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How to Hire a Freelance Social Media Designer: 5 Steps to Finding the Best


A quick glance at the latest social media statistics shows in no uncertain terms just how much social impacts business. Social media is arguably the most effective method of digital advertising, especially considering how powerful peer-to-peer marketing is compared to conventional methods.

If you were running a “traditional” ad campaign for your business, chances are you would hire a professional instead of designing it yourself. So why should social media assets be any different?

Perhaps it’s because you simply don’t know how to find a freelance social media designer, or where to look? Maybe you’re not as confident evaluating social media design portfolios as you are with traditional advertising? Or maybe you already recognize the value in social media freelancers and want some advanced tips from the experts?

No matter what’s holding you back, we’re here to show you the way forward. In this article, we’ll explain how to hire a top-notch freelance social media designer in just five easy steps, even if you’ve never done it before. But first, let’s look at why social media freelancers are so useful to begin with.

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One of the common justifications for not having a professional social media designer on staff is cost. Most companies, especially startups, simply don’t have the budget to hire a social media designer. And in this case, they’re right–it’s hard to justify hiring a full-time social media designer if you’re pinching pennies as a startup. That’s one of the main reasons we recommend using a freelancer instead.

Hiring a freelance social media designer can solve a lot of your problems, especially for brands on a budget, without demanding too much in return. To simplify, we’ve narrowed down the benefits into three main points:

  1. Lower overhead costs. Freelancers obviously cost less than in-house staff. And while in-house staff is often preferred, for most smaller social brands, a part-time worker can handle all their social media needs, so hiring someone full-time would use up precious payroll budget that can be used elsewhere.
  2. Frees up in-house staff. If you don’t have a designated social media designer, that means someone else is taking time away from their primary responsibilities to handle everything. Having a freelancer handle social media design needs only when they arise saves you from managing that workflow among your full time staff.
  3. Social media is a specialization. Social media is a unique field, with its own nuances and best practices (which are constantly changing). Unless you work with a social media specialist, you’re going to miss out on techniques and strategies that you didn’t even know existed.

The question isn’t whether you should hire a freelance social media designer, the question is how. Let’s move on to our five-step method for finding the best social media freelancer for your company.

Animated gif for Instagram by 99designs designer agnes design.

1. Browse a Database of Freelance Social Media Designers

The first, and possibly the most difficult, barrier to hiring a freelancer is finding them. A lot of companies never get around to it simply because they don’t know where to look. But the truth is there’s plenty of resources and databases created specifically to help bring together clients and designers. We list the top choices here:

  • 99designs. With 10 years of experience vetting designers under our belts, 99designs excels at matching clients with designers to suit their needs, no matter the project, style, or price range. Our new Designer Search feature lets you filter your search with even more specific criteria.
  • Upwork. Formerly oDesk, today’s Upwork deals with matching clients and freelancers in dozens of industries. While they don’t specialize in design, their general categories offer a little something for a wide range of fields.
  • Freelancer.com. Another all-purpose site like Upwork, Freelancer.com features a pool of millions of freelancers from across the world. They charge an additional fee to both clients and freelancers on accepted projects.

All of these sites make it easy to browse through potential collaborators and find the ones that match your style, price range, and social media strategy. Before moving to the next step, make a short-list of freelancers that catch your eye.

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There’s a lot of uncertainty when it comes to hiring someone online, especially if you’re unfamiliar with their field. There’s an art to evaluating freelancer portfolios; not only do you have to separate the magnificent from the mediocre, you also have to determine whether they’ll be a good fit for your brand.

Your first step is to filter down to the designers that satisfy your requirements. On the ground level, there’s basics like pricing and availability, but beyond that you have to choose designers that match your  style.

While sites like 99designs and Upwork already sort designers by skill level and price, you still have to do some digging into their customer reviews to get an understanding of their working relationships. Do they meet deadlines and fulfill client requests? Do they possess the secondary skills you’ll need, like working with certain software or understanding certain markets/audiences?

Don’t be afraid to schedule a phone call with freelancers to ask them these kinds of questions in person. As we explain in step five, the goal is to build long-term relationships, and that starts with a strong foundation from the onset.

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Freelance designers are not mind-readers. If you want them to realize your vision, you have to be able to properly explain it. Some sites require clients to fill out a design brief or creative brief, but even if it’s not mandatory, it’s always recommended.

To help you communicate what you want and foster a more collaborative environment, try these communication tips:

  • Use examples. Merely describing what you want can lead to misinterpretations or ambiguity. To truly illustrate what you’re asking for, use a real example from a pre-existing design.
Facebook cover concept for Upcall
  • Avoid subjective terms. Your interpretation of the word “edgy” could be worlds apart from your designer’s interpretation. Instead of subjective descriptions, use concrete and definitive words and again, examples whenever possible.
  • State priorities instead of checklists. Don’t attempt to do your designer’s work for them by listing out everything (you think) you want. That restricts designers so they don’t have the flexibility to incorporate their own expertise. Instead, tell them what your priorities are and why, in most cases, they’ll bring their expertise to execute what you’re aiming for in a way you hadn’t thought of.

