What to Know When Hiring Freelance Graphic Designers

Thinking of hiring a freelance graphic designer? Here’s everything you need to know about it, from how to pick the right one to how much you can expect to pay for their work!

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September 6, 2023

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Over 90% of designers in the US have freelance careers. So, there’s no shortage of quality candidates. But how to find freelance graphic designers that are just right for your business? How much do freelance graphic designers charge? How to vet prospective candidates and assure the quality of freelance work? Find all the answers here.

According to Deloitte’s 2022 outsourcing survey, most businesses outsource to:

  • cut costs (57%);
  • implement new business strategies (51%);
  • get access to specific skills (49%);
  • reallocate CAPEX spending to OPEX (45%).

So, most businesses see outsourcing as a way to cut day-to-day costs and invest in growth opportunities. Since graphic design is part of virtually every business, this is definitely one of the areas where outsourcing makes a lot of sense.

But how to find freelance graphic designers that are just the right fit for your business? Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to hire freelance graphic designers effectively.

Where to find freelance graphic designers?

How to get freelance graphic design that’s right for your business? Let’s start with the most obvious question: where can you find freelance graphic designers? Here’s a list of the best places for freelance graphic design.

  • Upwork: Possibly the most popular freelance marketplace, Upwork caters to graphic designers of all levels. The average hourly rate is about $25.
  • Fiverr: Fiverr’s greatest draw is the opportunity to hire designers for smaller, cheaper projects. Average freelance graphic design hourly rates are similar to Upwork, around $27.
  • Freelancer: Another huge freelancing platform, where you can find a range of freelance designers, from beginners to vetted professionals. One of its many perks is a refined search feature that allows you to search for talents in your geographical area, price range, and with specific skills.
  • Behance: This portfolio platform allows you to contact  freelance graphic designers directly or post a freelance graphic design job.
  • Dribbble: Similar to Behance, Dribbble is a portfolio platform with “snapshots” of projects. It’s an ideal platform to search for logo designers or motion graphics designers, thanks to a number of helpful filters.
  • Toptal: Toptal has a slightly more rigorous vetting process, so the hourly rates for freelance graphic design are a bit higher, around $50 per hour.
  • 99 Designs: Although you can hire a freelance designer from their community, 99 Designs is best known for its design contests. This means you can post a project and get solutions from dozens of designers bidding for the gig. If you like something, you can purchase the design or get your money back if there’s nothing that suits you.
  • Design Hill: It’s one of the largest creative marketplaces, with different services, such as hiring freelancers, starting a design contest, buying an existing design gig, or purchasing ready-made designs.
  • Design Crowd: Like 99 Designs, this crowdsourcing platform allows you to get heaps of ideas and design solutions for a specific project. It’s risk-free, meaning you get your money back if you don’t like any of the designs.

How to hire a freelance graphic designer in 7 steps

If you’re wondering how to hire a freelance graphic designer, we’ve broken it down into seven simple steps.


Of course, you can avoid unexpected costs by agreeing to pay per-project basis. However, if you need several designs every week, it usually doesn’t work out much cheaper than hiring a full-time designer.

An hourly rate of $35 is fantastic until you figure out how long a graphic design project takes. With an average of 4-8 hours for a project, you’re looking at paying hundreds of dollars for every single piece of design. And as you probably know, most businesses need graphic design daily.

1. Define your design needs

To find the right person to fit the job, you must define what graphic design services you need. There are numerous types of graphic design, and a designer is often specialized in only a few.

Let’s have a look at some of the most common graphic design services:

  • Logo and branding design
  • Advertisement design
  • Social media graphics
  • Website design
  • Print collateral (flyers, brochures, business cards, etc.)
  • Graphic illustrations
  • Infographics

This is by no means an exhaustive list since graphic design is vast and ever-evolving. Make sure you research and paint a clear picture of what you want designed.

2.  Set a budget

Once you know what you need, it’s time to set a budget. Think about how much you can realistically afford to spend on freelance graphic design.

The cost of design is a big topic since pricing can range from $15 to $150 per hour. Once you specify what you need, the ballpark should narrow down a bit. But there are still multiple factors at play, such as the years of experience and location of your designer.

Remember that bad design can cost you more in the long term. Bad design could mean losing customers, and fixing things can be time-consuming.

3.  Find freelancers

With your design needs and budget specified, it’s time to look for your perfect match. You can opt for one of the many freelance platforms to find a graphic designer online. However, this option is time-consuming and somewhat risky (many beginners and unprofessional designers also have their profiles on these platforms).  

