Using Freelancing Websites to Find Your Designer

10 min read
Updated: Sep 15, 2019

Not everyone is a whizz at graphic design, but there is always a time in every business where we will need someone who is. The issue is that we may not always have work for an in-house graphic designer, and hiring and releasing one can be a costly business. This is where hiring a freelancer can be very useful.

There are some understandable concerns about hiring a freelancer though. We have no way of knowing how dedicated a freelance designer will be, nor can we guarantee that their work will be better than others. Many are turning to freelance work, and therefore it can take time to find true talent amongst, frankly, a lot of weaker-skilled freelancers.

But used correctly, freelancing services can be an easy and rewarding way of completing the project and creating dynamic design content.

Set your expectations

Before you dive into the maze of websites that offer freelancing services, it’s a good idea to understand what it is exactly what you want your freelancer to achieve. Most freelancer will specialize in one aspect only and will work better to a thorough and accurate brief.

The more you leave to the designer, the larger the costs are going to be. Worse than that, if you end up asking too much for too little, you may end up missing deadlines as you wait for someone to be desperate enough to take the work.

To avoid this, set your expectations early on so that you and your designer will know exactly what the project should be.


“One of the issues facing clients of freelancing is proof of knowledge,” writes Curtis Larson, author at Writemyx and Next Coursework. “Sadly, many freelancers are willing to claim skills that they don’t necessarily have or excel in.”

You can end up wasting an awful amount of time and money, and if you’re really unlucky you may have hired a charlatan who will ask for money up front and disappear before the project has been completed.

Happily, many freelancing websites can combat this by setting relevant skill tests. Some sites ensure that those who have completed these tests raise the rankings, meaning that those who turn up in your search soonest will likely have the most relevant skills. This is one of the great benefits that freelancing websites offer that regular recruitment do not.


Skills tests are a good way of gaging competency. They help us to understand a freelancers knowledge of their subject and their ability to think quickly. But even these tests don’t always tell the whole picture. Skills are an asset, but provable experience shows a dedication to the trade, and a decent portfolio shows method.

Reviewing a freelancer’s portfolio can be very informative in assessing whether they will grasp the requirements of your project. You may even find inspiration in some of their work and asking them to emulate a similar project to one they may have done before.

Negotiating fees

The idea of negotiating fees for a project might quite daunting if you are used to recruiting for in house employees. Indeed, for freelancers themselves, it can be a minefield trying to gauge what the market will consider a ‘sensible’ fee. It’s important to take some time researching an average wage for the kind of work you require.

Part of the benefit of hiring freelancers is that you can hire from any part of the world. It’s tempting, in this respect, to pay for cheaper labor from less economically successful countries, remember that it works both ways. Many freelancers look specifically to get work from countries with higher economies, so offering a low wage based on geography can be taken as something as an insult, and a reputation for exploitation can be built very quickly.

However, offering a fair wage for good work means you’ll attract only the best freelancers, so it’s best to go in with your best offer and reap the rewards.


Once you’ve decided on a fee with your freelancer, you should ensure that you are on the same page. This is where the clear expectations you set will come in to play. You cannot expect your designer to come up with the perfect design without having given them your parameters first. Likewise, your designer will want clear direction. It can make any freelancer nervous if there isn’t a clear agreement on how the work is to be carried out.

“Agree early on what milestones you’d like to put in place, how you would like to communicate and what payment plan you would like in place,” says Janet Kessler, a regular contributor at Brit Student and 1Day2write. “Never offer full payment beforehand, but understand that sometimes freelancer will want a token payment as assurance that you are a trustworthy client.”

Choosing the right portal

There are a growing number of freelancing websites to choose from, each with their own benefits and specialisms. Along with the previous comments, ensure that you take account of your budgetary requirements and the specialisms that are required by the job.

Below, you’ll find a short guide to each website.

Upwork, previously known as oDesk and Elance, is one of the biggest marketplaces for freelancing on the internet. It boasts a huge amount of different skill sets and experience and is tailored to allow both freelancers and clients to start off on the same page.

One of it’s greatest features is the milestone payment automation. This enables you to create markers throughout your project, ensuring that your freelance sticks to schedule as the project continues. There are a fantastic amount of well-crafted tests which will help to ensure that you pick the right designer.