To make things easier, feel free to write your briefing off a template. Using an already proven format, first-timers don’t have to worry about what and what not to include.

4. Onboard Your New Social Media Designer

Just because freelancers aren’t part of your primary workforce doesn’t mean you should alienate them. Welcome them to the team the same way you would a full-time employee.

Aside from the usual pleasantries, you also want to share all the relevant documents with them. Each company has their own, but typically these could be style guides, branding guides, design systems and any notes on voice and tone.

Because we’re talking about social media specifically, you want to go through your platforms with your new hire. Point out which of your past posts were the most successful, which were disappointments, and any other posts worth mentioning to give them an idea of what you want. If you have no prior social media, go ahead and point out posts from other accounts, even your competitors, to clarify what you’re looking for.  

5. Keep a Short List of Freelancers for the Future

It’s tempting to view freelancers are one-time hires—not having to commit long term is part of their appeal. However, the truth is you’ll probably have need of a designer again at some point in the future, and when that time comes, you’ll be glad you had prepared.

The process of finding, vetting, negotiating with, and ultimately hiring a freelancer is not exactly a quick and easy task. Rather than go through this each and every time you need freelance work done, it’s a lot more efficient to onboard more than one from the outset.

For that reason, make sure you’ve selected the best of the best the first time around. Spending a little extra time in the initial hiring process will save you lots of time in subsequent projects.

Moreover, you may need different styles or strategies in the future, so it’s best to keep multiple freelancers in your reserve. It’s hard to anticipate your needs in the future, so it may be a good idea to have a diverse crew  of freelancers to cover all bases.

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Conclusion: Cut Costs, Not Corners

With the full-fledged skill level of a hardened professional, but at a fraction of the cost, freelancers give you the best of both worlds. For a specialized field like social media, freelancers just make sense: you need someone who understands the complex intricacies of social media marketing, but their level of involvement rarely necessitates full-time work. Follow our easy five-step formula above to find the freelancers who will work best for you, over and over again.

This post How to Hire a Freelance Social Media Designer: 5 Steps to Finding the Best originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Once upon a time, in a land of rainbows, butterflies, and evil content overload, a gripping love story is unfolding.

But this love affair isn’t what you’d expect — it’s no “Romeo and Juliet” or “Sleepless in Seattle.”

Rather, it’s an unlikely courtship with a bond sealed by three little words: Business-to-Business.

That’s right. We’ve said. The secret’s out. For the last decade, we’ve been head-over-heels in love with B2B content marketing.

We know what you’re thinking. B2B can’t hold a candle to B2C. B2B is boring. B2B lacks sex appeal. But you don’t know B2B like we do—she’s a knockout and a showstopper.

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What’s so darn attractive about B2B content marketing? Let us remind you of all there is to fall in love with.

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… It Forms Genuine (Love) Connections

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“I love the ever-present challenge of speaking to our audience on topics they genuinely care about and in a way that really connects with them. Seeing big results really pays off all of the audience research and thought behind the content,” Elizabeth Williams, a longtime account managers, says.

And speaking of the real people we’re trying to woo with our content, those people are why Influencer Marketing Strategist Jack Fitzpatrick is enamored B2B content marketing.

“I love B2B content marketing because it is a constant reminder that businesses are made up of actual people,” he says. “When crafting an influencer marketing or social media campaign, we are creating content for people. Small businesses, large corporations, and every business in between, started with people having a vision and striving to reach it. That’s a powerful concept to me.”

[bctt tweet="I love B2B content marketing because it is a constant reminder that businesses are made up of actual people. - @fitzJackrick" username="toprank"]

… It Nurtures Buyers

Nothing is more rewarding than hearing those three little words from prospects and turning them into loyal companions thanks to our data-informed content strategies. Just take it from our Associate Director of Search & Analytics Tiffani Allen.

“What I love most about B2B content marketing is the journey,” she says. “It’s rarely transactional, but instead focuses on providing the right information at the right time. It’s almost like solving a puzzle. You have to analyze the prospect’s journey – not only through your own properties but in the digital sphere at large.”

[bctt tweet="What I love most about #B2B #contentmarketing is the journey ... It's like solving a puzzle. - @Tiffani_Allen" username="toprank"]

… It Combines Analysis With Creativity

Fresh out of graduating high school, I was confronted with the same question most graduates face: “What do you want to do with your life?” After courting professions like biology, psychology, economics, and several others, I struggled to find exactly what I was looking for. No occupation seemed to fulfill my need for a creative outlet and exercise my analytical mind. Until I found marketing.

