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7 Places Bloggers Can Get Design Work Done (Without Breaking The Bank)

This is a guest contribution by Skellie Wag.

Every blog has a design. Whether it’s a beautifully put together custom job, a WordPress theme, a template or something frankensteined together with a vague knowledge of HTML and CSS.

Most of us are not web designers, and because of this, the design of our blogs can end up being a thorn in our side.

We want to make changes, but don’t know how. We’d like a better logo (or simply to have a logo at all), but aren’t sure how to get one. We know our header image is a little ugly. But what to do about it?

Frustrated blogger

Image copyright Renee Jansoa – Fotolia.com

Finding designers for smallish jobs like making tweaks to a blog theme, designing a new header, or adding an email form can be a little tricky. It involves working with a designer who is willing to take on a small job, who fits with our budget, is friendly, communicative, and does work in a style that we like. That’s a lot of criteria to fulfill!

Because finding someone like this seems tough, many bloggers will overlook necessary design updates, or try to do it themselves. If you’ve ever stayed up until the wee hours trying to make one small change to your blog’s layout, only to mess up everything on the page, you’re not alone.

My life as a blogger became much easier when I realised that there are several places where you can get small design changes done at a good price, by good people. I’ll dig into these options below, examining the pros and cons of each. Next time you need design work done on your blog, you may consider using one of these options.

1. Elance

How it works

You write an outline for your job, and list a budget. Freelancers will write proposals for why they are the best person to do the job, and will ‘bid’ a price for completion.

Pros

Because each job generally receives bids from multiple freelancers, there is downward pressure on pricing as freelancers compete to win the job. Working with freelancers from Elance tends to be affordable. Because there are hundreds of thousands of freelancers working through Elance, you are likely to have a rich selection of proposals for your job.

Cons

Because Elance is highly competitive for freelancers, many try to speed up the process of submitting multiple proposals by submitting generic copy and paste messages. In some cases, the freelancer may not have properly read the details of the job proposal.

Because the quality of a freelancer’s work is not approved prior to joining Elance, quality varies.

The verdict

If going through Elance, take the time to do due diligence on any freelancer you are considering hiring. Make sure you’re willing to devote some time to go through the multiple proposals your job is likely to receive.

2. oDesk 

How it works

Browse freelancer profiles listing their hourly rate, skills, and the number of hours worked through oDesk. Alternatively, you can post your job and budget and receive applications from oDesk’s freelance community.

Pros

You can pick and choose a freelancer whose work you like, whose hourly rate you like, and who has a great reputation on oDesk. Alternatively, you can post a job and receive applications (much like on Elance.com).

Cons

If you post your job to oDesk, you’ll have a volume of applications to go through, not all of which will be from ideal candidates. You need to ensure that you have the time to perform due diligence on applicants. If the job is only small, the time taken to choose a freelancer might outweigh the benefits of outsourcing the job.

The verdict

For small jobs, consider selecting a freelancer directly to save time, rather than posting a job.

3. 99designs 

How it works

On 99designs you create design competitions rather than post jobs. Designers enter multiple designs aimed at best fulfilling your brief. If you select one of these designs as the competition ‘winner’, you claim ownership of the designer’s work, and the prize money is divided between the designer and 99designs.

Pros

If you don’t like any of the designs provided by competition entrants, you don’t pay anything. You’ll receive designs in a variety of styles, with many different interpretations of your brief. Most jobs receive around 30 design pitches, giving you a wide range of work to choose from. If you’re not sure exactly what you want, this could be a smart route for you.

Cons

This service is a better choice for a large scale redesign, as they do not do small tweaks. 99designs also focuses on design work only. Because designers who enter your competition are not guaranteed to be paid unless they win (the chances of which are statistically low), their work may reflect this. Some members of the design community also believe that spec work is unethical, because the designer may or may not be compensated for their effort.

The verdict

99designs could be a worthwhile choice if you need a complete redesign for your blog. If you aren’t sure exactly you want, having a range of options to choose from could be useful.

4. Microlancer 

How it works

Freelancers create listings for their services, with price, turnaround time, number of revisions, and work examples provided upfront. Buyers purchase the service they want. The work must be completed and approved within the turnaround time, or the buyer is eligible for a refund.

