If you’re in need of design services and are considering hiring a graphic designer for the first time, it can be a bit daunting. I certainly have felt this way when I’ve considered hiring for a service provider (like a hairstylist or pet sitter). Personally, I get all these questions rolling through my head like “how much do they charge?”, “are they reliable?”, “will I like their work?”, just to name a few. Hiring a designer is very similar to hiring for any other professional service provider. And while I can’t speak to every graphic designer out there, nor say that this is exactly how it should be, I can give you my process and thoughts on how it should go.

A Consultation Should Always Be Acceptable

More often than not, you’re going to be hiring this person to do at least a couple hundred dollars worth of work. But no matter your project size, a designer should always be happy to have a quick call with you ahead of time to at very least allow you to ask questions about them and the services they provide. Personally, I think phone or video chat are best since they are time efficient (ie: no travel time), and personalities can come across better than in an email or message.

I’m willing to bet, if you’re taking the time to read this, you’re probably looking to hire someone for a project that is time consuming and/or very dear to your heart. Whether it’s a logo design, branding, book formatting, or marketing materials to get your business moving in the right direction, you will probably have quite a bit of back-and-forth communication with this person. And it’s very likely you will use them for additional work in the future. So you want to make sure this person fits your style, personality and basically that you two get along.

A call can allow you to feel out how they communicate, how they might tackle problems and give them the chance to explain their process.

My calls typically involve an introduction, me asking more about your project and your vision of that project. I’ll also ask about any hard or desired deadlines. After that, I’ll explain some of my process for your type of project and I’ll see if you have any questions for me.

Estimates are Totally Normal and to Be Expected

For me, after our call, I’ll provide you with a custom estimate for your project. This is a normal part of the process, and unless you and the designer already have an established relationship, they should be providing you a quote for your project. My quotes are typically a range, and the more unknown factors, the wider that range might be. This benefits you in the fact that I’m trying to be as transparent as possible about what it could cost you. If things go smoothly and you don’t have a lot of changes, the final price is usually closer to the lower number provided. If there are a lot of revisions, lots of back and forth or shifts in the project, it will probably be closer to the higher end.

What About Flat Rates for Projects?

While some designers might have some flat rates for particular things, often times projects are very unique and therefore require a custom quote. Flat rate design can be good for some projects, like maybe a business card, but many designers (myself included) prefer to quote out a project based on exactly what’s needed. Some people want really complex, unique designs, while others have a branding direction already established and just need it put together quickly and on-brand. It’s very hard to establish a “one price fits all” that doesn’t leave the client over paying, or the designer getting underpaid.

Contracts and Deposits

If you agree to the estimate and decide to move forward with a designer, it is common practice for them to provide a contract, and ask for some money up front. The contract merely protects the designer (and client) and lays out all the terms of the project. And the deposit (often 50% upfront) is to ensure the designer doesn’t get stiffed. Once again, a great reason for the contract because it’s also the designer providing proof they’ll provide the work promised.

Initial Design Concepts

For me, once I’ve received the signed contract and deposit, I’ll get started on your project. Turnaround will often depend on the complexity of the project, current workload, as well as what (if any) timeline we’ve discussed already. I almost always provide multiple initial concepts. I think it’s helpful for a client to get at least 2-3 concepts of a layout or design to spark their imagination. We’re all so different in what we like and this just helps get to the best design concept possible. I’ll email those concepts to you, with any necessary notes or explanations and then wait for your reply and feedback.


Revisions are very common and expected in the design world. It’s rare that a client says “great, looks perfect” after one round. Sometimes it’s just some text changes, sometimes it’s design changes/suggestions and yes, sometimes a mistake (always double and triple check everything!) Don’t feel bad about being honest here – designers are used to critique and if they’re a professional, you won’t hurt their feelings. The more detailed feedback you can provide will help the designer efficiently revise the design to your liking.

Final Artwork

Upon final approval, often times, the designer will have things to clean up, stock images to purchase, and/or appropriate files to provide you (ie: high res files for print). I recommend making sure something is ready to use beforehand – especially when it comes to print. You’ll usually receive low-res files during the design stage, to not bog down emails.

Print Management

This is also the time where your designer can often help with printing if your project requires such and if you want a hand. They usually have printers they work with and can provide quotes, print finish options and turnaround times. If you’re printing something on your own, just don’t forget about making sure you have print-ready files first.

Wrapping Up a Project

Once the project is completed, some people request or require native files. Some designers charge fees for this, I do not, although the time to gather anything is usually billable (typically 15 minutes of work). Remember that designer programs are often ones you may not have available. Hopefully though, you have now established a good relationship with your designer and now have them “on speed dial” if you should have future changes or future projects. And once a designer knows you, your workflow and your brand/style, they typically can provide lower estimates for your projects. Think of them like your dance partner. The more time you dance together, the more efficient and smooth the dance gets.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions!

Quick Guide to Hiring a Designer


Have a Conversation

Phone and/or video chat is the most efficient way to start the conversation and for you two to get to know each other!


Obtain a Quote

Your designer will probably mention sending a quote, but if not, don’t hesitate to ask for an estimate.

Contract & Deposit

Get it in Writing

If your designer doesn’t provide a contract, you may want to ask for one. A deposit is not unusual to ensure the designer gets paid.

Initial Design Concepts

The First Designs

Initial concepts are sent to the client for their review. (I like to provide multiple options/concepts.)


Rarely Perfect the First Time Around

Now is the time to provide feedback on changes, sometimes multiple rounds, to ensure you love the final piece.

Final Artwork

Is Your Design Finalized?

The designer will need to make sure you have final, cleaned up, print-ready (if needed) files.


Anything Else?

Let your designer know if you need anything else and keep their contact info handy for future projects!