B2B content marketing allows you to be both analytical and creative. Through analysis, you can uncover powerful content opportunities that produce desired results. And through creativity, you can make sure those content opportunities are executed in a way that excites and entertains audiences.

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This targeted, thoughtful approach is what helps keep the job interesting and drive such substantial results. Debbie Friez, Influencer Marketing Strategist, agrees.

“B2B marketing is targeted, so you can really look at how to move specific audiences to awareness of our client and buy from our client,” she says. “With my job specifically, I am able to work with influencers who may not have millions of followers, but are highly-regarded in their industry.”

[bctt tweet="#B2Bmarketing is targeted, so you can really look at how to move specific audiences to awareness of our client and buy from our client. - @dfriez" username="toprank"]

… It Presents Constant Learning Opportunities

Some of the best dates are where you and your partner experience new things together. And in B2B content marketing, every day can be a new experience, writing about fresh, emerging topics with varying levels of complexity. That is especially true for those of us that do content marketing for large enterprises or a content marketing agency

Our own creative content genius and Senior Content Marketing Manager Joshua Nite says: “I love the opportunity to learn new things. We have clients in finance, cloud-based software, IoT, healthcare... when we work on content with them, I get to learn about it all. It's endlessly fascinating.”

[bctt tweet="We have clients in finance, cloud-based software, IoT, healthcare... when we work on content with them, I get to learn about it all. It's endlessly fascinating. - @NiteWrites on what he loves about B2B #contentmarketing." username="toprank"]

… It Solves Problems

(Great) B2B content marketing isn’t just putting a message out there for the sake of it. It’s about solving a real, tangible problem for your ideal customers. That’s why Account Manager Jane Bartel is so enchanted.

“One of my favorite things about (good) B2B content marketing is that it's so focused on adding value for the audience,” she says. “More than in the B2C space, B2B content marketers are asking themselves, ‘is the content I'm producing going to help the person consuming it solve a problem?’”

3 B2B Content Marketing Programs We Fell In Love With

TopRank and B2B content marketing is a match made in heaven, and the evidence of our love is in the work we create. The below campaigns gave our team plenty of reasons to fall madly in love with B2B content marketing and we believe they’ll provide plenty of inspiration for you as well.

Prophix: AI in Finance

Interactive. Multimedia. Triple-digit increases. What’s not to love?

Several of our team members, including Josh and Elizabeth, are quite fond of our recent content campaigns for Prophix (including our AI in Finance interactive eBook) the most for the reasons listed above and more.

AI Finance Influencer Content Campaign

“We created something absolutely unique, with the audio plus the interactive interface plus our computer personality, Penny. I love that it's so original and, quite frankly, cool, and I'm proud of the results it's getting, too!” Josh said.

Elizabeth adds, “I have just LOVED working on our last few campaigns with Prophix. I love the partnership we have developed where we can bounce ideas off each other, get super creative with our concepts, and test multimedia formats and interactive content.”

Read the full case study to get a look behind the scenes at how our interactive content drove triple-digit results for Prophix.

SAP Purpose: Helping the World Run Better

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Our team fell in love with sharing inspirational stories from purpose-driven businesses, NGO’s, nonprofits, and thought leaders for SAP this year through their SAP Purpose campaign.

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“Sharing the stories of these Forward Thinkers making a difference in our world inspired our team along with the members of SAP’s audience. Seeing these leaders converge on one project sharing their passions and pursuits was so powerful!” says Jack.

Hyper-Targeted Content Strategies

With continued opportunities to refine and make improvements, Jane Bartel loves our ongoing B2B content strategy programs for clients like DivvyHQ, LinkedIn, and more.

“The project I'm most in love with at the moment: Planning and building a collection of resources for one particular segment of a client's audience. It's targeted, valuable, and makes great use of new and existing content,” Jane points out.

A specific favorite among the team is the seo-driven B2B content program we’ve been working on in partnership with Antea Group USA, a leading EHS and sustainability consulting firm, for the past three years. We’ve made a consistent commitment to each other, and results we love are in the air. From 2017 to 2018, total blog traffic has grown a whopping 149%, and organic blog traffic has grown 183%.

One of the pieces we're absolutely gaga over is this piece featuring hot EHS tips from a Demogorgon.

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Plenty of Love to Go Around

B2B content marketing is the perfect partner. Our relationship has a solid foundation and we continue to grow together, instead of apart. It affords us the opportunity to learn. It nurtures our buyers. It helps us connect with target audiences. It solves important problems. What’s not to love?

We aren’t the only ones who love everything B2B marketing. For more inspiration, make sure to follow these B2B marketing influencers.

The post Lovestruck: Why We’ve Fallen in Love with B2B Content Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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