Day in and day out, you’re doing a million things. Talking to customers and suppliers. Operating the press. Creating and managing all of your marketing campaigns and sales efforts. Washing your windows. Sweeping the floors.
After finishing everything else you need to do, you still have to find time to design and create necessary artwork. Your partner complains that you’re always busy. “This is what it takes to be successful,” you reply. You have adopted the mentality of doing everything yourself, because that’s what it supposedly takes.
I understand your motivation. Bootstrapping your business is hard. I wouldn’t be able to relate so well if I hadn’t been there before. The truth is… You can’t do everything yourself. Doing so leads to burning out, which is not an outcome you want.
To avoid this, I recommend a simple, yet often overlooked solution: start outsourcing.
For you, hiring a full time graphic designer may not be possible because it’s too expensive. There are a lot of costs to adding a full time employee:
Salary. Benefits. Perks. Paid vacation. Sick leave. Maternity/Paternity leave. Health insurance, and more…
Outsourcing presents a solution to the problem of cost, and liberates you from the work.
Objection: I’m a graphic designer
As a graphic designer, the idea of outsourcing graphic design might sound like blasphemy to you. In reality, this is a big advantage. As a professional graphic designer, you can offer better feedback and direction.
Graphic design is a time consuming part of your business. By opening yourself to outsourcing, you’re opening yourself to saving time and money.
How Much Would Outsourcing Cost?
Don’t worry about costs. Instead, start budgeting so you can invest in outsourcing.
Ask yourself: What budget can I set aside for outsourced graphic designs?
When you invest something, you can expect a return of investment. By investing in graphic design, you can expect more free time for you, and more growth for your business.
To avoid the trap of, “I will do everything myself,” start seeing graphic design as an investment and not as an expense or cost.
I recommend you budget at least $300 to $500 per month on a fixed graphic design budget. Even if you’re just starting out, this could be a reasonable amount.
What Tasks Should I Outsource?
Now that you have decided on your graphic design budget, it’s time to decide what tasks to outsource. Here is a list of the things you will want to outsource:
- Original / custom graphics for clients
- Vectorizing drawings brought by clients
- Adjusting files, resizing, color matching, removing backgrounds
- Make existing or new files ready for print
- Redesigning existing graphics
How To Communicate With Outsourced Graphic Designer With a Standardized Process
The biggest problem most shop owners face when outsourcing is communication.
Usually your graphic designer will be miles away from you, maybe even in a different time zone. This in itself is not a problem. The real danger is not communicating in a way that’s effective. A system or standard process can help with this.
Here are three steps to create a good communication process:
Step 1: Create internal forms for briefing your clients
The main goal of the form is to get the gist of the idea your client has. Consider this an obligatory rule for all of your clients. Create specific forms for each task.
Tip: Consider using online tools like google forms or type form. Do your research!
Step 2: Use a project management tool to organize all communications
Do yourself a favor and don’t use email for communicating with your graphic designer. A project management tool is far superior for organization and keeping track of everything.
I recommend using Trello. See a video about using Trello for your shop here.
Step 3: Share inspiration and specific instructions with your graphic designer
It’s tempting to just submit the brief the client filled out to your graphic designer. For better communication and fewer revisions, you should act as the filter between client and graphic designer.
Share inspirations and examples with your designer that communicates the style your client is going for.
This process should take about 5-8 minutes per task. By outsourcing six to eight different tasks, you save yourself 3-4 hours of actual graphic design work, for each client.
Where To Go and How Much to Pay
The next step is finding a company or an individual to outsource your graphic design tasks. There are several ways you can do this.
Hiring a Graphic Designer From a Marketplace:
There are many marketplaces where individuals and companies list their services and portfolios.
Here’s a list to get you started:
Hiring a graphic designer from a marketplace analysis:
- You can have different freelancers on your virtual team.
- You can pay per project or by the hour.
- On Fiverr you can outsource simple tasks such as vectorizing for as little as $5.
- You have to go through a selection process that’s time consuming.
- Good freelancers are usually full of work.
- Freelancers rarely work with just one client, potentially delaying some of your tasks.
Selecting Good Graphic Designers From Freelance Marketplaces
Step 1: Write a good job description
Include your client’s brief and be clear about your expectations and what’s your deadline for the job.
Writing job descriptions are a time-consuming part of hiring individuals from freelance marketplaces. Consider using templates and standardizing this process to save time.
Tip: Usually on Fiverr writing job descriptions are not necessary as you can choose services instead of choosing people. On Fiverr you can hire a “logo design”. On Upwork, Freelancer and Guru you have to post a job requesting for a logo design, and then people will apply with different proposals.
