The ultimate guide to working with a designer Part 2: The design process
 The ultimate guide to working with a designer Part 2: The Design Process. Learn how the process works after you hire your graphic or web designer

The Design Process

Each designer’s process is a little different and this is something that you can discuss in what is called the onboarding phase of the design process. For most designers the overall process is the same, it’s just the smaller steps in-between or how they deliver their proposals, questionnaires, or worksheets to you that may differ. You can take a peek at the questionnaire and worksheet I use with my branding clients by visiting the freebies section of my site.

Client onboarding may look like a form on website, a DM, an email, phone call or Skype to determine if you’re good match to work together. The designer will then determine if they can handle the scope of your project.

Discovery Phase

Once the contract has been signed and a timeline agreed upon you typically move on to the first actual phase of working together, which I call the discovery phase. This is where you’ll get homework assignments from the designer that can include a questionnaire and directions on pinning inspiration images to a Pinterest board. This phase will also likely include strategy sessions, mood board presentation, and questionnaire follow-up discussion(s) to make sure on they are on the right track with your vision and everyone is on the same page.

Design Phase

After the moodboard (a designery word for inspiration board) has been approved and everyone is confident that the project is moving in the right direction your designer will actually start designing :) For me this takes the form of an old fashioned #2 pencil and my sketch book. I draw and draw and draw some more. During this phase is where there will be logo concept presentations where you will be required to offer feedback. This part of the process can look different depending on how your designer works. Some designers will deliver multiple logo choices while others do a one design method, where they present one design fully realized. This can work amazingly well when there is a lot of collaboration during the discovery phase and designer truly has a grasp on what the client wants. After the concept(s) is delivered, feedback is given, then refinements to the concept will be made. This cycle continues based on the number of refinements/revisions that the contract states is included. If you have additional items (social media graphics, cover photos, profile photos…. Banners images… etc.) that are being designed they will also be presented during this phase.

Launch Phase

Get the champagne and plan the launch party. It's time to go LIVE with your fabulous new brand identity. During this phase you’ll pay the final invoice and the designer will deliver your final files based on the terms of your contract.  Most designers also include a style/brand guide. Some may call it the brand blueprint. This can take the form of a single page or multipage document that outlines everything about your brand in one succient place. You can hand this guide over to your web designer (if it’s someone different), your virtual assistant or anyone that will be creating content using your brand to ensure that all your visuals will be consistent.

Schew…. This is A. LOT. OF. INFORMATION…. But hey, you’re spending lots of money on hiring someone to create what is going to represent you and your brand, so it’s going to pay off to be well informed! So let’s wrap up this how-to with the final piece of the pie. If you want to be a rockstar client to your designer make sure that you give quality feedback. Download my free guide: How to give quality feedback to your designer.

 How to effectively communicate with your designer during the design process and give quality feedback

So with part 1 of how to hire the right designer, plus part 2 on the design process AND the free guide to giving quality feedback, you are ready to get started on your new branding or re-branding project.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions!

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The ultimate guide to working with a designer Part 1: Hiring the right graphic designer

I don’t know about you, but working with someone that is an expert in their field is intimidating and can make me feel a little… well… not so smart. The unknown can be scary. Plus there’s that issue of: you don’t know what you don’t know, right?!?

If I don’t know what I need, how do I go about hiring a graphic designer to help me with my new logo or website? How much does it cost to design a logo? Will it be worth it? You may be worried about hiring someone who doesn’t understand your vision, or perhaps you’ve had a bad experience with a designer in the past and you’re scared to invest your hard earned dollars again. I want to help alleviate those fears!

I’m going to walk you through the process of hiring a designer and give you some tips that will help make your working relationship go more smoothly. Because I know you want a brand identity that you are proud to share, represents your business story and most importantly, attracts those dream customers! Many designers offer branding as well as web design, but some focus only on one area or the other. Either way the basic process of what to look for when hiring a graphic designer or a web designer is the same.

 The ultimate guide to working with a graphic designer part 1: hiring the right designer. 6 Steps to hiring the perfect designer for your project

6 steps to hiring the perfect graphic designer for your project

1. What deliverables do you want/need?

Do you need branding/logo, website, social media graphics, photos, supporting graphics, posters, brochures...etc.? Do you need branding strategy? Help with nailing down your mission/purpose/why?  If you are just starting your business and not exactly sure what you need, many designers will offer a package that includes some basic social media graphics in addition to their branding and logo packages. Also, don’t worry if you are working with the designer and you realize you need something else, as long as you add it to the scope of work the designer will usually be able to accomodate additions for an additional fee. If you think you’ll need continual support from a designer be sure to mention that as well because some designers may not offer retainer services, but can refer you to a designer that does.