Pros

Microlancer is specifically designed for small design and coding jobs, the kind that bloggers usually need done. Freelancers are reviewed for quality, meaning the standard of design and code is high. Terms, price and work examples are provided upfront, making it easier to make an informed decision. 

Cons

Because service categories have a minimum price, Microlancer is less affordable than other options. Job size is limited, so it is not a good choice for a complete blog redesign. Additionally, payment is required upfront, which might deter some buyers.

The verdict

Microlancer is a good choice if you have a clear idea of what you want and don’t want to spend time trawling through dozens of job proposals. It isn’t well-suited to larger projects, such as a complete redesign.

5. Freelancer

How it works

You post a job and freelancers submit job proposals and bids to work on your project. You can also search freelancer profiles, or post contests (similar to 99designs).

Pros

With projects, freelancers and contests available, there are many options for getting your design job done. If you’d like to choose from a number of interested parties, post a project. If you’d like to choose one person to work with, select a freelancer based on their profile. If you’d like to receive many different pitches for completed work, post a contest.

Cons

Going through project proposals requires time to perform due diligence on each application. Choosing a freelancer from the 8 million+ profiles might also be time consuming. When posting a contest, it will take time for the entries to come through. Freelancer.com might not be the ideal choice for a job that you need done urgently.

The verdict

Freelancer offers flexibility in how you want the job done, and a huge pool of freelancers to choose from. It is a solid choice if you have the time to make sure your job is done by the right person.

6. People Per Hour

How it works

People Per Hour is structured around hourly rates. You can choose to work with individual freelancers who state their hourly rates upfront, purchase an ‘Hourlie’, a fixed price service, or post a job and receive proposals.

Pros

You may be able to find a freelancer who has posted an ‘Hourlie’ rate for exactly the job that you need done, for example, a blog header redesign. Otherwise, you can post your job and receive bids, or choose a freelancer who seems like a good fit for the job.

Cons

Freelancers on People Per Hour don’t pass through a review process, so the quality of their work varies and may not always be clearly visible upfront. You should look deeper into any freelancer you are considering working with and make sure they do the kind of work that you’re looking for.

The verdict

People Per Hour offers the flexibility to find a freelancer through several different means. You’ll need to take the time to make sure you’re happy with your choice before you commit.

7. Tweaky

How it works

The Tweaky website offers dozens of fixed priced jobs based around small tasks and customisations. Once a job is purchased, it will be completed by a freelancer on the Tweaky team. The project is overseen by a Project Manager, there to ensure that things run smoothly and that work is delivered on time.

Pros

Tweaky was deliberately created around small jobs and customisations, so it is well suited to the kinds of tasks that bloggers need done. The presence of a staff Project Manager on each job offers an extra level of professionalism and protection against poor quality work.

Cons

Tweaky focuses on code rather than design. Some bloggers may not like that they aren’t able to choose who will complete the work they need done (freelancers are assigned to jobs by Tweaky staff).

The verdict

If you’re not overly concerned with who does your work, only that it gets done quickly and for an upfront price, then Tweaky could be the right option for you.

Who Do You Recommend?

Would you work with any of these companies to get design or customisations done for your blog? Have you done so already? If so, we’d love to hear your reviews and experiences in the comments.

Skellie is a writer, entrepreneur and web developer. She is currently helping out the team at Microlancer.com.

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Comments

  1. salman baig says:

    I’m using Odesk and Freelancer from last 4 years, I’m a web designer myself and there is no doubt that they are the best platforms. Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Great suggestions. I currently use odesk to hire all or my contractors. The jobs that I need done are all small jobs so this works perfectly for what I need. I also have one VA who will craft how-to PDFs that my contractors follow. So far I haven’t seen any problems.

    I know you mentioned volume being a problem in your article, but I have a solution for this. I ask the contractors to answer questions or perform a certain task on their application. For example, for article writers, I literally will ask them to write me a short 200 word article about a specific topic as part of their application. I have a VA read through the articles and the ones who respond with a worthy article get shortlisted.

