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Art by Brad Cuzen

5 steps to finding the right freelance graphic designer

Every business needs a graphic designer from time to time. But many companies can’t afford to hire a full-time designer to keep on staff. That’s where freelancers come into the picture.

There are tons of freelance graphic designers for hire out there with various skill sets, skill levels, and price ranges. So how do you go about hiring the right freelance graphic designer for your business? And where can you find a professional and reliable freelance graphic designer that’s available right now? Let’s get straight into it.


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Step 1: Define your needs

First things first, it’s important to know exactly what you need from a freelance graphic designer before you hire one. Here are a few important questions to ask yourself:

✔️ Is it a one-off project or long-term need?

If it’s a one-off project, you’ll likely want to look for a graphic designer who specializes in the kind of design you need. If you’re looking for a designer you can form a long-term relationship with, a graphic designer with more general skills may be a better fit.

✔️ What’s your budget?

What’s your budget for a freelance designer? Know that more experienced graphic designers will command higher fees than newer designers. But that doesn’t mean a newer graphic designer won’t be able to meet the needs of your project. A lot depends on the scope of the project and how complex it is.

✔️ Will you also need a project manager?

Do you need a project manager or just a graphic designer? Not all designers have sufficient project management skills to manage a large or complex project. There are a couple of ways to solve that: You can hire a separate project manager (or find someone within your organization who can fill that role) or hire a designer with a project management background.


Checklist by Sara Utgés


Step 2: Write a design brief

Be sure that you have a thorough project brief prepared before you start looking for a freelance graphic designer. Your brief should include the scope of the project, timeline, as well as your budget. Be sure to include things like how many concepts you’d like to see as well as anything you definitely don’t want (such as anything that resembles a competitor’s logo).

Pro tip: If you’re looking for a very specific design style or aesthetic for your project, create a moodboard with visual examples to share with your freelance designer. You can create a moodboard by saving Shots to a Collection on Dribbble.

✏️ Need help creating a design brief? Answer the questions in this brand questionnaire to better understand your design needs.


Design Brief by Ricardo Santos


Step 3: Use a freelance job board

At this point, you should be ready to start your search for the right graphic designer. Freelance job boards provide a couple of options for finding freelance graphic designers. The most obvious is posting an ad for a designer. This should detail what the project will entail, the timeline, and the budget, as well as any experience requirements. (This is where your design brief comes in handy!).

Don’t sit passively by and wait for graphic designers to apply to your project.

A word of caution: Don’t just sit passively by and wait for graphic designers to apply to your project. Many freelance design job boards allow you to browse graphic designer portfolios to find those you might want to work with. You can then reach out to those freelance graphic designers and invite them to apply or bid on your project.

Note: If you’d rather contact freelance graphic designers directly (rather than use a project board), you can browse through available freelance graphic designers for hire on Dribbble.


in the zone ✨ by studiokat


Step 4: Review portfolios

A graphic designer’s portfolio is a key element to determining whether they’ll be the right fit for your project or not. A portfolio will show off the kinds of designs they’re capable of, as well as their style.

Look for graphic designers who have projects similar to your needs in their portfolio. This shows you that they’re capable of creating the kinds of designs you’re looking for. For example, if you need a logo design for a branding project, you won’t want to hire a freelance graphic designer who only has examples of social media design in their portfolio.

Lastly, be careful of graphic designers who only have mockups or “practice” projects in their portfolios. While this doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be a good fit for your project, a lack of experience working with actual clients should be reflected in their fees.


Layers by Lucas Wakamatsu


Step 5: Interview your top candidates

Interviews can tell you a lot about what it will be like to work with a particular freelance design candidate.

Be sure to ask graphic design candidates questions about specific projects in their portfolio to start with. You’ll also want to ask them about their design process. Make sure that they’re able to work within the structure of your current team and that they can meet any deadlines you have.

In addition, pay attention to how the designer interacts with those interviewing them. This is especially important if you want to work with a designer long-term. You’ll want to make sure that the freelance graphic designer you hire will fit in with the team and with the company culture. Even on shorter-term projects, though, you’ll want to make sure the designer you hire is a good fit.


interview by Albee Shen


How to hire the right freelance graphic designer

Spending time upfront to find the right freelance graphic designer will save you time, effort, and money down the road. The right graphic designer will understand your project and your company’s needs with less back and forth, and they’ll have the skills and experience necessary for success.

Ready to get your design project started? Hire a freelance graphic designer today.


Cameron Chapman About the Author — Cameron Chapman: Editor. Blogger. Author. Designer. Copywriter. Marketer. Entrepreneur. Speaker. Consultant. Coach. I wear a lot of hats. What most of them have in common, though, is storytelling.


Find more Process stories on our blog Courtside. Have a suggestion? Contact stories@dribbble.com.


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