Example of a good job description:
Step 2: Ask your potential graphic designer all the important questions that you might have, for example:
- What software do you use?
- What time zone are you working at?
- Are you able to deliver in (A, B, C) format?
- Do you have experience working with screen printing companies?
- Would you be willing to do a test task?
- Do you feel comfortable using a project management tool?
Step 3: Research and compare portfolios
Freelancers can showcase their skills and portfolios in their profiles. Check the profile to check their track record, reviews and portfolio.
Use this as evidence of what they can do for your screen printing business and trust your gut. Positive comments and reviews from different people are usually a good sign.
Step 4: Hire a freelancer for a small task or a small period of trial time.
When starting a relationship with a freelancer make sure that the person has the right skills. Your ideal fit understands what you need, your processes, and the way you communicate.
Tip: Hire the person for a short period of time as a trial but don’t tell him or her that you’re running a trial.
Look for graphic design quality, turnaround time, communication skills and reliability.
Hiring a graphic design team
Full disclosure: I’m the founder of Kapa99.com
Let me introduce you to Kapa99. Hiring a team might sound more expensive than hiring just an individual graphic designer, but it’s not.
With Kapa99 you can request as many different jobs as you might have for a monthly flat fee, with no extra-charges for revisions. Kapa99 has a team of graphic designer’s ready to handle any task that your screen printing shop could have. Usual turnaround times are between 24 to 48 hours.
Just like I recommend a testing period for freelancers you should consider testing Kapa99 for a period of time. Luckily Kapa99 offers a 15 days free trial, after that it’s only $399 per month
- Easy to budget, same price every month
- You don’t have to post jobs or review graphic designers (huge time saver)
- Free trial, no risk involved
- Not great for super tight deadlines, usual turnaround time is 24 to 48 hours
Charging for Graphic Design
Another thing you should consider when it comes to your graphic design work is charging for it. Even if you’re outsourcing, design work should be a part of your price.
Even if you already charge for design you should consider reading this section. We will analyze two of the most common pricing strategies screen printing shop uses.
Strategy #1: Charging by the Hour
When you charge by the hour you run into many issues:
- You can’t give accurate pricing to your clients, only an estimate.
- Your pricing might seem unfair because people are not sure that they might even like what they get
- It’s a logistical nightmare, especially when outsourcing graphic design
Great businesses become great by having the best interest of their clients at heart. When this happens, clients become fans. Fans share their love and passion with other friends which brings more revenue.
If you already charge by the hour consider switching to charging per project. If you haven’t begun to charge for graphic design, pick the strategy outlined below.
Strategy #2: Charging Per Project
By charging per project your clients will understand the cost of the whole project (printing + graphic design). This allows for easier decision making. Customers will appreciate this and love you for it.
Before setting up prices for your graphic design services consider packaging your services first. Packaging your services is about understanding what your customers need and offering a nice all-around solution.
Here’s an example on how you could package a graphic design service:
Package name: Vectorizing and coloring drawings
Service: Flat fee for digitizing and coloring drawings.
Price: $80 per drawing
How Much Should Be Charged For Graphic Design?
Deciding a price is something different for each business. To make your decision easier here are the factors that you should consider:
Research how much are other screen printing shops charging for similar graphic design services. Factor in what makes your service different or more valuable to your customers.
Price your services in a competitive manner.
Being an insider is working against you when pricing your services.
You might think that what you do is easy. But this is not how your customers perceive your business. Customers coming to your shop understand the value of having a professional do the work. That’s why they’re coming to you. You have invested the time to provide professional work and this is what people value.
Remember that customers in all industries are happy to pay for quality. Clients don’t care if it took you 1 hour or 5 hours. What they care about is the end result.
How much actual labor costs?
You need to know how much you will spending on labor. Knowing this number will help you decide how to price your services in a profitable manner.
Never underprice your services. Not even for promotions.
Outsourcing is a great way to save time and money for your screen printing shop.
Start by defining your budget and then what types of graphic design tasks you will outsource. Work in creating a process that will allow for effective communication.
You can find individual graphic designers in freelance marketplaces or you can use Kapa99.
When charging for graphic design you should choose to charge per project. The best way to do this is by packaging your services.
About the Author
Ka kei Ho. Founder of Kapa99, Unlimited graphic design help with free trial. Soccer fanatic by night, entrepreneur all day. My goal is to inspire other entrepreneurs to live life own their terms, by saving them time, money and frustration.