There are lots of reasons to hire a designer – maybe it’s been 10 years since you got your website done. Maybe you just came up with your million dollar idea. Maybe you’re not inspired by your branding anymore. But are you ready to hire a designer?
There are a few things you need to know before you decide to move forward and hire out,
You’re not ready to hire a designer if…
You’ll know it when you see it
After thinking that maybe I could be the designer to break through, I’ve realized that “I’ll know it when I see it” is a 100% indisputable red flag that really means “I have no idea what I want so I’m going hold you accountable for creating both my vision and the assets.”
Why this is bad for the designer: This puts the designer in a TERRIBLE position as their goal should be to bring your vision to life, getting that feeling you’ve had in your head and heart onto the page and in front of your audience. When they don’t know what the end goal is, it’s incredibly hard to forge a path to get there.
Why this is bad for the client: This puts you, the client in a WORSE position because you’re not going to be happy – you’re going to feel frustrated because every concept you receive won’t be what you’re envisioning because you’re not yet envisioning anything. You’re going to worry that you’ve wasted your money, especially because you’re almost inevitably going to fall out of scope and exhaust your mockup and revisions, costing you even more than your base estimate. You might ultimately come to resent and mistrust designers because “why can’t they just figure out what I want?”. But the thing is, you have to know what you want before someone can create it for you.
Think of it this way: if you hired an architect and couldn’t tell her the style of house you wanted, the number of bedrooms, the number of floors, do you expect the architect to be able to draft up your dream house? Absolutely not. And perhaps as you work through concepts and drafts you’ll start to understand what you want, but ultimately, you’re going to be spending a lot to get there and you’re going to be irritated by the process.
You don’t have a budget
It helps to know what you want to spend on your branding or website, as this will help determine which designers are going to be able to work with you, what services you’ll receive with that, and the tools you’ll use to get there.
Why this is bad for the designer: The designer has to blindly determine what level of service they should provide for you without context, and even if you’re a good fit for the work they do.
Why this is bad for the client: You’re going in blind. It’s one thing if you have an unlimited budget and are only constrained by the possibilities (heyyyyyy!), but if that’s not you, this is something you should figure out pretty quickly. A few guiding questions should be: What amount won’t cause hardship for your business? What kind of return do you think you will get on design as an investment? How will you be paying for this (out of your business’ revenue? Out of your own pocket? Out of your savings? On credit?)?
You have 0 budget
If you can’t afford to hire a designer, that’s totally okay – there are TONS of DIY solutions out there for even the least tech-savvy among us. However, expecting someone else to work for free to help you turn a profit isn’t just unreasonable, it’s insulting.
Why this is bad for the designer: Designers are working people with bills to pay. When they go out of their way to volunteer for a cause that resonates with them, that’s one thing. But when they do so, it’s because they have the flexibility (read: paying clients) to make up for that time.
Why this is bad for the client: This just makes you look rude and cheap. When you ask a designer to work for free, you’re telling them you don’t think their work is valuable, you don’t take their career seriously, and while they’re good enough for you to want their work, they’re not good enough to be paid for it.
You have a nephew who just got Photoshop and he can do it cheaper
Great. Let him. See you in a few months.
What can I do to change that? How can I get ready to work with a designer?
Create a Pinterest board for your brand, website, and collateral.
Pin everything – offices that look like your dream workspace, outfits that you’d wear to a meeting, websites with cool features that you’d want to implement, color palettes that sing to you, photos of nature, textures and patterns you love. Go nuts! Eye Heart Creative’s branding was based partially on a rug and a pair of running shoes. True story.
Work with a strategist or a consultant
If you have an incredible idea but you’re not sure how to make it happen and what you’ll need to do to get to the next level, a strategist is going to be your new best friend. A great strategist will be able to jog your ideas with you, suggest solutions to pain points in your business, and offer insights into reaching your audience.
Take a business planning e-course
There are so many super effective e-courses out there to help small business owners build their businesses, and there are likely courses in your specific industry as well. Ask around in Facebook groups that you’re a part of or reach out to businesses you admire for recommendations.
You *are* ready to hire a designer if…
You have a clear, distinct vision that lives as the foundation to your goals
No one knows your business better than you do, and when you know your business well enough, you know your audience, their wants, their pain points, and you have a solution to offer. You also know where you want to go, where you want your business to go, and what success looks like to you.
You have a budget
You know what you can afford, what you expect as a return on that investment, and you know how you’ll be paying for your designer without other needs taking a hit.
You know what a designer does (and value it)
This one is tricky, because sometimes people just don’t know. A designer isn’t just an artist who makes things look nice. A designer solves problems with imagery, typography, placement, and aesthetic. We don’t just make things look nice – they should work well (while taking some work off of your plate). Our goal is to bring your vision to life in a way that will support your goals, whether that’s driving conversions, boosting subscriptions, getting sponsors, you name it.
You value your own time, expertise, and skill
Time is money, right? And let’s assume that your expertise is not design or development. Ever moment you spend learning how to DIY your site is money you’re spending on a skill that is not in your area of expertise. If you charged yourself your hourly rate, how much would you be spending? If you were working in those hours, either on developing your business expertise further or working with a client, what would you be making instead?
If this is something you’ve already considered, then you understand the value in hiring out instead of muddling through DIY. And don’t get me wrong – if you’re still in the DIY stage, more power to you. We all have to start somewhere, and for a lot of us, this is a stepping stone, not a starting point. And that’s okay.
So! Are you ready to hire a designer? Tell us about your experiences getting ready for a design project, or tell us how you’re prepping for your next design project in the comments.
If you feel ready to work with a designer, let’s talk!