A better option is finding someone through word-of-mouth. Ask around because it’s always a good idea to work with someone with a good reputation.

Additionally, Google searches can help you out. If a designer has a beautiful website that also pops up high in the search results, you have to give them credit. A simple search could also be “graphic designer near me + the specific type of graphic design” you need.  

4. Vet their work

Vetting your designer’s work is a crucial step in finding high-quality design. We’ve briefly mentioned how recommendations can help you [vet a designer](), but there are a few other ways.

First, it’s wise to brush up on your design knowledge. Knowing a thing or two about good design is a skill that will come in handy more than once.

The most important part of the vetting process is assessing their portfolio. Here are a few parameters that you need to consider in a design portfolio:

  • Overall look and feel: Pay attention to colors, typography, shapes, and layout. You'll notice that designers often stick to a particular style. A consistent-looking portfolio is a sign of professionalism  since it shows the designer took time to curate their work. On the other hand, newbie designers often include every project they've ever done and their digital portfolios look a bit "all over the place" with designs that aren't polished.
  • Simplicity: Creating a simple visual solution to a specific problem is the make of a genuinely skilled designer. If they can deliver maximum results with minimal elements, they can take on almost any design challenge.
  • Relevancy: A portfolio should be relevant regarding the type of design you need (experience) and adherence to relevant design trends. Of course, not every business is a trendsetter in their industry, but design should never look dated. A portfolio that looks like it hasn’t been updated for several years is a red flag.
  • Originality: As with any other creative task, it's doubtful that anything is 100% new. However, you can do a few things to ensure a designer’s work is entirely their own. First, ask the designer to explain their design process and choices.  A reverse image search on Google is also useful. Check the files for existing metadata: images taken from another place on the internet might also contain EXIF (Exchangeable Image File) data encoded into them.

5. Establish a management style

This step is often overlooked because many people forget that when they hire a freelancer, they need to manage them. There is more to it than sending your design brief and hoping for the best.

Think about the basics, like who in your company will be in charge of managing the freelancers. How much time should they spend on it? When and where should they check in with the freelancer?

Also, think about laying the groundwork. Set up a template for the design briefings you’ll send, and ensure your brand guidelines are in order.

6. Hire a freelancer

Once you have your freelancer lined up, established a management style, and know precisely what you need, it’s go time. Next up is the hire!

Your graphic design freelancer will be a part of your business, even if you only hire them for a single project. Therefore, it’s wise to consider setting up a contract and possibly a non-disclosure agreement.

7. Evaluate

If you thought that was the hard part, think again. There is no time to kick back and relax just yet. Evaluating your freelancer’s work and staying involved throughout the process go hand-in-hand with high-quality results.

Setting up a quality assurance process for your freelance graphic designers is highly recommended. An example is a checklist with topics you can use to evaluate the design. Here are a few examples:

  • Has the designer used your branding guidelines?
  • Did the designer stick to the design brief?
  • Are there any spelling errors in the design?

How to assure a freelance designer delivers quality work?

As we’ve already mentioned, finding freelance graphic artists isn’t easy. So, after you’ve spent so much time vetting and hiring a designer, you want the best results. Let’s review some simple steps to ensure you get your money’s worth with freelance graphic design.  

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Write a detailed design brief

If we said it once, we've said it a million times. A well-written brief is half the job done in graphic design!

In our experience, poorly created design briefs fall into two extremes: too little or too much information. While a designer probably does "know better" than you, you cannot expect them to read your mind. They might have the skill and talent to create a high-quality piece of design. However, it could still miss the mark without background information and be unusable for your industry and purpose. Here are some of the critical elements every design brief should include:

  • Type or project
  • Purpose of the project
  • Placement of the project
  • Brand guidelines
  • References
  • Timeframe and deliverables

On the other hand, if you get too specific about your ideas (e.g., layout, fonts, shapes), you could miss out on an opportunity to get something much more effective.

Check the design against your brief

So, you've submitted your brief, and a few days later, your freelance designer submits the first draft. Don't ignore your initial reaction. If you immediately hate it, your audience will likely react similarly.

However, this doesn't necessarily mean that the designer is at fault. Go back to your brief and check whether you have made requests that led to this result.

We deal with this situation often. And truthfully, it's a ubiquitous part of the design process. Sometimes you need to see something to see it doesn't work.

