How To Find A Qualified Designer for your next Project


Whether you are just starting out as an internet marketer, a seasoned business person or just a mom-and-pop shop you will eventually need a designer to create a whole plethora of designs for you. You may even be a veteran designer yourself, but there comes a time when out sourcing some designs is the only answer.

But how do you find a quality freelance designer who knows his, or her, stuff and won’t screw you over? Read on to find out how to get top class designers begging you for work, how to qualify them all, how to weed out the bad, how to finally choose one and how to handle payments properly and safely.

Before you begin

This isn’t a course on project management, but there are a few things you have to know before you can even start looking for a designer.

1) A high-class (aka: a good designer you can trust) will not even look at poorly written job proposal. It simply isn’t worth their time.

Think about it: if the designer is already a successful freelancer, then they know what to look for and they know which jobs will pay. Therefore, they know to look for quality written job proposals because then they know exactly what the client wants. And when the client knows what they want, it makes the designers job a lot easier. Which brings us to the second point.

2) Make sure you have a complete project description.

This doesn’t mean post the whole project idea and description up on the web for the whole world to see, but make sure you have the completed idea somewhere in your notes.

You have to know everything that needs to be done and in the way you want it to be done. If you have examples of the style you want used, make sure you keep links or copies of them that you can give to the designer. Once you have picked the designer, then it’s time to give them the full details, not before.

3) No great designer will work for pennies, unless you make it really interesting…

If you’re outsourcing that means you are trying to save (and thus earn more) money, but asking top rated designers to work for cheap just isn’t going to happen. BUT, if you make it very interesting and very creative they just might be willing to do it. This highly depends on the project and the mood of the designers, but once in a full moon you will be able to snag a great deal.

For the most part though, top rated designers do come with a hefty price tag. What is very interesting though is that if you don’t require the creme of the crop designer, you can still get professional and high quality designers for a good low price. You just have to shop around.

4) Don’t forget to shop around.

There is no one best place to find a designer. In this dime-a-dozen economy they can be found in all the usual places and even the most unusual places. Look at the designer job boards, freelance sites and even on designers private website. Ask anyone worth asking because you never know who will get back to you with a positive response.

Where to find designers

Designers are everywhere, you just have to know where to look. Here is a quick list of just some of the places you can find great freelancers.

Get A Freelancer (GAF)

GAF is one of the most well-known freelance site for both employers and freelancers. It features many categories of which one will most likely fit your needs. There are plenty of freelancers looking for work there. You can also post job with your requirements (more on this later). This is definitely one place you should look.

Freelance Switch

This blog based design website is a premiere site for designers and the like. With fresh content each week, many designers visit and sign up through this site. You are bound to find not only many designers here, but also very knowledgeable and friendly designers. This site is more community based than job board based.

Digital Point Forums

The Digital Point forums are a great learning resource, but they are likewise a great place to find freelancers. Under the Business section there is the “Buy, Sell or Trade” forum. There you can post your job and find many other DP users who can do the job for you, or at least point you in the right direction. This is a rather friendly forum and fun to hang out at, so be sure have a presence there before posting in the job board.

Creating A Quality Job Post That Will Gather Attention

You do not need to be a marketing expert to create a job post but you do need to create an attractive and descriptive title and description.

A title such as “I need a designer” is not good. You need to be more concise so that you can attract the right type of designer and not just bottom feeders. You title should be reasonably descriptive. Something like “Logo design needed for Design niche website” is significantly more descriptive and will garner more attention. Try to mention what specific item(s) you need and for what niche at a minimum. Also try not to make the title too long. 7-12 words max.

The job description should include what items you want them to do, such as a logo, banner,  or site design. It should also include your style requirements and any examples you want to show them. It’s also a good idea to state the time frame.

Let’s review, a good title will:

  • Be short, but descriptive.
  • State the item or items needed to be made
  • List the Niche or topic
  • If it’s a fast or small job, state so (ie: “quick job”).

A good project description will:

  • Restate what needs to be designed.
  • Give a time frame
  • List your design requirements:
    • Color
    • Size
    • Style
    • ect…
  • List of example work to explain some style points if need be
  • List the budget (more on this below).
  • State payment process (if need be, also more on this later)

But there is one more extremely important part which will significantly increase the quality of freelancer you can choose from and ease your vetting!

Pre-Vetting Designers

One step which most people never do and regret later, unless they get lucky, is to pre-vet people who respond to them. What is ‘vetting’? It’s the process of weeding out the bad and leaving the good! Pre-vetting is simply for doing this process before the actual selection process.

This is done in a very simple way on your job posts. At the bottom of your job post, you give the respondents a simple task to complete. This is not something such as making a mock-up design, it’s something very simple and really a no-brainer assignment. It’s a task that even a monkey could do!