US-Based Toptal is a job-posting forum which utilizes a rigorous screening process to admit only the most talented of freelancers. There’s an emphasis on recruiting for long term work, and a real push for freelancers who see their work as a livelihood rather than a side gig. With that in mind, a lot of their marketing focuses on their ability to attract the ‘Top 3%’ of talent in the freelancing marketplace.

They offer a speedy recruitment process, boasting that your job can be filled within 0 to 3 weeks as opposed to the average 1-3 months.

Fiverr has become a well-used internet resource in recent years. Understanding the growing ‘gig’ economy, it revolves around categories of service, effectively creating a cross-selling advertising board. It allows both Freelancers to advertise their services and clients to put up jobs.

Skills and services are very much viewed as orders which can be placed, and there’s a simple process for businesses to add team members to their account, so ordering these services is transparent within each company.

PeoplePerHour is a UK based freelancing website which, as the name suggests, offers a clear, streamlined cost to hiring for your project.

The beauty of paying by the hour is that you can anticipate costs, early on. Freelancers offer completive quotes once they have been matched through an integrated AI system. Each project is started with a deposit, reassuring the freelancer of your legitimacy as a client. Any further funds will be held in escrow until you are satisfied with the project.

Geared solely towards graphic design, 99Designs places control firmly in the client’s court.  A client can post a design brief and are then approached by designers from across the site with their prototypes. All you have to then is pick a winner.

In fact, it is a low cost, low-risk service, which in effect has many freelancers working for you at once. There are dedicated professionals who can guide through longer processes if you are overhauling or launching a site for instance.

Boasting an exclusive, invite-only roster of freelance personnel, is a simple-to-use, easily navigable site which matches jobs and freelancers in a matter of minutes. With only 5% of freelancers who apply to make it onto the site, clients can be assured that those hired come from the cream of the crop.

It’s a simple process with an integrated direct messaging service. In addition to posting jobs, you can simply browse the freelancers available and approach them directly. You can quickly build a roster of your favorite freelancers, so you’ll virtually have a team at your disposal any time a job comes up. has an ever-increasing roster of employers and freelancers from across the globe. It’s free to post a project any time you use it and offers you the chance to post small or large jobs. You have the freedom to offer fixed prices or hourly terms, depending on your budget.

There is the opportunity to browse the freelancing roster of personnel, and a chat system which means you can interview potential workers in real time. Freelancers each offer a proposal and you can compare and choose from those proposals, dependent on what fits your brand the best. There is both a desktop and mobile app for whenever you need to get in contact with your workers. You can hold your payments in escrow, so that you release payment only when your benchmarks or project requirements have been met, keeping you in control of how the project progresses.

Working Not Working

This website offers a community of freelancers all geared towards the creative industry. They don’t charge commission, but you do pay a monthly charge, so it’s especially useful for those who have regular work they need to post.

The freelancers are carefully vetted by a membership Bboard of top quality designers, so those you find on the site are the best in their field. Each worker is charged a subscription fee, so there is an incentive for them to offer only the finest work when taking a job. The service geared very much towards the highest professional standards and in recent years has extended its reach across the US and Europe.


Curated by Adobe, Behance celebrates their highly skilled freelancers through the home page of their website. The home page is a showcase of the best work from their freelancers, and you’ll soon find award-winning freelancers among the 12 million creatives currently subscribed.

Once you’ve posted a job, the team will offer custom recommendations based on the project parameters, and you can choose from these. The interface is very easy to use, and you can share access to your account through integrated apps with other team members.


This website is exclusively based on offering freelancers specializing in design. With an easy and pain-free interface, there is a flexible pricing structure which means you can retain control of your budget when posting a job. There is the option of creating up to 10-day deadlines, so you know that your job post can be filled quickly. Importantly, clients can receive over 50 custom designs from across the site, giving you plenty of options to choose from. Once you’ve chosen, you also receive full copyright over that design.


Katrina Hatchett

@Katrina Hatchett

Katrina Hatchett is a tech blogger at Academic Brits and writer for Origin Writings. She is involved in many business projects, in which she identifies project problems and finds solutions. Her goal is to improve the efficiency of communication. She also writes for the PhDKingdom blog

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