The ultimate guide to finding and working with graphic designers

Faith Uzuegbu
minute read
Written By
Faith Uzuegbu
April 18, 2024

Hiring a graphic designer for your business is a big step for your brand. The images, graphics, fonts and colours you use all contribute to your wider brand message. If your freelance graphic designer can get it right, you’re sure to reap the rewards. 🤑

But good graphic design costs money and investment. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to hire a graphic designer. We’ll look at where to find them, what their graphic design rates are and how to manage the relationship efficiently. 

Why hire a graphic designer?

If you’re a marketer for a small brand, you may not have the resources to hire a full-time graphic designer. It likely falls to you to create content in tools such as Canva. 

This is a great option if you need to whip up some graphics for social. But hiring a dedicated freelancer means you can take advantage of their knowledge. They can help you refine your brand, create attractive messaging and—what we all want to hear—make you more money. 

Here are some signs it's time to hire a freelancer:

  • You’re not ready to hire in-house: It’s often cheaper to hire a freelancer or agency than a full-time graphic designer. With the former, you only pay project fees, but a full-time designer has additional costs like taxes and insurance on top of their agreed salary.  
  • You need design templates: You can hire a graphic designer to create templates. For example, you might need a template for posting about new product announcements on social media. You could hire a freelancer to create templates in Canva which you can reuse. This can help you maintain a professional visual presence even if you have a lack of design skills in your team. 
  • You want design expertise from someone with ecommerce experience: You might want to work with experienced designers who've worked with DTC brands just like yours. This doesn’t mean they’ll duplicate previous designs—instead, they can bring their expertise to create visual assets that’ll appeal to your specific audience. 
  • Your brand is growing: As your brand grows, the demand for high-quality images and designs will too. For example, you want to launch new social accounts, as well as email templates for your newsletter. This is a lot for one person to handle. 
    Graphic designers can help you create visual content for all your different platforms and channels quickly. Meaning you can get back to helping your brand grow.  
  • You need help refining some of your brand elements: DIY designs might work for quick social posts. But when it’s time to improve the visual elements key to your brand identity, like your logo or iconography, it’s best to let a professional handle it. A professional designer can make sure your brand elements are original and really harness your brand identity. 

If you’re after tips on improving your own design skills, check out Amy’s article on creating better designs in Canva

Where to find a graphic designer for your brand

Ready to hire a graphic designer, but not sure where to find one? Here are some places to look first. 

1. Your network 

Ask your teammates and past colleagues to recommend a graphic designer they’ve worked with. 

People generally recommend talent they know and trust, so you're sure to get connected with A+ graphic designers quickly. 

Here's a short email you could send to some of your old colleagues to help with your search:

Hi [first name], 

I hope you're doing great! I've been loving [brand name]’s creative and wanted to ask if you know any great graphic designers who can deliver a similar quality of work.  

Do drop me a line if any names come to mind. Thanks! 

2. Social media platforms

Social media isn’t just for selling products or watching funny cat videos. Your next freelance graphic designer is sure to hang out here. Here are some social channels to check out: 

  • LinkedIn: This is the platform for connecting with professionals. There are a couple of ways you can go about searching for a freelancer on LinkedIn.
  1. Post to your network: Let your connections know you’re searching for your next graphic designer. Create a new post, add relevant hashtags and ask your connections to share. Spread the net and there’s a high chance your next freelancer will find you. 
  2. Search for a freelancer: Find freelancers who are actively looking for their next gig by heading to LinkedIn’s search bar. Type ‘graphic designer’ and filter by ‘services’. You’ll get hundreds of listings of freelance designers who are open to work. Some will have a green ‘open to work’ banner on their profile pic, or you can look out for keywords such as ‘freelance designer’ in their bios. 
  • Instagram: Instagram is fantastic for finding freelance graphic designers. You’ll find that lots of freelancers actually post their work directly to Instagram, which can give you a feel for their design style.  

Note: Of course many freelancers can adapt their styles to meet your brand. So it’s always worth having a peek at their website too.  

  • Facebook groups 

Facebook groups are not dead! Honestly, there are so many FB communities buzzing with talented graphic designers. 

For example, you could join a group dedicated to small businesses. As well as being a great source for advice and recommendations, there’s also a high chance you’ll find graphic design freelancers who’re happy to connect with you. 

3. Freelancer marketplace

Connect with freelance graphic designers on dedicated listing sites. Check out some here. 👇

  • Behance: A social media platform owned by Adobe, Behance brings creatives from all over the world into one, searchable database. You can search for very specific projects like design for logos’ or browse hundreds of graphic design portfolios and find your next design wizard. 🧙‍♂️ 
  • Dribble: This slick platform is specifically targeted at brands who need to find a graphic designer. You can explore graphic design portfolios in a really clear and easy format. Or, use it to find design inspiration of your own! 💡
  • Upwork: I know, I know, Upwork gets a bad rep. In fact, I used to try and find freelance work there myself (£20 for a 1000-word blog post? I’ll pass thanks). But some people can really make this platform work. As long as you post a detailed job brief and you’re willing to pay a decent rate, you’ll attract some really talented graphic designers. 
  • Fiverr: Fiverr is similar to UpWork, but instead of you posting job ads, freelancers can advertise their own services. You can set your budget, filter by the type of design you’re after and tada! You’ll find hundreds of freelancers. 

