A guide to help businesses and individuals looking to employ freelance creatives. This article is intended to be forwarded to clients, or as a basis to create an e-mail to help them understand the creative process and establish expectations. Advice has been provided by international industry professionals, edited and curated by Richard Baird.


When writing e-mails to your designer try to bring together all your points under one rather than several e-mails an hour. Take time out and send it later in the day, this will avoid disrupting the work-flow of the designer and avoid frequent changes in direction.

E-mail titles

New subjects for different projects will help the designer to maintain a clear history of your requirements and make sure that each has been tackled.

Suggested by @marcusbatey

Prompt payment

Most businesses work to a 30 day invoice payment system but when working with a freelancer it is often better to pay promptly. We aren’t traditional businesses and like to see good design results as well as the money. Establishing a long term relationship is essential and prompt payment is a good way to indicate your commitment.

Suggested by @dowsoncreative

Be polite

Most designers are very passionate about their work and while they won’t say they are disappointed or dislike your decision but sometimes it can hurt. Being polite and descriptive about why you dislike the results will help to bring the project back in line with your vision. Remember, e-mails are quite impersonal and can often be taken in a number of different ways, be clear and honest with your criticism and try to have a telephone call or meeting when possible. If you have had a good experience say so it’s always nice to know when someone is happy with your work.

Suggested by @marcusbatey

Manage expectations

If both parties are clear what is required of them & where the boundaries are, relationships will prosper. Ask your designer to provide you with clear details on what the will deliver at both the conceptual, revision and final artwork stages.

Suggested by @margaretburrell

Be open to new ideas

The brief can provide a valuable starting point for any project but be open to new ideas and directions, a designer can often sees things differently and may provide a valuable insight into how your business will be perceived and the best ways of maximising this in the future.

Suggested by @jamingalea

Don’t set too many limitations

Providing simple wire-frames is a big plus for designers, so there is plenty of room for creativity!

Provided by @made_by_Thomas

Stay organised

Google Docs is a free, easy and flexible way of managing ongoing contracts with freelancers. Sharing a private document with one or more people is simple. Even if it’s just a single spreadsheet with a list of action points and/or deadlines, it makes managing a project accurate and sets out clearly what needs to be done by both parties. Consider using other useful web based tools such as Basecamp.

Provided by @redskyforge


Invest in your brand and choose a designer based off the quality of their work, not on the price of their work. Just because the other guy/girl is cheaper doesn’t mean you should be investing in them.

Invest in the designer that you think will do the best job even if you have to pay more for it. There’s nothing worse for a designer than having a client choose to work with you for reasons other than they like your work. If you, the client likes the designers work, chances are the project will go smoothly and your expectations will be met. It’s always important that the designers body of work fits within the scope of your project.

Provided by @anthonylane


Relationships are built on trust, be open and upfront from the beginning about your expectations, how much you expect to spend and the time-scales involved. Changing any of these mid-project will lead to miss-trust and compromise the quality of the outcome.

Suggested by @jimmynotjim


With UK/US economy being tight and difficult for all and marketing budgets being hit hard, clients still need to value their brand and marketing material.

Remember. Cheap design is not always good design.

A lot of companies I deal with outsource most of their web work overseas and then complain about the quality of the code and support.

I specialise in branding and logo design and have been told too often by clients to purchase artwork off stock libraries, I always refuse.

However big or small your company is, never, never cheapen it by just knocking a quick logo up.

We live in a fast paced visual, saturated, competitive world, whatever your company, product or niche is, brand it profressionally and it will pay off.

Provided by @anilamrit

Limit your calls

There is almost nothing worse for a designer than a client constantly calling to check up how the project is moving along. If you’ve got a deadline set and maybe a date for suggestions to be handed over, then leave the designer alone to work on your project.

Constant calls will disrupt the peace that a designer needs to work in harmony and provide you with a high quality design. And about 50% of the information you give the designer over the phone will be forgotten anyway.

Use e-mail instead. Because the occasional e-mail is fine if you have suggestions or pointers that you want the designer to consider for the design, that you might want to add.

Provided by @growcase


On an hourly rate constant revisions and a lax brief will lead to a hefty bill, for a designer on a project fee these continual changes may result in an over-worked and compromised design.

Suggested by @logohype

Trust in your designer’s past experience

A professional designer will have a wealth of experience and a good instinct for well thought-out design solutions; try to place their experience over your own personal preferences and that of your family and friends.

Suggested by @logohype

Involve the right people

Make sure everyone who is a stakeholder in the client company has been given sufficient involvement so they feel part of the process, but keep it clear only one person has final sign-off. More important with bigger projects and bigger clients, but set it up right at the start it avoids BIG headaches later on.

Suggested by @creativexplorer

Contacting a designer

When contacting a designer for the first time (for a quotation for instance) make sure you address them personally by their name if at all possible, as opposed to a generic quote me for a simple website. Also try to avoid sending out the same generic email to multiple designers. From a designer’s point of view it may appear as if you, as a potential client, are not really necessarily interested in working with them per say and are merely looking for the fastest and cheapest quotation.

Take the time to find out about a bit more about your preferred designer, browse through their past work and ask for a bit more information about their experience and processes. Your first e-mail should show the designer that you are interested in him or her in particular and have taken the time to learn a bit more about them, this is more likely to deliver a quicker and more engaged reply.

Provided by @sheenaoosten

Cutting costs

Reducing print volume on a job with a complex set-up will rarely reduce cost in any substantial way. Look to your designer for alternatives to labour intensive processes such as assembly or where bespoke tools are required.

Provided by @richbaird

Small budgets

Simple doesn’t necessarily lead to cheaper design, quite the contrary, it can involve an extended period of design, development and revision in an attempt to distill the same values into fewer assets, often incurring higher charges.

Provided by @richbaird