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How To Hire a Freelance Copywriter or Graphic Designer

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Your particular project doesn't warrant a permanent, full-time copywriter or graphic designer. You just need some help temporarily. Choosing the right person for your project is a must for getting the materials you need, the expertise required for the job and making your ad campaign a success.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Hiring a freelancer for your specific needs requires several hours for research and interviewing.

Here's How:

  1. Make a Plan
    What are you looking for in a freelancer? Before you begin your search, make a list of the materials you need written and/or designed and the type of person you want to work with you. Are you willing to work with someone with limited experience? Do you really need the materials within a matter of days? How much are you willing to pay? Do you want to work with someone who charges by the project or by the hour? Knowing these answers first will make your search much easier.

  2. Do Your Research
    There are plenty of freelance copywriters and graphic designers out there and some may have already approached you. Whether you're searching on the Internet, going off someone's recommendation or looking yourself in your city, research the copywriter or designer to see if they meet with the plan you've outlined in step 1. This will help you cross some freelancers off the list that aren't in line with your specific needs and wants.

  3. Know Your Boundaries
    You don't have to be bound to a freelancer in your immediate area but it comes down to your personal decision. Thanks to telephones, fax and Email, you can work with a freelancer 2,000 miles away. However, if you want a freelancer who lives in your area, you'll be limiting the number of freelancers available to you but you may gain access to someone you can meet in person if that's the way you prefer to work.

  4. Check the Credentials
    Don't just hire a freelancer because he offers a lower rate than the others. Check credentials and see what he's worked on. If his experience doesn't show any brochure work and that's what you need, evaluate whether you're willing to risk that he may not be able to give you exactly what you want since his experience is limited in that field.

  5. Evalute Experience Levels
    Freelancers with a limited background usually cost less but the trade-off is you might be working with someone new to the business. That shouldn't scare you off completely. Just be sure they can handle the project you need. If you have a small project, this would be a good time to evaluate a freelancer with little experience. If you need someone to create multiple projects in a short amount of time, go ahead and pay extra for a freelancer with more experience.

  6. Ask for Writing Samples
    Reputable freelancers should be able to submit a portfolio to you through Email, giving you a Web site link or even via fax. Look at the writing or design the freelancer has done for other clients. Does it match up with the style and personality you're looking for in a freelancer?

  7. Give a Writing or Design Test
    Freelancers with a packed résumé aren't going to be as receptive to a writing test as those who are just starting out. For those with a large amount of experience, you can generally make a good decision based on the writing or design samples in his portfolio. But for those with limited experience, you can give a short writing test (for copywriters) or design test (for graphic designers) to see if they will be able to create your materials to your liking.

  8. Check the Policies
    Freelancers should have a solid set of policies in place. What rates do they offer? Are rewrites or redesigns free as long as the nature of the project doesn't change? What is their turnaround time?

  9. How Do They Charge?
    By the hour or a flat rate fee? Know this before you agree to let the freelancer do the job. If the freelancer charges by the hour only, you'll need to know an estimate of how many hours it will take to complete the project. Sometimes that estimate will go over, though, so you must be comfortable with working with a freelancer who may go over the hourly estimate. If you're not, see if a flat rate project fee can be given or go with another freelancer who offers one.

  10. Put It In Writing
    Freelancers usually have their own contract they'll send once you offer them the gig. These contracts are fairly simple and state project details, the final charge and when the project is due. If they don't have a contract, you put everything in writing and send it to them to sign. Creating a simple contract will ensure you and the freelancer are on the same page before the project starts.

Tips:

  1. When checking out a freelancer's work, anything that says "SPEC AD" means the freelancer did not actually write or design the material for the company. The freelancer is just submitting a mock ad to show you how he writes or designs a project. "SPEC ADS" are common in the industry so don't automatically eliminate a freelancer from your short list just because he has submitted these types of ads as samples.

  2. When creating a writing test, give the copywriters some brief info about your company and have them create a short ad based on the info you've given. Tell them what type of ad you want them to create for the test and make sure it's short so they can give you the results back quickly and they won't have to spend a large amount of time on the test in case you don't hire them. Generally, a 24-hour turnaround time for a short test will be fine.

  3. When creating a design test, give the designers some sample photos of your product and company if you have them. Have them design a sample print ad, for example, to get a feel for their design style. If you don't have photos, they can insert any type of photos for the sample test because you're just evaluating their design skills for your needs. A 24-hour turnaround time for the short test is sufficient.

  4. If you're hiring for multiple projects at one time, ask the freelancer for a discounted rate for bulk work. Many will discount the rates for you since you're submitting multiple copywriting or design projects.

  5. Unless the freelancer has a specific background in both copywriting and graphic design, which is usually rare, hire the freelancers separately. In other words, don't hire a freelance copywriter to do both the writing and the design of the project unless he has a large amount of experience and even schooling in both areas. If you're unsure if he can handle both aspects of the project, give a writing and design test to evaluate the skills for yourself.

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