Note: For both UpWork and Fiverr, don’t just go for the cheapest option. Not because the work will not be up to standard, but because this just reinforces the idea that it’s okay for freelancers to work for very little money. Pay your graphic designer what they’re worth. 🙏

4. Agency listing

An agency listing is a directory of graphic design service providers in a particular city or country. Here, you'll find their contact information, website, and client reviews. A good example is the Toronto Design Directory

The agencies are typically pre-vetted before they get listed in the directory, adding some degree of credibility to the recommendations. But it's up to you to research their pricing, services, and work structure. 

Should you pick an agency or a freelancer? 

When deciding between hiring an agency or a freelancer for your graphic design needs, it’s important to consider the trade-offs between team expertise and cost efficiency. Agencies typically bring a collaborative team approach, while freelancers offer affordability without the burden of high overhead expenses.

Let’s get into some of the reasons you might consider a freelancer over an agency, and vice versa. 

When to hire a freelance graphic designer 

Here are some instances where hiring a freelancer makes sense.

  • When you have a small budget: Freelancers are usually cheaper than agencies because they don't have significant overhead costs — like team salaries and office expenses. So their rates will be more affordable for small DTC businesses that don't have big budgets. 
  • When you have a one-off project: Most agencies prefer long-term retainers that provide predictable income over a while. On the other hand, freelancers are more likely to take on one-off projects that don’t lock you into strict month-over-month agreements. 

    Note: A retainer project is when you pay an upfront fee to reserve an agency or freelancer’s time and availability. The designer agrees to work on a certain amount of tasks each month. 
  • When you want to work hands-on: Freelancers can work as an extension of your team because they're juggling fewer clients than agencies. They're more likely to join your team's communication channels and participate in regular brainstorming sessions. 

This isn't an excuse to micromanage your freelancers. Treat them as respected consultants providing expert skills to grow your brand. 

When to hire a graphic design agency

Here are some of the scenarios where hiring an agency makes sense.

  • You want more structured project management: Once you agree on the project details, the agency will take care of day-to-day communication and coordinate tasks with their team. They'll send you project updates on an agreed schedule, handle revision requests on time, and coordinate everything internally to ensure you receive close-to-perfect designs. 

    This frees you up to focus on building your brand's strategy and growing your business. 
  • You want a long-term arrangement: Retainers are the bread and butter for agencies, so they're more likely to commit to long-term projects. Even if the designer handling your project quits, the agency will quickly assign the task to another team member. 

    Freelancers, on the other hand, can experience a change in circumstances that causes them to drop your project abruptly. For example, they might get a full-time job that limits their capacity for freelance projects. 
  • The project is complex: Agencies can handle a mix of projects because they employ designers with different skill sets. Freelancers, however, are usually niche with one or two focus areas. 

    Let's say you want to design a new website and create templates for social media visual content. You'll likely need to hire two or more freelancers for these tasks. Meanwhile, one agency can create a custom package for both tasks and handle them simultaneously. 

How much does a graphic designer cost?

Now you’ve got an idea of the type of freelancers and agencies you can hire, let’s get into the numbers. 

Factors that affect graphic design pricing 

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to how much graphic designers charge for their services. It all depends on: 

1. Their experience level

Newbie designers are likely to charge less for projects because they’re still building up their portfolios. They’ll increase their rates over time as they complete more projects, improve their skills, and earn positive reviews from happy clients. 

2. The type of project 

The more complex a project is, the more money it will cost. Here’s a rough guide to different graphic design projects. 

Project  Price (USD)




Brand visual identity 


Social media graphic package


Landing page


Basic web design 


Package design 


Business cards


Brochure design 


Source, ManyPixels.

3. Project scope and duration

Designers and agencies are more likely to offer discounts for retainers than for one-off projects. For example, you might pay up to $3000 for a single landing page. But if you subscribe to a design service you’ll save money in the long run. For example, the design service, Penji, offers a retainer for $995/month and you get 100+ design services, including landing pages, presentation designs, and branding.

4. Specialised experience 

You’ve probably heard that the riches are in the niches. Niche ecommerce designers command higher rates because they have specialised knowledge about the industry. They understand industry terms, market preferences, and common design themes. This allows them to deliver a higher quality of work requiring little or no revisions. 

For example, an ecommerce designer specialising in landing pages or banner ads for childcare brands will charge more than a generalist type of designer. 

Graphic design services pricing structure

When you receive a quote from a graphic designer (agency or freelancer), the pricing will likely be based on: 

1. Hourly rate

Most freelancers, especially on marketplaces, charge by the hour. You can hire them for specific hours per week and pay them biweekly or monthly. The average hourly rate for freelance graphic designers is $25 per Upwork’s data.