Set up KPIs

The key difference between art and design is that design always fulfills a specific purpose. So, to know whether you’ve received high-quality work, you’ll also need to know what purpose a design is supposed to serve, and how to measure the impact of design.

This isn't something you can measure or determine overnight in most cases. But you should still have those key performance indicators to help you check the quality of the design.

Let's say the freelance graphic designer's job was to create a landing page for a new campaign. In this case, the most relevant KPI might be the number of clicks on your call to action button. You've done the SEO and marketing work and got people on the page, but they aren't making that final action. Then, there might be an issue with the design. Either the button isn't visible enough, or the page's overall structure doesn't work to guide users to the CTA.

Don't believe me? Take a look at this often-quoted experiment from Hubspot. A simple change in the color of a CTA button led to a 21% increase in conversions!

How much do freelance graphic designers charge?

One of the main reasons why many businesses outsource graphic design work is to cut costs. But how much do freelance graphic designers charge, and does working with one necessarily mean you get to save up?

It’s a bit of a difficult question to answer.

For starters, freelance graphic designers have vastly different per-hour pricing. According to Upwork, the average rate is $25. On the other hand, data from Designers Union suggests an average of $40 for junior, and $100 for more senior designers. So, generally, clients pay anywhere between $25 to $150 for a freelance designer’s hourly rate.

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The location of the designer is another factor that impacts their hourly rate. Designers in Eastern Europe and some parts of Asia charge a fraction of what freelance graphic designers charge in Western Europe and the US.

Moreover, the complexity and duration of the project also determine the final price you pay for freelance graphic design.

The final section will also present an alternative money-saving graphic design service.

Why work with freelance graphic designers?

There’s no doubt that getting graphic design freelance is extremely popular with businesses of all sizes and industries. But why is that? Here are some of the main perks of hiring freelance graphic designers.

Access to specific skills

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This is the most significant advantage of opting for graphic design freelance services. Instead of expecting one in-house designer to improvise on projects requiring specific skills, you can always hire the best person for the job.

In addition to a better quality of work, it’s likely you’ll get the final result quicker, saving yourself and your team a lot of time.


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Every business nowadays needs graphic design. But not everyone needs graphics regularly.

Opting for freelance graphic designers allows you to pay for design services only when needed and pause your collaboration in slower periods.

Depending on which freelancing platform you use, the administrative costs can also be minimal. Although some platforms charge pretty hefty commissions.

The downsides of hiring freelance designers

There are many perks to hiring freelancers, but not everything is always 100% ideal. Here are a few downsides of getting graphic design freelance.

It can become expensive

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An hourly rate of $35 is fantastic until you figure out how long a graphic design project takes. With an average of 4-8 hours for a project, you’re looking at paying hundreds of dollars for every single piece of design. And as you probably know, most businesses need graphic design daily. 

Of course, you can avoid unexpected costs by agreeing to project-based pricing. However, if you need several designs every week, it usually doesn’t work out much cheaper than hiring a full-time designer. 


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On one hand, the flexibility of paying for freelance graphic design is awesome. But what happens if you find the perfect freelance designer, only to find they’re not available when you next need them. They’re always on the lookout for new potential clients, so if it’s a particularly busy time, they might not have your project as a priority.

Moreover, although most freelancing platforms have a vetting system, it’s usually up to you to establish a quality control system to ensure you’re paying for quality work.

An alternative to freelance graphic designers

Awesome! Now you know how to get freelance graphic design that suits your business’s needs. But what if there’s an even better alternative?

Unlimited graphic design services (such as ManyPixels) are the best design outsourcing solution for virtually any business - from solopreneurs to large corporations. How come?

Unlimited design combines the flexibility and affordability of freelance designers with the reliability and professionalism of a traditional design agency. These services allow you to make unlimited design requests while paying a flat monthly fee. For the price of a couple of projects with freelance graphic design, you can get dozens of high-quality designs: logos, social media graphics, landing pages, ads, and more.

With a team of skilled designers at your fingertips, each design request is assigned to a professional with the most fitting skills and experience.

And the best part? It’s risk-free! You can pause or cancel the subscription anytime without additional charges or repercussions. And you can even try the service for 14 days with our money-back guarantee!

Ready to give it a go? Check out the pricing page for the available subscription plans. Or book a free 1:1 consultation for an opportunity to ask us any questions and see if ManyPixels is the right design solution for you!

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.

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