To Hire or Not to Hire: Working with a Professional Graphic Designer

by Jacqui Miyabayashi of Mee a Bee


If you’re in business then at some point you’re going to be needing a banner, maybe an avatar, a cute picture for your Facebook fanpage… If you’re online the need for imagery is endless.

When I started Mee a Bee three years ago I signed up with Etsy and took advantage of the free resources offered there to create a banner for my shop. It was fairly generic and exactly the same as hundreds of other shops who’d chosen the same design. It did nothing to tell my customers what Mee a Bee was all about.

I have a real can-do attitude so I decided to make my own logo using professional graphic designing software (from Adobe). It was a huge learning curve and I finally decided it was best left to the pros! I put out a call for a graphic designer on Elance but in the end I chose a graphic designer that I found on Etsy. If you search for “banner” on Etsy you’ll find thousands of listings from great designers offering their services.

I found a really nice woman who touched up the logo that I had made myself. She was able to make it the right size and make it look less homemade. And all for a great price. I was really pleased with the outcome.

As my business grew I became increasingly aware of the importance of branding, that is creating a consistent and recognizable image for my product across the board. Fonts, colors and the logo you use need to reinforce your image. To get the idea have a go at this quiz on How About Orange.

With branding in mind a hired a new graphic designer with whom I could have an ongoing relationship. I had a much firmer idea of what I wanted this time round. Of course being a small business I was worried about cost. I was honest from the outset and told her what my budget limitations were. Luckily my designer agreed to undertake the work. To make it easier and to save costs I was very detailed in my brief. These are some points that are worth keeping in mind:

  • Graphic designers are not mind-readers so you need to be very clear about what you expect. Even if you are not an artist you must have a vision of what you want your image to convey. Is it whimsical and playful; modern and edgy; or dreamy and romantic?
  • Do your research. Take a look through the designer’s online portfolio to make sure he/she is capable of achieving what you are asking. As artists they each have their own style.
  • Provide some links to pages that you love to give your designer an idea of what you’re going for. A good designer will ask a lot of detailed questions before agreeing to take on your project, after-all their reputation is at stake.
  • Think about your colors and fonts. I chose my own color palette from ColourLovers.com and some fonts from DaFont.This is useful information to have for when you are ordering stationery or other items where you might be able to incorporate your brand. It also cut costs as my designer didn’t need to make a lot of revisions. I was happy with what she came up with right off the bat.
  • It helps if you have an idea of how much professional graphic designers charge. An online search should dig up some user-friendly pages with the pricing outlined. From there you can determine your budget.

There is a lot you can do online yourself for free or at little cost. You can create your own banners, make a logo, edit a photo and add text for an avatar. You can even download free or trial software to have a go at graphic designing yourself. But in my opinion you get what you pay for. Ultimately I am not a graphic designer so even the simplest thing takes me hours to create – frankly my time is better spent elsewhere. Hiring a professional graphic designer was one of the best decisions I have made in the past year and worth every penny.

My logo was designed by Japanese graphic designer Chieco Tanabe. I think she is just fabulous.

10 comments

  1. Tonya says:

    You posted this at just the right time!! My original banner for my Etsy shop and blog were made from an etsy artist. She does things a bit differently, in that she actually paints a background with real paint, then creates from that. But, now I am ready for something new, brighter, etc. I am creating a website soon, and I need it all to be just right!!
    I think I’ll save up now, instead of my original idea to DIY.

  2. Jacqui says:

    Tonya, I can’t recommend it strongly enough. I literally wasted so much time trying to DIY my own logo. My graphic designer was fantastic in that she gave me all the files so I can easily change the sizes when necessary. Save up!

  3. Chonte says:

    I was facing this delimma last year and found a husband and wife team (my design duo) who have helped me brand my name. Not only with a fantastic logo but with a website also…my miracle workers are pish posh design!

    Jennifer is such a great listener and got the vision I was looking for in my “little head of thoughts” and Roy is wonderful with assisting in any technical situations… Best investment I’ve made!

  4. This is a lesson I have learnt the hard way. Every day I sit in front of my computer and look at my website that was done quickly and on the cheap and feel disappointed with the results. Next time I will be spending a lot more time getting it just right. I have already printed off your article and have it in my office Jacqui for things to keep in mind for next time. Definitely leave it to the professionals.

  5. Sarah says:

    Such a great article & so true! I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, starting with an online childrens boutique 6 years ago. I outsourced my logo & web design & was thrilled with the results! Years & several businesses later however, I am now on the design side. I absolutely LOVE working with new businesses & creating a brand out of their name! I can honestly say, after years of struggling to find my niche, this is my passion; helping others take “their” passion to the next level!

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