You’re ready to make that leap & purchase a custom design. There are some research steps you should do before you commit to this project & before you choose a designer.
1. Ask friends/fellow bloggers who they hired.
Do you have friends who have ordered designs? Did they like the designer? Were they happy with the service? Have they used that designer more than once? What didn’t they like about the designer? Did the good outweigh the bad?
Or, if you don’t know anyone who hired a designer, then find blogs whose designs you love. There is typically a link at the bottom of the blog or badge in the side bar that will display who the designed the blog.
2. Look at the Portfolio.
Do you like what you see? Are you visually attracted to their designs? Do they fit in with your style? Would you want your blog to look like one of their designs?
I see this happen all the time: A person hires a designer based on how much or little they want to spend instead of hiring them based off of their portfolio. You will not be happy with the design when you receive the first draft if you only hired them because you liked their price, not their portfolio.
If you are on a blog that has a design that jumps out at you, then find the designer who did it. You can usually find the link to the designer at the bottom of the page or a button in the sidebar.
3. Read their blog, look at their tweets, read their posts on Facebook.
Do you like what they say? Do you connect with them? Do they write personal posts on their blog not related to design? Do they seem like someone you would like to spend a good amount of time & money working with in order to get a design? Are they professional? Do they appear to be reliable?
When I ordered a design (before I did design work on my own), I made sure that I knew as much about my designer of choice before I started working with her. I liked her blog, she seemed to have a great family, her portfolio spoke for itself, & I felt comfortable enough to hand my money over to her.
4. Read their Terms of Service.
I honestly believe this is the most important step that a potential client should do before hiring someone for a design, logo work, etc. Do you agree with their Terms?!
Before I started this business, I bought a blog design from a great designer. I had her Terms of Service memorized. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. I knew how many edits I got on a draft, I knew if was allowed a refund or not, I knew how many drafts I was supposed to receive, and the list goes on. I wanted to know as much as I could about what to expect & the Terms help you, as the client, reach that point.
Do not hire a designer without reading & making sure you AGREE to their Terms. It will save you & the designer a huge headache in the long run. They are there to protect you & the designer, so do your part & read them.
5. Email the designer(s) you like with questions.
Most designers will answer your questions, free of charge, so that you can figure out what you are wanting. Send them questions, ask them about their Terms, their portfolio, ask them about definitions if you see something that they offer that you’ve never heard of before (like a favicon, post divider, etc.)
Ask them about different options that they might not have listed on their site. If you are needing something that they don’t do, can they recommend you to someone who does?
Typically, if you follow these recommendations on choosing a designer who will be really happy with the outcome. Also, keep in mind that to receive a really great design, you have to be willing to spend a decent amount of money. But, the good thing about blog design is that there are so many different designers out there with so many different styles, in so many different price ranges that you are bound to find a designer that fits your style preference AND your budget preference.
What are other suggestions that you have when shopping for a designer?