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Updated: Sep 21

Learn how to source, vet, hire, and manage freelance graphic designers — and do it in a compliant manner with Liquid.


Need help with graphic design? Whether you need a new logo, images for your blog, or a designer’s touch on a deck or white paper, your best bet is probably to hire a freelance graphic designer. Bringing on a full-time or part-time graphic designer is likely to be cost-prohibitive, and you probably won’t have enough work to keep the designer busy.


Decide whether you need a freelancer or an employee for graphic design.


Whether you need to engage a freelancer or an employee depends on many factors, including your type of business, the ongoing pipeline of work, and the importance of your deadlines. The more work and control you need over the worker, the greater the worker’s likelihood to be classified as an employee.


Designers generally need to spend less time on a project than other types of team members, so having a freelance resource or resources you can rely on and expand as needed is a great option. When hiring a freelance graphic designer, you’ll need to take into account where the designer is located – some states (and localities) have separate standards, such as California’s ABC test. If you can hire a designer as a freelancer, your company won’t incur payroll tax.


If your graphic designer is a freelancer, ensure that you have an Independent Contractor Agreement that specifies how the relationship will work. An attorney can review proposed freelancer engagements and provide specific guidance based on the applicable standards.


Do your research and ask questions.


It’s important to do your research on a graphic designer before bringing them to your team. Most designers have an online portfolio to showcase their work, style, and skills. Make sure the designer you’re hiring aligns with your brand and the look/feel you’re trying to achieve.


Communicate with the graphic designer ahead of time to learn about their process and make sure it works for you. A designer that asks more questions about your business and your goals is going to have a better understanding of what outcome you’re hoping to accomplish.


Set the budget and expectations prior to starting graphic design work.


Before starting a working relationship, it’s important to discuss the budget, rate type (hourly, daily, or per project), project expectations, and timeline for deliverables. The Work Order feature in Liquid makes it easy to specify the tasks and deliverables for all parties to agree to. This helps ensure that all details are agreed to in advance by both you and your designer.


Prepare your assets and references.


Graphic designers can be brought on to help with differing visual concepts from logo designs, to magazine layouts, to web designs, to packaging designs. Depending on how established your brand is, you may be utilizing existing assets. If you have branding visuals that are already established (such as a logo, color palette, or product photos), it’s important to gather all of those existing assets so your Designer can get started on the right foot. The same goes for your “must-have” assets – items that are essential to the design and a requirement for you.


The more information and background you can give to your designer, the better. Remember that they will be designing for your target audience, so define that audience as much as possible. It can also be helpful to identify your competitors (if any), so you can give your designer a reference of what has been done in your industry and possibly let them know what should be avoided so you stand out. In addition, it can be helpful to gather inspiration and reference visuals of the style and/or tone you’re interested in. It can be difficult to find the right design-focused wording to explain what you’re looking for, but sharing reference imagery with your designer is a good way to agree to style expectations.


Communicate clearly with your Graphic Designer.


For a smooth collaboration, you should discuss the best way to communicate with your designer and find a method that works for both of you. Understanding how you’re going to work together will help your designer focus more on what matters: the work.


Most graphic designers will set a few process reviews during a project. This is your time to give feedback. It’s essential as a client to give constructive feedback that is clear, direct, and useful. Trust the designer you’ve hired, and remember that they are designed for your target audience: your clients. So when reviewing work, avoid interjecting your personal tastes and preferences, and keep your larger business objectives in mind.


Pay your Graphic Designer Promptly


You don’t want to ruin a great working relationship with your Graphic Designer by forgetting to pay them. Make sure your contract with your Designer states how often you will pay, under what payment terms, and the acceptable methods of payment. If you use a Freelancer Management Software like Liquid, your Graphic Designer can effortlessly invoice you, allowing you to make seamless digital payments promptly.


Managing Graphic Designers with Liquid


If your graphic designer is a freelancer or independent contractor, Liquid makes it easy to manage your engagements month-to-month. Our system is designed to help you reduce costs, save time, and mitigate compliance risks when managing freelancers, independent contractors, and vendors.


Inviting a new graphic designer to complete your onboarding workflow takes less than a minute. When onboarding, you can either use your company’s contract template or Liquid’s standard template to execute an Independent Contractor Agreement. Our Work Order feature makes it easy to specify the tasks and deliverables for the engagement. With Work Order to Invoice Matching, there’s no more manual matching of invoices with work orders, and issues such as duplicate invoices or overbilling are automatically flagged for you. And you can securely pay Graphic Designers in 175+ countries.

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4 min read

6 Tips for Hiring and Managing a Freelance Graphic Designer

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