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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.

What Can a Freelance Social Media Designer Do for You?

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.

2. Properly Vet the Portfolios of Your Short List

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.

3. Clearly Communicate What You Want

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.

Check Also

The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information

Building Online Communities in B2B

Building Online Communities in B2B

What does effective marketing engagement look like?

In the common model we see today, it’s something like this: Brands push out relevant messaging, hoping to compel a response or interaction that leads to a conversation (and maybe ultimately a conversion). This can be anything from a comment on a social media post to a chat window initiation.

Nothing wrong with that. These back-and-forths between brands and individuals are important ingredients toward building trust and loyalty. The problem is that, as a sole method for driving engagement, the cast-and-wait approach is too dependent on explicit triggers to spark these interactions.  

Devising and creating content that drives targeted engagement is hard work. It’s worthwhile, but hard, and sometimes even well conceived plans miss the mark. What if you were able to develop a self-driven engagement engine, which fostered strategic conversations built awareness among your most valuable customers and prospects?

Enter: Communities.

Why Communities Matter to Digital Marketers

In his seminal book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin writes about turning scattered groups of followers into a unified “tribe,” which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

Human beings have long gravitated toward these communal experiences, elevating the collective power of their interests, beliefs, or passions. According to Godin, a group needs two things to become a tribe:

  1. A shared idea
  2. A way to communicate

The internet has taken care of No. 2, making it easy for strangers around the globe to come together via message boards, social media, subreddits, etc. So really it’s about identifying that mutual idea, or focal point, and taking the lead in rallying people around it.

Coordinating Communities for B2B Marketing

It’s not uncommon for tribes to form around a B2C product or service. For example, my fiancée follows several social media groups dedicated to Oreo cookies. People in these communities share updates about new flavors, and where they can be found. Other examples of strong brand communities include Sephora, LEGO, and Starbucks.

In the B2B space, this is more challenging. People aren’t generally drawn to, say, cybersecurity software in the same way they are to their favorite coffee or cosmetics brand. But that’s not to say there isn’t a deep level of passion for cybersecurity — it’s a prevalent issue throughout our society, and one that many professionals spend their entire days thinking about. The key lies in hitting the right resonant note and facilitating connections.

In the case of cybersecurity specialists, we have to ask: What questions burn in their minds? Which elements of the subject excite or agitate them? Where do discussions among hardcore followers tend to center? This type of empathetic mindset should be at the core of our DNA as modern marketers.

Building B2B communities doesn’t always mean trying to create a “brand community” where your company and its offerings are the primary focus; this can be tough to accomplish, and even when you do, you’re unlikely to pull in many members outside of your existing customer base. The more effective approach, from my view, is building communities around interests and commonalities that align directly with what you do.

Pinpointing the ideal focal point for your community requires an acute understanding of the people you serve, derived through copious research. We can apply many of the same tactics for identifying best answer opportunities to arrive at data-driven conclusions about the most avid areas of curiosity for our audiences. If your customers are repeatedly asking the same questions to Google, they probably want to discuss them amongst one another as well.

Where Can You Build Online Communities?

Let’s say you’re interested in starting a community around a certain topic relevant to your brand. Where might go about doing so? Here are some popular options:

  • Facebook Groups: It’s the world’s most popular social media platform and a prevalent hub for connecting around common interests. We wrote recently about the value of Facebook groups for B2B brands. And Facebook’s recently announced redesign will put groups at the center of the experience.
  • LinkedIn Groups: Often a better contextual fit than Facebook for B2B social media groups, as LinkedIn is (of course) structured around professional topics. Last year LinkedIn made its Groups feature more accessible by integrating it into the mobile app.
  • Forum/Message Board: The online message board traces its origins back nearly to the dawn of the internet, when it was called a bulletin board system (BBS). Today, these platforms for organized digital discourse remain prevalent and — when well populated — highly active and engaging. This post from HubSpot offers some step-by-step guidance for launching your community in such a fashion.
  • Microsite: A special section of your website dedicated entirely to allowing your customers and audience members to interact with one another. It might be a message board built within your site, or a more customized setup. Whatever the case, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to navigate and follow conversation threads.

Benefits of B2B Community-Building

“Community is important because it brings people together. Community keeps people loyal, makes them feel like they matter. It also lets the company show how much they appreciate their customers,” according to Mary Green, a community-building specialist who shared her insights with B2B News Network.

Beyond the overarching loyalty imperative, here are a few other practical advantages to creating an online community:

  • Firsthand audience research. Marketers are always endeavoring to understand what matters most to their audiences. In many cases, this requires considerable guesswork. But by monitoring a community, you can watch conversations play out organically, seeing what impassioned followers talk about and how they talk about it. This can serve as a crucial springboard for your content planning. It might even help inspire new product features or service offerings.
  • User-generated content. “Brands and influencers can make great content, but the phenomenal stuff comes from the discussion. User-generated content is gold,” says Green. I’ve written here in the past about the power of UGC for authenticity, and online communities can be an excellent resource for uncovering it.
  • Finding and cultivating influencers. Within these communities, you’ll frequently see particular experts emerging with strong voices or magnetic insights. These might be candidates to incorporate more deeply into your influencer marketing strategy.

B2B Brands Running Strong Communities

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few companies that set the right example with B2B community-building:

Bank of America

They major national bank created a small business online community, which they describe as “a forum for small business ideas, insider tips, and the industry knowledge you need to help your small business grow.”

As you scroll through the links and discussions within, you’ll find that much of it is unrelated to banking or even financial matters, and that’s just fine. The point is that numerous customers and prospects are coming to BoA’s website to talk shop.

Bank of America Online Community


The QuickBooks Community is basically a public knowledge bank where users can help each other solve problems and learn new things. There are product-centric areas for QB troubleshooting, as well as general business discussions. Intuit company reps are also active participants in the community.

QuickBooks Online Community


Jamf Nation describes itself as “the largest Apple IT management community in the world.” It’s a perfect example of owning a niche, and mobilizing a community while keeping product promotion on the backburner. Members are welcomed to “Dialog with your fellow IT professionals, gain insight about Apple device deployments, share best practices and bounce ideas off each other.”

Jamf Nation Online Community

Find Your Tribe

As marketing emphasis shifts more and more toward delivering holistic experiences, community-building should be a key consideration for practitioners everywhere, especially in B2B where the opportunity is especially ripe. Herein lies the next frontier of digital engagement.

Want to learn more about B2B brands that are finding more authentic ways to engage? Check out our post: Flipping the B2B Marketing Script: 7 Brands That Talk to Consumers, Not Companies

The post The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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