Here is a short list of task you can pick from:

  • “Respond to this job post with ‘I understand all the requirements!’ for me to consider you. Failure to do so will mean you will not be considered”
  • “To make sure that you understand the requirements please Respond to this message/Private message me/E-mail me/Contact me with the message ‘I read all the requirements and understand it all’. If you do not I will not consider you for the job.”
  • “To be considered for this job, please answer this preliminary question first: Is a hot fire hot or cold?”

See? You ask them to do something very simple. If they are unable to complete this extremely simple task or answer the question then they probably don’t have the brains to follow any of your other instructions.

Interviewing Potential Designers

After your job has been posted for a few days you will have several replies. From the people who replied, select the ones who replied correctly. Out of those who replied correctly, it’s time to sit down and interview them.

You do not have to do a full-blown job style interview, but there are several things you will want to know about them. You will also not want to interview them all.

Some job board websites have bidding and user ratings for each job and designer. If a designer bid above your budget, then it’s probably safe to ignore them. Try to follow these tips when picking final interview candidates:

  • Does the user have a good rating? Yes? Good!
  • Ignore users with no previous jobs done, zero rating(s) or a negative rating/feedback.
  • Do not pick designers to bid above your budget. Though you can try to talk to them and negotiate a lower price.
  • Talk to the highest rated users first.
  • Don’t care if they don’t speak (or type) English (or your language) perfectly. This is design, not highschool English class.

When you are talking to the candidates, there are several very important things to ask for which will ensure that they are good for you and your project. You should ask:

  • Have they done this type of project before?
  • When (ie: how fast) can they complete the project?
  • Do they have a portfolio to show you of their previous work?
  • Do they have references?

The most important aspect is can you work with them. Do they fit you and the project? What’s the point of getting a great designer if you can’t stand them?

Weigh all the attributes and pick one that works for you. Don’t forget, pick one that has proof of past history of quality. And don’t be afraid to call their references!

How to handle payment

Usually the designer will be paid full price at after the project is complete. This is the norm for project such as logo designs, banners, ads, and (smaller) web page design. If you order through a private or company website, then you might have to pay upfront.

If you use a site like GAF or Freelance Swtich then payment will most likely be through Paypal. Most designers have their own Paypal account, so if you don’t have one make sure you create and verify one before you post to job boards.

For any small job, like the banner or page design, it’s ok to pay the designer after the project is complete. But if you have a larger scale project, the most secure way to establish payment is with milestone payments and through an escrow account.

An escrow account will hold your money for you, and is guaranteed for the designer at certain intervals and after approval from you. They are many places to create escrow accounts and each place will act as the 3rd party intermediary should any problems arise.

After project completion

Once you have sent the payment for the project, be sure to give a small tip. It’s not required but is a good gesture if the designer did a very good job and in a very quickly. This also creates loyalty. The designer is significantly more likely to work for you more often in the future if you treat them well.

If you are satisfied with their work, be sure to keep their name on file for future work or to reference them to others. If you send work to them, they are also very likely to recommend you (and your products) to their friends and clients.

Don’t be afraid to ask your own questions to the designers or to even ask for recommends of other designers for other tasks (if your current designers isn’t an expert at a certain task). Be friendly and they will surely do an extremely good job for you now and in the future.



  1. This is a really helpful article. I do a lot of the design work myself, but I have people help with other things. I like to treat it as if I would be hiring for a large company.

  2. Piotr Krzyzek

    Thanks for the responses.

    @Maverick: I left out Elance on purpose. It’s a great place to find workers (and work), but I rather dislike their whole system and layout. Plus the annoying signup fee’s.

    I understand your dislike of the ‘i all understand all the requirements’ trick. It’s not something I do often, except on lower profile, fast, quick cash jobs. I completely agree with you also it’s also a bit degrading to the ‘real’ designers, but for fast work it helps filter out the junk providers.

    @sinsdesign: I never said that the new people don’t have a chance, it’s that I generally don’t give them one unless they can prove that they can actually do the work. Generally speaking, someone with a good profile will be a safer choice than a newbie with no background. I’m thinking of this in a brick-and-mortar interview terms … who are you more likely to follow? Someone with a good history? Or the new kid on the block?

    Thanks for the honest replies.

  3. Maverick

    some good points… but i felt ‘I understand all the requirements!’ trick was damn stupid. frankly speaking being a designer if the buyer asked me to do such silly things i might think that he/she is dumb and would be very skeptical of proceeding with this buyer. hence i will recommend that skip that silly step.

    and u missed in the list to find some good providers and buyers.

  4. So if you are a good designer but you just opened an account on any of these sites .. you don’t have any chance of getting a job? I don’t agree with your tip about ignoring users with no previous job done. I think they deserve a chance. How did the rest of the designers got their first ratings anyway?

  5. Very nice article. I agree with you on tips. I’ve got a tips from one of my client, not big, but it made me happy. It shows us that they really respect me.