2. Ask for referrals

Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Investigate brands you love and see who designed their logo or website and then go look at that designer’s portfolio. Want to work with someone local? Look beyond Google and search Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Search hashtags for someone in your area on Instagram, like for instance I live in Montgomery AL, so I might search #montgomerydesigner or #alabamagraphicdesign. I could also search for other nearby cities/towns. Another place to search and get referrals is in Facebook Groups. Word of caution about asking in FB groups: be very specific in your request because if you’re in a really big group you may get an overwhelming response. I’ve seen hundreds of responses to people looking for graphic designers or web designers and my guess is that you probably don’t want to weed through hundreds of suggestions.

3. What is really important to you?

You may think that it’s all about the designer, but you really need to be honest with yourself and  decide what is most important to you for this working relationship. Do you want someone who will hold your hand and give constant updates throughout the process or do you want someone to go off on their own and then deliver the goods? Are you super laid back and can’t handle people constantly hounding you for information? Or are you more structured? Are you super detail oriented or more big picture? You’ll can learn a lot about a designer just based on how they respond when you first reach out to them and the vibe of their proposal. How does this initial communication feel? Can you see yourself working with this designer?

4. Is there chemistry?

I know, I know… you’re not dating this person, but you are working on something together that is majorly important to you, so you’d better have some good chemistry. You’ll know from interacting with them if it’s there or not. I highly recommend that in the inquiry phase you have at least one phone call or video chat with them. Don’t do all the communication just via email. Do they seem excited about your project too? Or are they distracted and seem uninterested? Does their portfolio style match the style you’re looking for? If you feel like they get you and are in your head, you have chemistry and that’s going to make this working relationship go much smoother.

5. Value vs Price?

Hiring a designer is definitely an investment. And many people understandably don’t feel that they can afford it in the beginning of their business. However, I will tell you that you can. If you are CLEAR on the foundation and the why of your brand then you are ready to invest in a designer to really bring your story to life. Because ultimately they are creating the consistency across your business with the branding that is going to help you bring in more customers. Now, I’m not saying that as soon as you plop that new logo on your site or front door that customers are going to flock on day one, but I am saying that by presenting a professional and consistent presence you will build trust among potential customers which will help to nudge them from being potential to actual customers.

You shouldn’t judge a designer based just on price alone. What they offer in value of their services can easily be worth the higher price point. Different designers offer different deliverables, some that aren’t even tangible. Some blend business strategy with visual identities which can give you a more complete and well rounded brand identity. For instance, I work a lot with new businesses and I love to help them launch their new venture, as well as giving them some social media strategy guidance along with the designs I provide. It’s these un-written bits of communication and education that add value to what you are getting. Make sure you truly understand what each designer is giving you, what deliverables are you getting in the end? Just a logo? A logo and submark and colors and typography? I love to give potential new clients the contact info of some of my recent clients so that they can ask what it’s like to work with me. I find it really helps the potential client understand the value that I offer, beyond just my price tag. Don’t be afraid to ask a designer if you can talk to past clients. If they say no right off the bat, that might be a red flag that you aren’t a good match.

6. Go with your gut

Are you a good match? What is your gut telling you? Remember, both you and the designer will be trying to determine if you are a good fit during the initial emails and phone calls. This is why I HIGHLY recommend doing phone calls or even skype/facetime. You can learn so much more about a person when you can interact with them and see them vs just relying on emails.

Go with your gut. Do you get the sense that the designer “gets” you and can deliver what you want? 99.9999% of the time your gut is right.

What happens if you go through this process and the designer decides that your project isn’t a good fit for them? If they don’t provide recommendations of other designers right away, ask them to recommend another designer that they think might be a good fit for your project.

 6 steps to hiring the perfect graphic designer for your project

To Recap, or if you just skipped to the bottom, here are the 6 Steps to hiring the perfect graphic designer for your project:

  1. Know what you want/need

  2. Ask for referrals

  3. Identify what working style is really important to you

  4. Is there chemistry?

  5. Value doesn’t always equal price

  6. Go with your gut

Next in part 2 of The Ultimate Guide to Working with a Designer I'll discuss the design process. You'll learn the typical process of what it's like working with a designer on your logo or branding project.

come hang with me on Instagram, there is plenty of inspiration, tips + cute baby & pup pics

5 Ways to use Instagram Stories for your business + BONUS video

I don’t know about you, but I find that Instagram stories is a super fun place to not have to worry about the overall aesthetic of my Instagram feed. Although if you were to go take a look at my profile, you’d notice that I’m not really a stickler for the uber curated Instagram feed. Yes I like my feed to look pretty, but I do NOT obsess over it and you’ll certainly see my fair share of selfies, puppy and baby pics mixed in with some business stuff as well. That’s just who I am, so I’m embracing the imperfectness of it ☺ I encourage you to do the same. Don’t be overwhelmed and certainly don’t let that overwhelm prevent you from taking action. Just post away and if you want to create a more consistent and aesthetically cohesive look to your feed as you go, you can certainly do that.

