Sage advice for working with designers or photographers.
At some point every small business that has its eyes set on growth, will contract a creative ‘genius’ to make their visual presence look more professional and eye-catching.
It’s kind of like going to a hairdresser in that for some reason you feel pressured to be ‘cool’, which often means you smile, giggle and end up agreeing to some pretty interesting, unnecessary and expensive enhancements. In the hairdresser world that would be a dark red and blonde balayage dye job. In creative job terms that would be $500 worth of store photos which you never could, nor would use in any way whatsoever.
A lot of my errors have had nothing to do with the contracted creative mind, rather with my inability to express what I want, how I want it and the top level of a budget to get it.
So I thought it might be useful for someone out there if I outlined a few tips for hiring a photographer or designer to get a job done.
- Set a realistic budget and know stuff ain’t cheap
For a skilled professional photographer or a graphic designer you are often looking at $100 – $150 per hour. What is going to surprise you is that something that you perceive to be easy like ‘change that font’ or ‘replace the background’ can take a designer an hour or two to actually do. So make sure that whomever you contract knows your final budget. I have now started treating contract design projects like mobile data and ask them to give me a head’s up when I’ve passed a certain halfway budget point so I know to tread carefully with change requests.
Also beware, creative contractors kind of work like lawyers and you will be charged for EVERYTHING. So be careful about taking up offers to organise print jobs or drop proofs off, as you will see this in your bill, which may or may not result in a tear forming in the corner of your eye. If you can do something yourself, just do it yourself and spend your dollars on the skills you lack.
- Be lengthy with your brief
Trust me on this one, I’ve merrily jabbered away at people without managing to clearly put into words (preferably written ones) what I want, when I want it, and the uses I want it for. Take the time to set your brief in stone. For example, if you want hi-res images for print, but you’ve only asked for web banners then you need to tell them this at the start.
- Apples aren’t oranges
Take some time to find someone who has done work similar to yours. For example, in my newbie days I paid a photographer to come up with concepts for product images for my webpage. She was a cool chick, but really wasn’t the right fit for me. Her interest was mainly in creative fashion and my interest was mainly in selling candy online. I ended up paying for a number of background concepts which worked really well if my goal was to camouflage what I was selling. In the end I’ve never used any of them. But learnt a lesson on finding someone who has the skills to fit my task.
- Copy and paste your desires
Don’t just tell them you want something ‘vibrant’ ‘that wows’ try showing them. Get your fingers flicking through Pinterest and send them a mood board of what you like and tell them why you like it. You will have been quoted for a set number of small changes to whatever concept you’re given, so the clearer you can be (without drying their creative juices up) the less likely it will be that you’ll end up paying for extra changes.
Pretty much the stuff that I’ve hired creative minds to do has been well worth the dosh. I’d say any small business needs to get their signage, logo, images and posters done by a professional as often as possible as it makes a business stand out and look proud to exist. But before you watch your precious dollars fly out the window, take note of my advice as it’s coming from someone that has previously metaphorically thrown wads of cash into the creative rabbit hole.