What You're Really Getting When You Hire a Graphic Designer

I think as far as mysterious industries go, graphic design might be one of the more confusing ones to people who aren't actually working in it.

There’s a lot of intangible behind the scenes stuff going on that can seem hard to quantify, because creativity doesn’t always look impressive while it’s happening.

Also, sometimes the best design is the simplest… which can make the absolute perfect logo seem like it took five minutes and a sharpie to create. (Ahem… Nike.) 

In addition, a lot of us are freelancers working from home (or independently owned coffee shops) so, are we actually just spending our days staring out the window smoking long cigarettes and doodling on napkins? 

Yes. Yes we are. And eating bon-bons. 

Anyway, I digress. I know I for one tend to assume that everyone understands what resources, experience, and assets I bring to the table as a full time freelance designer. But do they really? 

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I realized the other day that like a lot of other service jobs, the advantages of working with a graphic designer aren't obvious if you aren’t in this world every day… you don’t know what goes on behind the scenes here or what work actually goes into the logo or brochure you’re paying for. 

So I thought it would be fun to give you a little peek into a few of the not so obvious benefits you’re getting when you work with a freelance designer like myself for your project. In other words, what you're actually giving me your hard earned moolah for...

Years of experience.

But more specifically, years of learning what works and what doesn’t. Years of choosing the right font. Years of making mistakes and learning from them. Years of doing the work.

Hours and hours of taking courses, watching tutorials, and fighting to not only learn Photoshop and Illustrator but also become comfortable enough with them to make my living using them.

I’m self taught, which means I didn’t have a professor or an art school to guide me. Someone else may have spent their hours of learning in a classroom instead. Either way, if you’re working with a full-time designer they definitely didn’t just wake up one day knowing how to create paths in Illustrator or the proper way to lay out a home page to entice someone to heed your call to action. I’m always learning new skills and technologies so I can do my work better, faster, and smarter.

A ridiculous resource library full of fonts, pro graphics packs, textures, vectors, backgrounds, and stock photos.

Designers hoard pretty things that we may one day want to use on a project. We’re a bit like crows with shiny objects. And a lot of what we hoard is premium swag that we've paid our own hard earned money for. Yes, I paid actual money for a high resolution image of a metallic rose gold texture - so that you didn't have to.

Our software.

I pay my Creative Cloud subscription every month so that... right, so that you don't have to. 

Our hardware.

I don't have a 27" Thunderbolt monitor and a Wacom tablet so I can doodle silly things on greeting cards. Okay, a little that, but mostly it's for the client work.

The hours you would have spent learning to do it yourself. 

The time you could have been working on building up your own business but were comparing prices for brochure printing instead.

The most important benefit of all is having a design that works for you.

Design isn’t art.

Let me say it again for the people in the back. Design is not art.

As much as I like to say my life’s purpose is to make pretty things, good design has a job to do. When I work one on one with a client I’m doing more than just making something nice looking for them. I’m making sure the flow of their website makes sense to someone who knows nothing about them. I’m optimizing their business card so that your eye is drawn to the phone number, or making sure their branding conveys what makes them unique and attracts their ideal market. At the same time I may be helping them refine their focus and narrow down who exactly they’re trying to appeal to. 

Hopefully this gives you a little bit of insight into what you're actually paying for when you hire a designer, but it's definitely not an all inclusive list. I live and breathe design basically all the time, it's my passion and the thing I can't not do.

That's hard to quantify, but I know the difference it makes in the final design.