects on their schedule, meaning your project may start weeks after you engage them on a project. You should discuss with the designer the date they can start to devote time to your project to avoid any surprises.
- Experienced designers may charge more for their services, but they also may take less time to complete the project. New designers may provide a similar quality project for less but may need more time to complete the project. You should always discuss with designers how long it will take to complete the project and if they have done similar work in the past.
- You may pay a premium fee if the project is considered to be rushed or last minute. You should discuss with your graphic designer typical turnaround times for any projects to see if your project schedule can be changed to potentially save money on the project.
As a reference, Glassdoor lists the following times for common projects:
- Flyer: 1–10 hours
- Logo: 5–20+ hours
- Infographic: 5–20+ hours
Step 4: Research Potential Graphic Designers
To ensure that you hire a qualified graphic designer, you should follow some, if not all, of the following tips:
- Converse with people in your network. You should have conversations with people in your network who have worked with graphic designers in the past. If there is a design or logo or marketing material you like, you may want to reach out to the company and see who the designer is. You should also ask them whether they had a negative or positive experience working with the designer.
- Web search for graphic designers. Another way to search for a graphic designer is running an online search. One of the most popular websites to find gig workers is Upwork.
- View online portfolios. Once you have an idea of potential designers to reach out to for an interview, you should look to see if they have a website with examples of their work.
Step 5: Create a Job Description & Ad
Once you have an idea of potential designers to reach out to, you should determine if you want to open the application process up to other applicants. To do so, you will need to craft a job description that covers the company culture, job requirements, and a compensation range. You’ll use these to advertise your job.
Check out our top-recommended job boards for ideas on where to post your open graphic designer position.
Step 6: Interview Candidates
Once you compile your list, you can begin scheduling interviews. While interviewing applicants, you should ask questions that give you insights into the designer’s personality, work style, experience, and reliability.
No matter how great the designer is, you will not have a good experience if you cannot work with them. Differences in personality between the designer and the employer may actually help create better designs and projects but only to the extent that parties can co-exist. You need to ensure that the designer is a good listener, respects your vision of the project, and is not afraid to speak up if they see potential issues with the project (whether that is the expectation, design, or timeline).
Common questions to ask when hiring graphic designers include:
- What are the questions you ask at the beginning of each project and why?
- How do you handle negative feedback from a client?
- How do you work with collaborators (i.e., project managers, developers, and copywriters)?
You also need to figure out how your designer likes to work and how it matches your company and the specific project. Do they like more freedom in their projects to express their creativity? Or, do they like specific parameters where they can make sure that they meet the client’s deliverables? Knowing the answers to these questions right out of the gate will help with communication between you and the designer in the long run.
Common questions to gauge work style include:
- What do you do when you hit a creative wall?
- What’s your creative process?
- Tell me about a time when a project changed dramatically. How did you adapt to the change and how did the project turn out?
You will also like to know a bit about their education, which clients and projects they have worked with, and what products they are comfortable working with. This helps you not only compare the skills of the applicants but with setting your budget.
Common questions to ask when inquiring about their experience include:
- What software programs are you proficient in?
- How did you design your portfolio?
- Tell me about the projects you have worked on. What is one of your proudest projects and why?
Finally, you need to find out whether the designer has an understanding of working under deadlines. They should express a comfort level of discussing realistic timeframes with their clients at the beginning of a project and showing a level of professionalism that involves showing up on time and prepared to check-in meetings and consultations.
Common questions to ask include:
- How do you deal with tight deadlines?
- Describe a time where you had to juggle two projects at the same time?
- Describe a challenging project. What made it challenging and what was the result?
Step 7: Make a Decision & an Offer
Once you complete your interview process, keep in mind that you need:
- Uniform criteria for the final evaluation. With the four categories in the interview section, create universal criteria so that you can judge all applicants fairly. There are multiple rating scales; some popular options include “yes or no,” a numerical range (e.g., 1 to 5), or a “word” scale (poor to great). You should use these for both individual questions and the final assessment. Once you receive the interview forms from the interviewers, you can start compiling the overall score for each interviewee. You may also provide more weight to certain interviewers than others.
- A final decision maker. There should be multiple people in the interview process, so in the case of not having a unanimous decision, you need someone to have the last say. Founders, executives, human resource managers, and direct supervisors are all known to have the final say on which applicant is selected. For hiring a graphic designer, you may want to give the final decision to the individual who is working the most with the designer and/or has the most technical knowledge of the project. In many cases, that would be the direct supervisor.
- An offer letter. Once you make the decision on who you want to hire, you can provide them with an offer letter that details the benefits of accepting the position. If you need help on creating one or what items to include in it, please see our guide to offer letters and use the free template. If your top applicant accepts your offer, it is a good policy to let your other candidates know that you have decided to go in another direction.
For more general information on hiring, check out our guide on how to hire employees.
There are many benefits to hiring a graphic designer. Some examples may include helping your company raise employee pride and productivity through a rebranding project, increasing customer interaction on your website, and keeping clients interested with new visuals. By ensuring you take the time to figure out both your project and designer, you can help mitigate any potential pitfalls.