Graphic Design Outsourcing: How To Do It Right

By Daniel Offer

If you’re an internet entrepreneur, webmaster or software developer then outsourcing graphic design is something that you should know about.

Not everyone is a Photoshop expert, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get affordable original professional art work for your business. For example, you may wish to have icons developed for your software, a poster designed or a professional looking banner for your website. An Adobe Photoshop license may be prohibitively expensive, and learning how to produce quality graphics yourself is a long term commitment.  Additionally, by outsourcing, you avoid the need to hire a long term employee. In short, outsourcing graphics is a time and cost effective solution to obtaining professional original graphics.

Graphic Outsourcing – What You Want

Prior to outsourcing your graphic design work, it is advisable to writing a clear specification so that the graphic designer has an idea of the deliverables that you wish to obtain. The more descriptive that you can be, the better the chance that you will be more than satisfied with what the graphic designer creates for you.

Aspects to Consider

  1. Objective – Outline the purpose of the graphics that you wish to have outsourced. Where will it go? What it will be used for?
  2. Broad or Specific Description – For example; broad- I want a logo for my website SitePoint. Specific, I am seeking to obtain a digital cartoon of my picture in the style of the Simpsons cartoons.
  3. Example graphics – If you can find a couple of graphics in the style that you wish the artist to design in that is advisable.
  4. Vector or Bitmap – Simply put, vector graphics can be resized to any size with no loss in quality, they tend to be however, more expensive. Bitmap graphics will lose quality when they are resized.
  5. File Size – If your graphics are intended to be used on a website you may wish to restrict the file size.
  6. File Dimensions – What size (pixels, cm or inches) do you need the graphics?
  7. Deliverable Formats – Do you require the graphics provided in PNG, PSD, JPEG, BMP, GIF or another format? If you have requested vector graphics it may be advisable to request the AI file (Adobe Illustrator file).
  8. Fonts – If the graphics that you wish to have outsourced include text, then it’s recommended that you ask for the fonts used so the text can be easily edited at a later date.

Graphic Design Outsourcing – Where To Get It From

You essentially have two options when deciding where to get your graphics designed from.

  1. Direct – Contact graphic designers directly and ask for a quote.
  2. Indirect – Use an online outsourcing market place such as RentACoder or Elance to obtain quotes.

Outsourcing graphic design directly

You can outsource to a graphic designer or design firm that you like by searching the internet or using local directories. However, this can be time consuming and may require a lot of background research.

I would always recommend obtaining at least three quotes to ensure that the price you are paying is around about the market price – or less. Often when purchasing directly, there is some room for negotiation.

There are a number of disadvantages when purchasing directly from a graphic designer – firstly, often graphic design firms may ask for an upfront payment and they may only accept a limited amount of payment methods. Payment methods such as PayPal and escrow offer security to both the buyer and seller. However, once a WIRE payment or Western Union transfer is made, it’s often difficult to get money back if you run into difficulty with your selection. Prior to transferring money, it’s probably worth your while searching Google to see what past clients’ have written about them.

Outsourcing graphic design indirectly

An outsourcing market place such as Elance or RentACoder will enable you to get many graphic designers to “bid” (place quotes) on your project in a fairly short space of time. This is much easier than surfing the internet to find designers that you like. They also tend to accept more payment methods than a particular artist or design firm.

Designers build up a history on these website and you are able to see the feedback from their past cliental. This makes it easier to select a designer who won’t mess you about.

Moreover, these market places enable you to more easily outsource to less developed countries such as India, Russia, China, Ukraine and Vietnam. Outsourcing to a less developed country will tend to offer you better value for money. You should be able to obtain at least a 50% discount in comparison to having the same work created in Western Countries.

Graphic designers bids provided on market places will provide a link to their portfolio for you to review the previous quality of their work. Remember, that past quality of work is an indication of the stand that you could expect to obtain from a particular designer.

Online outsourcing market places such as RentACoder will often provide free arbitration services and escrow, so when things go wrong and it’s not your fault, you’re protected and you can get your money back.

Graphic Design Outsourcing – Selecting a Designer

There are many things to consider when selecting a designer to outsource to:

  • Pay for time or per project?  – There are two main ways to pay for graphic design – one is for the designer’s time “per hour”, and the other is for the project’s fulfillment “per project”. I personally prefer to pay per project, simply because it’s immaterial to me how long the designer spent on it. If an excellent logo for my project took him 1 hour rather 32 hours, as far as I’m concerned it’s a good job and the quality is what I’m paying for.  What I do want, however, is to know how much it’s going to cost before I start working with that artist.
  • Cost – Is the price within your budget? If not, consider negotiating. Remember, that price, isn’t necessarily an indication of quality – often it’s a reflection of their domestic earning potential and currency exchange rates.
  • Profile – Is the quality, standard and style of their art work what you’re looking for?
  • Feedback – If you’re using an online market place then you may wish to consider feedback other users have provided. Alternatively, if seeking to buy directly, Google the design firm to see what other people have written about them.
  • Deadline – Provide a deadline; otherwise the project will run on indefinitely with no end date in sight. Speaking generally, the higher tighter the deadline the higher the cost.  However, if you make the deadline too extensive designers will leave your work till the last minute. Estimate a reasonable time if possible. I would recommend that you have some flexibility, often you’ll find work will overrun.  A deadline on a market place site will let you walk away with no further obligation. Make the deadline reasonable.
  • Copyright – You should always ensure that the copyright and all rights to use the graphics are signed over to you, upon receipt of payment. Market Places tend to have a pre-existing contract to this effect. You need to mention this when outsourcing directly. Whilst working with less developed countries is often cheaper you may find that your copyright is less well protected.
  • Specification Is Part Of The Contract – Remember that the specification is part of the contract, between you and the designer. Anything else they are under no obligation to provide.
  • Revisions – If you’re not happy, say so. Many graphic designers will offer unlimited revisions until your happy.

What do you think?

I have a virtual assistant that types up some of my longer blog posts (I use a voice recorder and send here the MP3 file) and then sends the article back to me in HTML. It’s a great way to save time, so I can focus on other high-value activities.

If you could outsource one part of your business right now, what would it be?