What to ask before hiring a graphic designer

You know it’s time to hire a professional graphic designer, but finding one can be totally overwhelming. Questions begin to arise:

How expensive is this going to be?
Will they deliver what I need on time?
Will my investment be worth it?
What if I don’t like the design?

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level and invest in your image, hiring a professional designer is a must. Good design sends a message to your target customer: I take my business seriously and you can expect a quality product from me.


Investing in your brand’s image is one of the best ways to increase your credibility. 


If a designer is able to answer the following questions and there appears to be no red flags, you are taking a big step in the right direction for your business. 

 
 

1. Can I see your portfolio?

Most professional designers have some kind of online presence to show their work whether it be their own website, a third party portfolio site (like Behance), or social media pages. Some designers prefer to send a PDF file of their work. Either way, seeing a portfolio gives you an idea of their level of experience and style.

RED FLAG:

“I’m still working on my portfolio. It’s not really ready to show yet.”

Designers are always working on their portfolios. It’s a never ending process. This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but it is a red flag. A follow-up question could be “Can I see some examples of work you’ve done in the past?” If their portfolio isn’t complete, they should at least be able to send you some examples of their work. If they don’t have anything to show you, run away. It could be they aren’t proud of their work or it could be a sign that they’re unmotivated to win you over as a client.

2. How would you describe your design style?

Every designer has a style they lean towards: feminine, masculine, clean, corporate, modern, edgy, traditional, etc. Maybe the designer doesn’t have experience designing for your specific industry, but they have a similar look and feel to what you’re going for. Though every designer has an aesthetic they prefer, good designers are able to set aside their personal preference for the sake of their client. If their style isn’t quite what you’re looking for, ask if they would feel comfortable designing in a different style.

RED FLAG:

“I specialize in this one style.”

Unless that style just so happens to be your style too (and if it is, great!), this is a red flag.

3. Can you send me a quote?

Before beginning any project, you should receive a quote that outlines the following: total cost for the project, an itemized breakdown, how many rounds of revisions are included, delivery dates, and what the fees are if the project requires additional work beyond what’s quoted.

RED FLAGS:

The designer begins the project before a quote and/or contract is provided.

Without a quote you risk an unhappy surprise when the invoice is issued. Make sure your terms are agreed upon up front.

The designer is charging you little to nothing.

At first, that might seem awesome. But low prices usually mean low quality and little motivation to get your project done on time.

4. Do you price per hour or per project?

You might find this answer in the quote. If the designer is charging hourly, you run the risk of the project taking longer than expected and being charged for it. Ask the designer to let you know if the project is taking longer than anticipated before charging you beyond the quoted price.

5. Can you write up a contract?

Working with a contract protects both you & the designer. You are both fully aware of what services are being provided, the timeline, and the consequences if something isn’t what you agreed upon. While a quote could be as simple as costs and deadlines outlined in an email, a contract goes much further in depth on the legal terms of your agreement. For large projects like a brand design or a website, you should be working with a contract. No exceptions. Yes, that includes friends and family members...especially friends and family members! For smaller projects like a business card or flyer design, a contract isn’t always necessary as long as a quote is agreed upon.

6. Can we meet to discuss my project?

A meeting (whether in person, over the phone, or through video chat) gives the designer a better sense of who you are and what you’re looking for.

RED FLAGS:

The designer is unwilling to meet with you.

This indicates that they might be too busy for your project and don’t see getting your business as a priority.

It takes longer than 2 days to hear back from them.

A response within 24 hours is preferred, but a grace period of 2 days is still acceptable. Any longer than that is a sure sign that they aren’t motivated to win your business and might be too busy to for your project.


If everything checks out, you can trust your designer. Trust that they’re a professional at helping you visually connect with your target market. Trust that professionals take critique well, charge fairly, and will communicate with you throughout the design process.

Are you ready to hire a graphic designer and take your business to the next level? Maybe we’d be a good fit! Request a quote & let’s chat!