can't get a hold of my designerCan’t find your designer? Dog calls won’t work for designers who’ve gone rogue. It’s a story that I hear all too often… a business owner hires a freelance designer because their design rate is dramatically lower than that of an agency, but when the deadline is near the designer is nowhere to be found.

What? Who would do that? The truth is – a lot of people. Even designers with the best of intentions and superstar capabilities have left clients blowing in the wind when a “more stable” offer happened upon them. You see, freelancing is a tough gig and after a few months, a year or two, the appeal of working under someone else’s umbrella can be pretty enticing. Many designers find it hard to eek out a living, when they realize they have to actually find their own clients, pay for their own operating expenses, oh, and foot the bill for their own medical coverage (stupid health insurance).

It’s hard to blame a designer for choosing a route that’s better for him, her or their family, but what happens to all of the business owners who opted to use those designers? Well, a lot of them end up coming back to a professional design company like mine. Why? For stability. It’s hard to put a price on peace of mind, but I’m sure the money that was initially saved seems pretty silly when you’d gladly pay double that for some help when you need it. Some of the most common complaints I hear from business owners who chose to build their brand with a freelance designer are:

• My designer does good work, but I can’t ever get ahold of them.
• My designer just seems to be too busy to take my calls.
• My designer started out good, but now I need more things that he/she just can’t seem to do.
• My designer built my website and now it’s broken and I can’t get ahold of them.
• My designer did a great job on my website design, but it doesn’t work the way I need it to.
• My designer was hosting my site, now they are gone – I can’t access my site or files – HELP! 
• My designer registered my domain name, I want to move my site and I can’t get
  ahold of them.

The list goes on, but now that I’ve pissed off all my freelance designer friends, let me clarify… I am NOT slamming freelance designers or suggesting that they are all fly-by-night operations. There are a ton of really great freelance designers out there, but what I am saying is that for many, freelancing is a temporary gig. If operating your own business was easy, then every designer would be doing it. I’m sure you’ve heard that before and the simple fact is that a one man or one woman show just can’t handle everything that a business needs done. For a business owner, these can be serious points of consideration when determining the future of your marketing assets. Of course there are exceptions, I have a really good friend that is a great designer, packaging expert, web development expert (on multiple platforms), programmer, video editor, animator and he runs his own business all by himself. Now that I think about it, nobody really likes him. Just kidding K.

All joking aside, I am writing this article because this is something we deal with every week. That’s not an exaggeration, literally every week we take a call from a business owner who is in some way or another being held hostage by their freelance designer due to neglect or the inability to solve a problem. Designers should be problem solvers, not problem creators. Who a business owner partners with for design and development can have some pretty significant impact on how that business functions down the road. It can even bring your business to a grinding halt if you’re operating online and have no other line of support.

There are many things to consider when hiring a designer to help brand or market your company, that is if you want peace of mind and I guarantee price isn’t the first consideration.

Here is a short list of critical points that business owners should be measuring aside from price:

1. How long has the company been in business? Are they well enough established that you won’t have to worry where they’ll be in a years time?

2. Are they able to handle all of your needs?
 Make sure that whoever you hire can actually deliver on the finished goods. For example; we’ve seen plenty of designers start an eCommerce job only to get $5,000 into the project to realize they can’t complete it leaving the business owner to start over from scratch. Actually, we pick up a lot of these rebound jobs, so disregard that one.

3. How big is the company?
 Is the company large enough to handle multiple projects including yours in a timely manner, but not so large that you have to worry about being passed off to an “account representative” who is dedicated to your project but can’t actually do any design work, ultimately leading to more neglect and frustration forcing you to seek an alternative?

4. Who will have control of your assets?

• Will you be able to manage your assets?
• If your designer bails, do you know where your assets are and how access or edit them?
• If you have an eCommerce site, will your site be a hosted solution with support?
• Do you know who registered your domain name or even how to access it?

Business owners have a lot of choices when it comes to selecting a company to build brand assets or develop an eCommerce website. The real question is; what makes the company or individual you choose the better option? Is it price? If that’s your determining factor, chances are you will be calling another company pretty soon.


Author: Chris London is the art director for, a strategic graphic and web design company where his focus is to continually find creative and innovative strategies to implement with businesses who need brand design and marketing with impact.