  3. Patrick Chan says:

    I will definitely follow your blog post, to redesign my blog to attract more readers as well as to make more money.

    Thanks, by the way great post.

  4. Saud Shah says:

    Microlancer always works good for me and odesk as well

    • Kalen says:

      I have actually never heard of it. Can you tell me how it is better than Elance or any other site? I might give it a try the next time I need design work done.

    • Allen Mark says:

      Hi Saud,
      I am new in Odesk and I need some SEO and Web design and developing works. Please tell me, how to submit a proposal for a project? And what is needed for that?

  5. Thanks for sharing. I always use oDesk for the best deals. It has really helped me in designing my last site.

    • Anirudh says:

      Glad to know the oDesk helped you in designing your site. Also check our PeoplePerHour, there are lots of stuff there. Do check it out, Raymod! :)

  6. Allen Mark says:

    Thanks for this great article. I’m new in Odesk, Freelancer and Elance. Please tell me how to submit a proposal in those sites?

  7. Anirudh says:

    I already knew 99Designs, Freelancer and PeoplePerHour. Thanks Darren for letting me know about the others too! Will give it a try! :)

  8. Great article Skellie, thanks for sharing!

  9. Belyea says:

    What about Fiverr? I know it can be hit or miss but for example I ordered articles, logos, and quick fixes to the website for $5. Of course you have to make sure you research the gig properly and ask questions before you jump in.

  10. I only knew about Elance and oDesk. Thanks to this post I now know 5 more websites where I can get access to good designers.

  11. Some free tools I have personally used for my own website are subtlepatterns.com for the background. Great thing about that site is that it allows you to preview the background right on their website.
    Also rather than using photoshop, I have been using pixlr.com for online editing of photos and creating wonderful banners. It is easy to use and there are many tutorials you can find on the web related to it.

  12. Mohideen says:

    Elancer , 99 designs , odesk are my first preference for design work which i get best designer for my website work still i hold them for my business

  13. Brad Dalton says:

    I think theme specific designers should be included as well because they specialize in one theme.

    Most good theme providers offer a list of Developers and Designers who are highly experienced in one theme.

  14. Thanks for the list man

    Will go through these sites

  15. Eric says:

    Thanks for sharing. You help me in planning my budget for the next blog

  16. George says:

    Thanks for supply the list along with some good pro’s and con’s.

    I’ve used Freelancer a couple of times and will be keen to try out some of the others you mention.

    Cheers
    George

  17. Pawean says:

    Its a wonderful post on design work and places to look for it.Many a blogger like me have messed up big time doing design work by myself with limited knowledge of HTML .This post has given me the choice between better and affordable group to do the job.Initially I didn’t pay much attention toward design work but later realizing their worth start to look for right people after reading your post I think oDesk will be best suited for me.The post is very informative and focused.Nice work and very well presented.

  18. Ankit Singh says:

    Good list i will go through these sites..

  19. I have tried some of the places you had mentioned, Darren…namely, Elance and oDesk. In fact, Elance was where my husband and I had our website designed. I loved the experience there! Maybe it’s the inner type-A personality in me, but I’d HIGHLY encourage anyone who hopes to outsource work there to be as specific and detailed as possible with their job request. Not only will this give potential bidders the best opportunity to create a bid tailored to you and your specific needs, but it generally will make the whole process much easier for both parties. Bidders won’t have to try to guess and figure out what you actually want, and you won’t become frustrated by having to continually reiterate exactly want you want.

    As for logo design, we used a crowdsourcing company called CrowdSPRING. That place is great, but it can get pretty pricey before you know it. Essentially, you post a project and the site’s some tens of thousands of creatives can submit design proposals, that the project poster may or may not like. I find that their system weighs pretty heavily in favor of a buyer/project poster (if you are looking to have a logo designed, this can be a GREAT thing for you). On the other hand, it seems like it could be a real risky venture for a creative. You could literally spend our creating the best design you’ve ever created in your career, however, it’s entirely possible that the poster may not like it or, even if it’s great, it may not fit their vision for their business.

    Well, I hoped that could help someone around here! Glad I could share!

