In a business climate as changeable as the weather, small businesses need a strong presence. Image counts, whether a business is glitzy or gritty, online or brick and mortar. This is where professional graphic design is useful. However, hiring a graphic designer poses its own pros and cons.
Graphic designers can help with branding
Crucial to small business branding are a website, a social media page, traditional print ads and perhaps some media sound bites. Because of budgetary constraints, small businesses are more inclined to only advertise on Facebook or in local publications. However, small businesses and their creative team must be aware of advertising and marketing trends. An effective graphic designer is media savvy and able to build an image brand that evolves with consumer preferences. At the same time, a skillful designer can give a fresh face to traditional or ordinary products and services.
A hypothetical graphic scenario
You've budgeted for printing and graphics and later realize your business needs a curbside makeover or improved online analytics. Your website and social media page, created from web store templates and family photos, were hastily hosted. After much time, money and effort, there is no payback. Even your "open for business" sign isn't pulling in foot traffic or making the phone ring. Your next step is to advertise again, but this time for a graphic designer. Is this your scenario?
Important Graphic design skills
Graphic arts occupy a special niche in an increasingly visual and virtual business world. Gone are the days of the sketch pad, the canvas and palette, and acetate overlays. Today's graphic designer must have a proven skill range. If you decide to hire a creative group or graphic designer for your small business, interview for these following skills:
- Website construction, hosting and problem resolution
- Graphic art creation for social media sites
- Digital photography
- Copywriting and blogging
- Adobe creative products and WordPress knowledge
- Advanced Microsoft Office proficiency
- Demonstrated knowledge of SEO, SEM and SOM
- Demonstrated experience in digital marketing and advertising
Essential groundwork before hiring
Before hiring a graphic artist or graphic design service, you should first do some groundwork:
- Define your marketing and promotion needs
- Explore all marketing channels
- Think about the brand and image you are cultivating for your company
- List the results you expect to achieve through marketing and advertising
- Define what your company does and does not do, keeping in mind your resources and the consumer
- Review your marketing and advertising budget
- Review portfolios of the artists or graphic services you hope to hire
- Gather employment references after the interview
Graphic designers aren't really a dime a dozen. Even the least experienced settle for dollars instead of pennies. Highly skilled designers earn salaries that are at least in the upper five-figure range. Even graphic designers chosen from the want ads demand a substantial fee or hourly rate. The rate for an entry level or mid-range graphic designer is typically $25 to $30 per hour. The rate or base salary increases if hiring through an agency. An intern is the least expensive hire and can build your company's image in exchange for help in building a portfolio.
This article was written by Linda Cameron for CBS Small Business Pulse
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