Come meet Steph Calvert. She’s the work at home mom, graphic and web designer, and illustrator behind Hearts and Laserbeams. Her work has been seen world wide on apparel, in print, and online. Steph has been a full time freelance designer for 3 years and a blogger for over 10 years. She speaks at conferences on small business topics, co-produces the Work. Life. Branding. web series, and is poised to self-publish a children’s book in 2014. She shares her Savannah, Georgia home with husband Josh and 3 year old son Phil, and will be welcoming a newborn girl in March 2014.
And if all that weren’t enough, she’s quick with a pun, and she shares her sketches and pics of her chickens and goats in her Instagram feed. How could you not want to follow her? Here is her advice for when it comes to working with a professional design studio.
As a blogger, it’s pretty common to be a one woman show. You’re the writer, photographer, stylist and even the web designer. Sometimes without ever having coded a line of html in your life. As time goes on, your blog gets its sea legs, and starts to grow, it makes sense to pass some things off to others. Especially design. To a professional design studio.
I’m totally biased. I’m a graphic and web designer. But trust me on this – to really take your blog to the next level, it needs good solid design.
But how do you find a professional design studio you can trust?
Be a blog detective
Do you love the look of a certain blog? Take a look at the bottom of their page – the web designer might have left their link in the footer of the site so you could find them. No link there? Try a google search for something like “web design client name of that blog you like” and see if something comes up that way.
Use your Social Network
If you’re looking to work with a professional design studio for graphics, illustration or web design, take the search to Facebook and ask your friends. Does anyone have a designer they’d recommend? You’d be surprised at how many great leads you can generate that way!
Hit up Craigslist
If your sleuthing and social networking came up empty, try posting an ad in the creative gigs section of Craigslist. Freelance designers like myself are always looking for new projects there! When you’re posting your ad, leave money out of it. List the particulars of the gig, what you need designed, and if you find a designer you like, then talk turkey.
You’ve found a professional design studio. Now what?
ALWAYS Look at a Portfolio
Your Uncle Leo might be head over heels for a certain designer that will promise the sun, moon and stars, but can they deliver? Can they work in your particular style? Any time you’re looking to work with a designer, you should be seeing an art and design portfolio of past projects. If you don’t see any projects that line up with what your particular needs are, you’re well within your rights to ask the designer about it. Have they seen this site that you fell in love with, or that logo you adore, and can they work in that style?
Get it in Writing
After 13 years as a professional artist, I can attest to the fact that creative types are notoriously laidback. Most times, when you’re asking around about designers and artists to work with, no mention of a contract will ever be made. And then the project might go south, leaving you out a chunk of money and unhappy with the unfinished project. Having some kind of freelance agreement in place with your professional design studio makes sure everyone is on the same page with deadlines, payments, and most importantly, who owns the rights to what’s being created.
Who Owns the Rights, Anyway?
Policies vary from creative to creative, but if you’re working with someone on a freelance basis, feel free to ask that a sentence saying you retain all rights to the work being done be added to your contract. Cover the designer, too, by adding another sentence granting them permission to showcase the work in their online or print portfolio, and everybody’s happy.
So are you thinking of hiring a designer for your blog building or make over? Are you considering a designer? Steph’s advice will certainly get you thinking and moving in the right direction. To get to know more about Steph, check out her Disney-inspired creativity exercises or read about the time she had the gender ultrasound to find out if her baby was a boy or a girl or . . . something else. You can follow all her design or motherly adventures on Facebook or Twitter.