How to Find a Freelance Illustrator
Learn tips and tricks to easily find and hire a freelance illustrator for your business, from searching, through the interview process, to negotiating the rates.
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Finding the perfect freelancer is a bit like finding your soulmate: they understand and complete you (i.e. do everything you can’t do yourself). And much like “the one”, when it comes to sealing the deal with a freelancer you need to know where to look and what you want.
This is not an easy task. The freelancing market is growing each year, and illustrators are no exception. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 250,000 freelance illustrators in the U.S. alone, and around 25% of them are self-employed.
Given these circumstances, you wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that hiring a freelance illustrator can seem scary. There are so many different platforms to choose from and even more so freelancers. So, how does one go about hiring an artist? Fret not, as we’ll be covering the essentials of how to find an illustrator in today’s guide.
Be Precise in Your Search
Before you start looking for a freelance artist for hire, you need to know precisely what you’re looking for. If it’s a simple project, you might want to go for a basic graphic designer. If you need the entire website rebuilt, you’re probably best looking for a front-end developer. Before you go out looking for freelance artists for hire, distinguishing between each job role is a must.
- Graphic Designer: This is usually a person who works in photoshop or illustrator, and can create attractive visuals such as logos and illustrations.
- Animation Artist: As the name implies, this is an artist who can create animations for any of your business needs.
- Art Director: An art director is a person who oversees the entire visual production and makes sure every detail, such as font type, size, and coloring are on point.
- Front-end Developer: This is a professional who uses coding languages like HTML or CSS to implement the graphic visuals onto the website.
Now that we’ve covered the different types of job roles and their responsibilities, let’s move on to the actual job ads. To get the right applicants in, you must be as specific as possible in the job description.
The interview can be the make or break moment. And this goes both ways, for the interviewer and the interviewee alike. For starters, let’s assume the person holding the interview is either the business owner or an HR/recruiter. You’ll want to use this as a chance to get to know the person better and get a deeper insight into their work.
Finding the Freelance Illustrator
Once you’ve narrowed down your exact needs, the next step is to put out the job ad in all of the relevant places. While you might intuitively think that platforms like Upwork or Fiverr might be your only options, they’re not. When searching for a freelance illustrator, the internet is your oyster. Try searching for alternative websites such as forums, job boards, and even a personal favorite of mine — the forhire subreddit.
Another awesome alternative is unlimited graphic design service, like ManyPixels. The problem with freelancers is that they are not always 100% reliable. With platforms like Upwork or Fiverr you can rest assured you won’t have to pay for any work that hasn’t been done. However, all it takes is a family emergency, and you’re left high and dry on design.
Of course, we’re not saying you shouldn't be understanding, or even that freelancers don’t deliver results—they are actually very efficient. However, if you’re looking to streamline your design process, a reliable team of graphic designers can really help! (We’ve got over 30 of freelance designers and if one can’t deliver, there’s always someone to step in.) The best part is that the designer will do as many revisions as necessary until you’re 100% satisfied with the end result!
Picking The Right Freelance Illustrator For Hire
Business owners often fret the process of hiring freelancers. It can be time-consuming, cost a lot to submit job postings, and the risk of the hire not working out is there too – all of these can be translated to dollars potentially lost.
But all this can be avoided by keeping a sharp eye on several factors:
- Portfolio: Let the work speak for itself. Designers will often make outlandish claims about their skills, but there’s only one way to be sure whether that’s true. By looking at a designer’s portfolio, you can be sure if they can walk the walk.
- Reputation: Reputation is everything when hiring online. If you see the freelancer has solely positive reviews, it means that the services they provided in the past were of good quality. People may lie, but ratings don’t.
- Presentation: First impressions matter in real life, and it’s no different on the internet. If the freelance illustrator doesn’t have the dedication and attention to detail to create a fully polished freelance profile, they probably won’t have these traits when working on your project.
- Personality: While this trait may not be as crucial in graphic designers, the freelancer must fit well within your team. Think of what type of character you’re looking for and how important this is for your project. For example, bad English can be overlooked if they are amazing at designing.
If you feel that your freelancer checks out 3 of 4 traits, you can proceed to take the recruitment process to the next step.
A prevalent mistake that I’ve seen is not treating the interviewing process with the respect it deserves. Who cares where they see themselves in 10 years, or what their dream job is? Chances are, it’s not the one they’re being interviewed for right now. And there’s absolutely no shame in that.
By asking these generic questions, you will not be able to evaluate whether you should hire them or not. In fact, you may dissuade them from accepting a job offer from you. I cannot stress this enough - use your limited interviewing time wisely.
Ask industry-related questions such as “Who’s your favorite designer, and why?” ”What was the most complicated task you had to do, and how did you overcome it?” Or a personal favorite of mine, “What does your design process usually look like?”
Keep the interview light and conversational, don’t make it feel like a business meeting. Since your end goal is assessing a candidate’s actual skills, this is only possible if they’re comfortable talking to you.
Let me put this plain and simple. As a candidate, it is on you to convince the person on the other side to give you a job. So, leave a first good impression, do your research, and have a two-way conversation.
- First impression - Chances are you’re the 10th person that HR interviewed that day. So it’s of utmost importance to leave a good first impression. Be courteous, listen carefully, and remember that a good interview is always a two-way street.
- Do your research - Doing your homework on the company and the interviewer before you come in for a conversation can significantly boost your chances of getting hired.
- Check what sort of projects the company’s been working on recently and think about how you can add value to them.
- Find and scan your interviewer’s LinkedIn and other social media profiles. Scan them for useful information. I once had a 20-minute interview turn into a 50-minute discussion about work, life, football, and other similar passions we shared. Needless to say, I got the job in the end.
- Conversation - If you’re doing all the talking, take a step back and let the interviewer talk. Your goal is to have a dialogue, not a monologue.
So, the person passed the interview(s), and you’re seriously considering hiring them. An efficient way to make a hiring decision is by sending them a final task. Whether that’s designing a logo, brochure, or pamphlet – give them the work parameters and let them explore their creativity.
Once they’ve submitted the task, either you’ll be blown away or underwhelmed. If it’s the former, now would be the time to send them a job offer.
If, however, you’re left feeling underwhelmed - don’t view this as something negative. Think of it as a learning experience (both for you and the freelancer) and a filtering process. You now know how to get to the finish line with the exact type of freelance artist you’re looking to hire.
A mistake business owners make is after a failed hire is they get discouraged. They then go on to hire the next person they deem at least somewhat capable. After a while, there is a noticeable discrepancy between the freelance illustrator and the company. And this will inevitably end in them leaving the company, one way or the other.
So at this point, you have to go through the entire recruitment process again. This will cost you lots of time, and more importantly, money. The thing about hiring costs is that they’re a lot bigger than just an employee’s salary. Sourcing, training, and paying for all of the necessary resources for their jobs are all things you need to take into account.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!” My advice is to stick to this mantra religiously when it comes to your recruitment process.
Now that we’re at the finish line, you should have a better understanding of the best practices for finding a freelance illustrator. Hiring freelancers is a relatively new thing for a lot of business owners.
Mistakes are an integral part of diving into any new business venture—and freelancing is no different. Business owners often look for artists in all the wrong places and aren’t detailed enough in their job ads. This leads to a situation where both sides end up losing. Companies don’t find the right freelancers, and designers don’t apply for the right jobs.
A lot of company owners fret having to hire employees online, but you don’t have to be one of them. By just following the tips that we mentioned in this article, you will have a competitive advantage when hiring freelance illustrators.
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