This is a guest contribution from our very own Shayne Tilley.
Late last year Darren looked at some of the DIY image and graphics tools we use here on ProBlogger — many of which I frequent daily. However with design, whilst I can resize and format an image and cover some the basics, the idea of approaching more complex design tasks very quickly exceeds my skills – and bad design can be worse than no visuals at all!
So today I wanted to share with you how a marketing guy with no design skills and no time to waste gets through a pile of design jobs every month without spending a fortune.
The quick stuff:
I’m finding more and more there’s a ‘real-time’ element to design. Posts need more supporting (and complex) visuals to improve the quality and iterations are needed for more shareability. On top of that, when doing A/B testing you need to be creating visual variations in batches as much as copy.
Personally I appreciate, and am often amazed by, high-end visual work (just spend an hour with this guy and you’ll know what I mean), I just can’t bring myself to pay $100 an hour to create five versions of a button, or create a collage to share on Facebook.
So for this work I use:
I was first introduced to Swiftly through my history with 99designs. After running a few trials in the initial days I was impressed by not only the quality but the speed of delivery. So excited was I about by what they were doing, I’ve offered my help to the team with their plans for world domination.
Price: $19 flat rate
To be honest, I’ve used fiverr more for fun than serious work. For example, if I need to play a gag on a mate for his birthday. But there has been the odd occasion where work and fun meet with my graphical requirements and that’s where I’ve headed.
Cost: $5 + upgrades
Microlancer is a bit of copy/paste of fiverr, but brought to you by the Envato network that I use a lot for stock WordPress themes and plugins. It’s perhaps a little more serious/businesslike than fiverr, and I’ve used them for slightly bigger design jobs. It’s newish and time will tell but I’m impressed with my experiences to date.
Why I like swiftly over the others… (with a disclosure)
Being totally upfront here, I’m helping the swiftly team at the time of writing this post. But I’m very selective about who I work with and I’m helping because I believe in what they are doing…
I believe they are destined to be the Google of quick design services. What I mean by that is I can spend 30 minutes browsing for the right freelancer on fiverr or microlancer for my task. In the same time I can have my designs already done with Swiftly.
They have built some behind-the-scenes magic to play matchmaker. I just tell them what I want, they find me the best person for the job, and it’s done.
There’s a reason we use search engines not directories to find stuff these days, and they’re doing the same for great design talent.
The big stuff:
When it comes to major overhauls like full site re-designs, full landing pages there’s likely to be much more at stake. So more thought goes into deciding who I’ll use. My decision marketing process goes a little like this …
I’ve worked directly in the past with some great designers across the globe so often my first port of call is to tap into the design network I’ve built over time. The requirements and style of the design jobs I need can be very diverse, so I’ll never limit myself to just one resource.
With an idea of time, a feel for the budget and the style required, out will go the expressions of interest to a bunch of people I’ve got a history with.
I realise that not everyone with have these connections to begin with, so it’s important to start building your own.
A big part of finding great talent is to go to where they are.
Freelancer.com & 99designs.com
Both these sites have great designers in their thousands. You might run a 99designs contest or a freelancer project initially and then work 1:1 with designers who you click with in the future. You need to commit some time up front to find the talent in the crowd, but if you are thinking in the long term it’s worth it.
But also don’t forget to look locally.
Whilst sites like the above tap you into the global market of designers, chances are good there’s a great designer just around the corner. Do some searching, send some emails, make some phone calls and you might be surprised. If you can find a great design partner locally and develop a relationship over time, you’re in good shape. You can talk about your requirements face to face. The challenge of time-zones don’t matter. It’s a great place to be in.
The visual web is an every growing thing and getting stuff designed well is more important than ever. There’s no one size fits all solution to all your design needs, but if you make some smart choices and grow your network you can take the hassle and expense our of making your blog and the web more beautiful place to be.
Even if you can’t draw a straight line with a ruler, like me!
Shayne Tilley is the marketing guy for ProBlogger.net and Digital Photography School. The author of the PB Guide to Online Marketing and a long time contributor to the blog. When he’s not thinking of new and interesting ways to grow the ProBlogger sites, he’s either bashing up developers or hanging out with the swiftly.com team.