2. Project rate

Agencies and freelancers who aren’t on marketplaces are likely to charge per project. The exact rate depends on the project's complexity, level of expertise, and deadline. Most freelancers and agencies also charge a 25–50% rush fee for projects with quick turnaround times, usually 24 hours or less. 

3. Package rate

Graphic designers who offer related services might sell them as bundles or packages. For example, they might combine website design with web development. Or they might offer brand guidelines creation with social media templates. 

Fathi Said Design Studio is a great example here. It offers two packages: Express and Business Accelerator, which cost 60,000 (approximately 453 USD) and 120,000 (approximately 906 USD) Kenyan Shillings, respectively. 

4. Flat rate 

If you opt for a graphic design agency rather than a freelancer, you might find they have a productised services structure where they offer design services for a fixed monthly fee. This means that you pay a set price for a specific set of deliverables each month.

Take Design Pickle, for example. It offers Essential, Premium, and Power packages. The Essential Plan, for example, costs $1214/month (billed annually) and includes custom illustrations and presentation design services. You'll also get 24-hour customer support on weekdays, unlimited revisions, and 24-hour project turnaround.  

How to brief your graphic designer 

Your freelance graphic designer or agency don’t know the ins-and-outs of your company. 

It’s down to you to provide them with all the information, like your style guide, and be clear on your expectations. That's what a good design brief is for. It should include the project description, objectives and timelines, brand guidelines, and visual references. 

This is where Dash (that’s us 👋) can lend a hand. As a digital asset management tool, Dash can help you manage and organise your design projects. 

For example, you can integrate Dash with Corebook to create up-to-date interactive brand guidelines. This way your design team always has access to the latest branding information. You can also create a public portal of your Dash to share visual references and product images for design projects. 

When the designs are all set, your graphic designer can upload them directly to your Dash for approval. You can review each image, reject the ones you don't like, and assign tags and folders to the ones you do. You can also add comments for revisions. 

Check out some other ways DTC design teams use Dash

Tips for managing the relationship with your graphic designer

Once you’ve hired a designer or agency, you’ll want to build and manage a good relationship so they can continuously deliver great work. Here are a few ways to manage the relationship with your designer. 

1. Set up good workflows 

Set up standard processes for sharing information between your team and your designer to eliminate back-and-forth. 

For example, you can add all the brand guidelines and images required for a project to a public portal in your Dash. Your designer can access it (with or without a password) and search for everything they need, without needing to hassle you each time. Take a look at one of the portals we set up for sharing brand assets with our freelancers.  

As well as sharing content, you can also ask your designers to upload complete projects to your Dash for review. You can add comments, request revisions, or approve designs that can be accessed by the rest of your team. 

2. Clearly define your project scope

Be clear about the scope of your project from the beginning. This will help your graphic designer understand what you need and deliver accordingly. Outline your design needs and objectives in detail to avoid confusion later.

3. Set realistic expectations

Set realistic expectations for your graphic designer. Understand that design work takes time and effort, and delivering projects in a day or two may not always be possible. Give your graphic designer enough time to produce quality work.

4. Avoid micromanagement

Micromanagement makes collaboration stressful. Constant oversight will overwhelm and frustrate your designer, and you’ll get stressed out by the added workload.

You hired a professional. Give them the right tools and information, then trust them to do their job. 

When to hire a full-time designer for your brand

When you’re consistently assigning tasks and projects to your freelance graphic designer, to the point where they're almost always occupied, it might be a sign you need to hire someone full time. 

Here are some other signals that it's time to take graphic design in-house: 

  • Inconsistent work quality: If your freelancer needs strict supervision and multiple revisions to meet your quality standards, consider hiring an in-house design employee. This gives you more control over the design process, quality assurance and adherence to brand guidelines.
  • Niche expertise: Freelancers might recycle a single design idea for multiple clients, making it hard for your brand to stand out. Having an in-house designer focused on your brand can be invaluable if you want to create unique designs. 
  • Speed: Freelancers juggle multiple clients and projects simultaneously, sometimes leading to delays or availability issues. If you need design work done quickly, having an in-house designer can be a significant advantage. You won't have to wait for a designer to become available or worry about communication delays.

Manage your graphic design projects with Dash

That’s it from us! We hope these tips help you hire the best graphic designer and nurture a successful working relationship with them. 

If you’re looking for a better way to manage your graphic design projects, learn how ecommerce brands like Forthgalde’s use Dash to streamline their creative work

You can also read a detailed breakdown on how Dash can improve your design asset management

And if you’re bored of reading, why not sign up for a free, 14-day trial—no credit card required? 😉🙌 

Faith Uzuegbu

Faith Uzuegbu is a content marketer and freelance writer for B2B SaaS and tech companies like ClassPass, PlayPlay, and Thinkific.

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Faith Uzuegbu

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