Finding a freelance graphic designer can be tough. There are so many designers out there and they all seem to offer various levels of quality, service and value. So sometimes just choosing the cheapest designer seems like an easy way to make a decision and save some money. But sometimes using a cheap designer can actually cost you MORE money.

Graphic designers may be offering their services cheaply for a number of different reasons. Some reasons might include:

  • They’re inexperienced or untrained,
  • Desperate for work,
  • Trying to undercut their competition and/or compete on price,
  • Have other sources of income and are just doing it for fun,
  • Living in a country with a low cost of living,
  • Don’t know their value or don’t know what their competitors charge,
  • Have failed to calculate their associated costs and factor these into their prices,
  • Are cutting corners (eg. using templates, copying/stealing other designer’s work)
  • Or they are using unethical pricing strategies such as ‘bait and switch’ (ie. starting with an initial low cost but adding other costs at a later stage)

Now lets look at the some of the reasons why cheap graphic designers may end up costing you more money…

Inexperienced or off-shore designers may not know or understand your target market
If someone is on the other side of the world, how can they be expected to know or understand your target market? So how can they possibly design something that is going to engage your target market and make them want to be your customer? If you’re investing time and money in something that isn’t as effective as it could be, you are going to lose sales, and therefore lose money.

Inexperienced designers may not know enough about design theory to be able to create a design that converts
I have seen so many examples of cheap graphic design where there are no clear call-to-actions. Without clear call-to-actions, you are throwing your money away. A call-to-action is something that makes people act. So for example, if you want to hand out fliers so that people will call you, calling you is the call-to-action. If the flier doesn’t effectively make people want to call you, you’re going to miss out on phone calls! There is a lot more to graphic design than just making something look pretty – the strategy behind the design is even more important! If you hire a designer to design something for you and they don’t ask you what it is for or what you hope to achieve, you’re probably just wasting your money.

Cheap designers may not end up being as cheap as you though
There are a small amount of unscrupulous designers out there who may trick you into think they’re cheap, but charge your for hidden extras like revisions, fonts, and stock photos. Don’t ever base your decision on any hourly rate. A $100 an hour designer may charge you for 1 hour, while a $10 an hour designer may charge you for 10 hours for the exact same project! Always ask for a fixed-price quote so you don’t get any nasty surprises!

Local and/or experienced designers can potentially save you money on printing and distribution

If you hire an inexperienced and/or off-shore designer, chances are you’ll be on your own when it comes time to printing or distributing your job. But there are many, many ways that a local and/or experienced designer can help you save money on printing and distribution. Examples include:

  • They may be able to offer you cheaper printing prices as they have accounts with trade printers that you wouldn’t normally have access to.
  • You may save money on print set-up fees. Often inexperienced designers don’t know how to correctly set-up files for professional printing, which results in the printing company either rejecting the file, charging to fix the file, or printing it anyway and have it end up printing fuzzy/pixelated or just not looking right! Often the poor printing company gets blamed for this, when really it was the designers fault!
  • Experienced designers can save you time and money on printing by organising your printing for you or telling you what to ask for. Printing companies don’t always quote on the cheapest option. You can often save upwards of a couple of hundred dollars just by choosing specific paper sizes, thicknesses and finishes!
  • Experienced designers can usually handle all aspects of the printing and distribution process so you don’t have to waste time doing things like contacting printers, mail houses and setting up an Australian Post business account.
  • Experienced designers usually know how to save you money on postage by choosing particular sizes and paper weights and addressing and sorting them so that they’re eligible for discounted postage.

Inexperienced and/or off-shore designers can cost you your time

If your designer is overseas, there may be time differences and language barriers. If someone is an inexperienced designer or there is a language barrier, you may have to go through several rounds of revisions until your are happy. This is going to cost you your time. Time that could potentially be better spend doing income generating activity or promoting your business. Would your rather a cheap flier design that takes 6 weeks and 10 rounds of revision to complete, or would you rather pay a little money to have the flier completed in 1 hour, 1 revision, and printed & delivered to your door in less than a week?