 5 ways to use Instagram stories for your business + bonus video on how to make cover photos for Instagram stories highlights

INSTAGRAM STORIES

Now, let’s talk Instagram Stories. I’ve had several recent clients ask me how they can use Stories for their business accounts so I came up with 5 ways to use Stories for your business. Plus I have a bonus video that shows you how to create a fun cover photo for your Stories Highlights on your Instagram profile.

  1. Behind the Scenes/Sneak Peaks - everyone love to peek behind the curtain. Don’t you remember the wizard of Oz?!? Some things that you could share are: you making whatever it is you make, upcoming projects, some of your finished client work, photos/video of you doing your thing, your work space…etc.

  2. The personal side of the business - with Instagram stories you don’t risk “messing up” your curated feed with photos of you wearing no make-up, poor lighting, crazy fun silly animated GIFs, or fun face filters. So don’t be afraid to talk right to your audience, use those fun GIFs and silly face filters. Share the personal behind the scenes footage. Do you work from home? Maybe give a tour of some other parts of your house. Maybe show fun dog videos or other parts of your daily life/schedule as you work & play.

  3. Other non-work passions - Do you love to volunteer? Do you love to read? Do you love hanging outside in your hammock 🙋🏼 then share these non-work related passions. Your audience is eager to know the personality behind the business, they want to know the person behind the brand. In a sea of other awesome designers, hairstylists, coaches, crafters, sewers, makers…etc. these could be the differentiators that nudge someone to hire you over someone else. Let’s say you are a designer with a passion for gaming and you are sharing this on your Instagram Stories. This shared passion with a potential client could be the deciding factor in their decision making process. Many people struggle with doing their amazing thing in what they consider to be a crowded market. They worry about doing what everyone else is doing, and how will someone choose amazing me over some other amazing person… well, I’m here to tell ya Amiga: THIS. 👆🏼 This is how someone might choose you over some other amazing person.

  4. Education - Start teaching people about the things you do in your business. You could teach actual business practices, how to sew, hair tutorials, design principles, writing, dog training... literally anything that you have knowledge of, you could share with your audience and teach them something.

  5. Take a poll - The Instagram algorithm likes when you use its built in features, plus a poll encourages engagement on your stories, which tells the algorithm that your content is obviously quality content because so many people are engaging with it. Unsure of what to poll your audience? You can literally poll them on ANYTHING. Give them a choice on a topic they might want you to talk about/teach. Which shoes should I wear? Where should I go for dinner? What’s your favorite beauty product? I’m not kidding when I say that you could create a poll around anything. Today I answered one that was about what topic they should teach. Plus from an audience’s stand point its super fun to click on your answer and then instantly see how it compares to everyone else’s votes.

So there you have it! 5 ways to use Instagram stories for your business and create more engaging content for your audience plus have some fun while you’re at it! Even if you use social media for your business it doesn’t have to be all serious business. We can still have fun with it! 

BONUS VIDEO:

Now that you have some awesome content in your Stories you shouldn’t let it just disappear after 24 hours. Save some of your best stuff in your Stories Highlights on your profile page! I heard someone (I think it was Jasmine Star) say that your Instagram Profile page is like your homepage on a website. And now with Stories Highlights, you have even more ways to connect with your audience and tell them more about you. You can use this to tell your audience more about you, to highlight some of your favorite client work. You can highlight some of your personal passions…etc. In true designer fashion I couldn’t just let my highlight video be what is displayed in that little circle. So I used the App A Design Kit to make some fun cover photos. And lucky you, I made a video to show you how to do it too! YAY 💃🏽

How to create a cover image for Instagram Stories highlights

Do you feel like you never know what to put in your Insta Stories? 

Are you avoiding using stories because you don't want to put on make-up or have poor lighting?

Do you think it will take too much time to post AND do Instagram Stories?

If this is you.. Join me in a LIVE Instagram Workshop on March 22nd! 

 

Come hang with me on Instagram and if you follow my stories you’ll see lots of ridiculously cute dog + toddler video and pics ;)