Hiring a graphic designer is essential in today’s business landscape—they provide a visual representation of your business and ideas through logos, flyers, websites, or even reports. To ensure you choose the right one for your project, you should first determine your specific needs, budget, and timeline before even going over candidates’ resumes. Follow our guide to learn how to hire a graphic designer that fits those parameters and your culture.
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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 to hire 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 or you just need occasional graphic design help, you may decide to hire a freelance graphic artist under an ongoing contract. For one-time or part-time projects, freelancer services are typically less expensive.
When deciding how to hire a graphic designer, consider the different job titles that exist. Some common graphic designer job titles include
- Graphic artist
- Production artist
- UX designer
- Multimedia designer
- Graphic arts designer
- Web designer
- Creative designer
Step 2: Establish the 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 $21/hour—going as low as $12.57 and as high as $35.22 for the more experienced graphic designers. That’s around $56,851 yearly for full-time designers. 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 graphic designer, particularly a freelancer, you need to identify the timeline of your project. It should allow enough time for them to:
- Speak with you about your company, the goals of the project, and specific items that must be included in the project
- Research your industry, competitors, and similar projects in scope and scale
- Have brainstorming sessions and check-in meetings to ensure that you and the designer are on the same page
- Work on the project
- Handle last-minute revisions, reviews, and edits before submitting the final project to your client or co-worker
With 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.
- 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. Experienced designers may charge more for their services, but they also may take less time to complete the project. New designers, on the other hand, may provide a similar quality project for less but may need more time to complete the project.
- You may pay a premium fee if the project is considered to be rushed or last minute. You should discuss with your graphic designer the 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 timelines 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 artists in the past. If there is a design, 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 by running an online search or sifting through job boards. One of the most popular websites to find gig workers is Upwork—it is one of our recommended free job posting websites.
- 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.
For help creating your job description and ad, check out our how to write a graphic designer job description article.
Skills & Qualifications Required
When creating your job description and ad, list all the skills and qualifications that are required for the graphic designer job. These include:
- Communication and management skills
- Degree in graphic design or visual arts
- Expertise with graphic editors and software
- Number of years of experience with graphic design
- Portfolio of relevant work experience
- Understanding of basic marketing concepts
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.
Note that there are certain things you shouldn’t ask, as it could land you in hot water with the law. Check out our guide to common illegal questions for a list of things to avoid.
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. Download our free interview evaluation forms for some structure on how to prepare these.
- 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 artist, 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 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.
Graphic Designer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the difference between a freelance graphic designer and an in-house graphic designer?
A freelance graphic designer is one who is hired on a 1099 basis and paid either by the hour or by the project. They are not on your regular salaried payroll. Additionally, a freelance graphic designer may be working for other companies in addition to yours.
On the other hand, an in-house graphic designer is one who is employed through your company on a W-2 basis. They are expected to follow the same rules as other employees in your company and are likely not working with other businesses.
See our 1099 vs W-2 comparison for more information.
What are the benefits of hiring a freelance graphic designer?
Freelance workers will typically provide your business with higher-quality design work and faster turnaround times. And, since they are not W-2 employees, there are less overhead costs involved.
There are many benefits to hiring a graphic designer. Some examples may include helping your company increase employee pride and productivity through a rebranding project, boosting 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.