  20. Edson Hale says:

    It is right one should not defer designing plan just thinking them unimportant or of little value; it such work pile up you have to pay hugely. So you should get your design jobs as soon as need arises with these online designing resources. I was searching Fiverr in the list and quite surprised for not finding it

  21. Mayank says:

    Thanks for sharing the list. 99 designs is wonderful as it has a lot of options to choose from.
    Will check out the others too.

  22. techbustop says:

    its a good stuff i learnt blogging from Techbustop.com and it really tought me a lot, even all the free browsing trick i got from there works fine. the recent Glo magic sim which i got from them is still blazzing and that is what am using now so i will advice you to attach to TECHBUSTOP for good life in the internet.

  23. Chynese says:

    There are also virtual assistant companies that do design and will maintain your site as time goes on as well. Most are pretty reasonable.

    Virtuberry is one company that comes to mind, they have US based assistants only so you don;t have to worry about any language errors or barriers that you sometime deal with when using freelancers on oDesk and other platforms.

  24. Shawn says:

    Great references to look forward for my blogging future!

  25. I choose two people who love designing headers and they do deliver on time and follow up with any adjustments you need.Very professional work
    headervalley.com.
    I am not affiliated with them but promised to mention their incredible work
    Check them out
    They gave my blog a whole new facelift

  26. I would feel kinda funny having someone ftp-ing and changing css code without my testing the programmer a bit…who knows what backdoor they might be adding in there. Also for graphics, you might try gigbucks, similar to fiverr but gigs can be small or larger

  27. Shawn says:

    I might try the third option. I really need some blog design improvement.

  28. Arbaz Khan says:

    Elance and Odesk are two best places to find people who believe in delivering quality. I have got my work done on these two sites but that was just article writing. Never used any of these for getting proper designs. But thanks for the write up as got to know two new sites from this article – Microlancer and Peopleperhour.

  29. Saif says:

    Excellent list. I will prefer Elance and odesk. I am working over there too :D
    Thanks

  30. I’ve used Fiverr for some really small job — like a file conversion where I just didn’t have the software. I’ve used Elance for two techie projects (one involved some design) that were just a little outside my expertise.

    Both times, the winning bid was the one who had clearly looked at my site and gave specifics in the bid — it was pretty easy to pick out the canned bids.

    With Elance, one thing is that you can invite certain contractors to bid on your job. That’s what I did with both my jobs — read through lots of reviews and so on to find 3 or 4 people that really seemed like they had the skills I wanted.

    Finally, while most of those I’ve invited were outside the US (where I am), one of my big requirements was that they be fluent in English — if I spoke other languages, I’d include those, too — but it is HUGE in getting a job done well that you can communicate with each other with no misunderstandings.

  31. Alok says:

    I’ve always had good experience working with elance.

  32. Dave Lawyer says:

    Don’t forget Fiverr.com. I have had a lot of design work done there and have my favorite designers collected and ready to go at a moment’s notice. I have had logos done primarily but also social media headers for Facebook and Google+ as well as backgrounds.

  33. Adam Finan says:

    I’m using Elance at the minute as I had a disaster of a time with Fiverr.. I have found a great VA and designer who work for less the $5 ph and do excellent work.. oDesk was also bad for me.. Elance all the way!

  34. I’ve personally hired some freelancers to work, and the feedbacks weren’t good. Maybe it was partly my problem. I did not do a thorough filter and picked on the cheapest freelancers. In the end, project was not done to my expectation and lots of time was lost.

    If you want to hire, pay more and get good freelancers. It’ll save you lots of time.

  35. As a designer, I’ve thought about joining a few of these services but I’ve decided I can’t compete with the low prices of most.

    I love creating social media graphics, for example, but can’t give my time away for $5 (Fiverr).

    But, I might have to look into a few others here, as several listed were new to me. I appreciate the overview.

  36. Jana says:

    I agree with most of the verdicts in this post. Worked with Odesk and Elance freelancers, and yeah, way tooo many applications to go through. I ended up doing the minor tweaks myself. Thanks for the other suggestions though.

  37. John says:

    I have used Odesk and found some of the designers to be reasonable