Let me preface this post by saying, that good graphics and design work does not come cheap. It takes time, talent, skill and a lot of creativity. The following are tips and tricks I’ve learnt over the last few years to reduce the dollar value that you pay for your graphics work.
- Get multiple graphics designers not just one.
- Have atleast one graphic designer on a retainer (the one you would use the most).
- Learn Photoshop. It’ll save you loads of money and time in the long run.
Graphics becomes much cheaper when you have a designer you love and whose hourly rate you can afford. Personally, since we are bootstrapping at Shoutt, we can afford about $20-$25/hr.
1. Finding a designer
Resources I use - scoutzie (mobile designers), dribbble
Before you fall in love with a designer, make sure you can afford them. It’s hard to guess what a designer charges without contacting them first. In most cases, you’ll have to send them an email to find out their rates. However, on Scoutzie you can see the budget ranges that a designer charge. Find a range that fits in your budget. You can go one range higher. So if you are looking for designer whose range is <$1000. Also consider, the designers in the $1000 - $3000 range.
You’ll find this is mostly people outside the US where the value of a dollar is higher. You can often use this as a filter to narrow down on any other website as well. It’s important to find someone whose style you love and who preferably has experience in what you are looking far.
It’ll take a while to find someone awesome but trust me they are out there. It usually takes me anywhere between 1 - 2 hrs to find 1 designer that appeals to me and fits in my budget. I send out about 6-8 emails before I finalize on one designer. On average, I spend about 8-10 hours on one designer. That may seem like a lot of searching but it’s well worth the effort.
2. Pitch your product
You need to sell your idea. When you write to your designer, you need to excite him. Pitch your product. Include references to past & present projects that’ll excite him. He might not lower the rate, but he’ll take the time to understand your product well and this will get you better designs.
3. Start with Individual Projects
Though this may cost a little more than the hourly rate, it’ll give you a chance to work with each other and see how you like it. You should start with something small (maybe an ad campaign, a facebook cover page, or screenshots for your iPhone app or something else). The magic number that I’ve found that most designers respond to is $200. This is a good price-point for you to try out a couple of designers before you find the one.
4. Paint a clear vision
It’s important that you communicate your idea well . It makes the process faster and infinitely more efficient. You need to paint a clear vision of what you need. Take the time to draw wireframes or sketches. This will also help you refine your idea. Provide a lot of references. An image is indeed worth a thousand words.
5. Creative Freedom
Give your designer creative freedom. Great Ideas are built together. Finding a designer whose instincts you can trust will save you tons of time and money in the long run.
6. Learn Photoshop
I can’t insist how critical this is to lowering your cost. There is manual work in graphic design as well. For example, your designer has to slice the psd file he creates into individual images for you. You could save a bit of money by slicing the files your selves. Additionally, more often than not, you’ll need to make small changes, changes that are too small to send across to your designer. Take the time to develop basic skills. It is an investment but you’ll end up saving both time and money in the long run.
7. Get your designer on a retainer
Once you find a designer you like and work on a few projects together, start negotiating an hourly rate and get him on a retainer. Freelance Designers often look to get on retainers as it guarantees them a monthly income. The more hours you can guarantee your designer, the cheaper your costs become. It’s like buying goods in bulk.
Further, this will create trust and help you feel like your batting on the same team.
8. Give work in batches
Once you have a designer on retainer, he might become your goto graphics guy. You might send across every little change you need (I initially did this a lot). Remember, your designer has other projects as well. He’ll want to sit down for a couple of hours and just work on one project. Giving him small changes that only take a few minutes and he might try to squeeze them between other projects. Your project will not get the focus it deserves. This can be very frustrating to both of you and can strain your relationship.
9. Understand the work involved
Different kinds of designs cost differently. Marketing graphics (ads) are cheaper than UI/UX work. UI/UX work on web is cheaper than on mobile. Understanding the difference is important since you might have the same budget for all types of graphics.
10. Get multiple designers.
As I stated in my previous point, you might want to have different designers for different kinds of work. Understand what your designer excels at and give him exactly that kind of work. He’ll work much faster as it comes naturally to him. This saves you a lot of time and consequently money. At Shoutt, We have separate designers for UI/UX work vs Marketing work
It’s taken me a couple of years to learn these things and I continue to learn new things everyday. I still spend a lot of time looking for good designers and when I find them I hold onto them with great care. I know the value of good design and more importantly, the value of a good designer.
Discuss on HN
P.S - Once you find someone you love, then its’ time to tango -