I wrote this article for web shops and tech startups looking to hire design talent. About twice a week someone emails me “I need to find a designer, can you help me?”

Hiring talented people at an affordable rate is getting tougher and tougher. Finding talented people is easy. The easier you can find someone means others are finding them and they have plenty of leads and offers, and their rate is higher. It’s harder to find a diamond in the rough, a person that has the chops but hasn’t had the right opportunity.

I hire several designers annually to help me with specific problems in LessAccounting. I find these people on Dribbble, a popular design community, a place designers can share what they’re working on.

Here’s how I find and hire designers from Dribbble.com

  • Get a Dribbble account, duh.
  • Spend a few hours browsing thru designs. Search for the type of work you’re needing done. Example: Signup Form, Graphs, Navigation etc.
  • Save your favorite designers and assign them to a list or multiple lists. I create lists for different types of projects I can see a person doing for us. Example: I have lists of interface, illustrator, logo, shirt, etc. Here are my Dribbble lists,
dribbble designer hire
how to hire a designer

Now let’s narrow those lists. Go to the list and find people with less than 700 followers. Usually Dribbblers with more followers than that have many leads and are too expensive for me to hire them. Tip: You can also search your favorites for countries that have a better exchange rate. 

Let’s start contacting these possible designers. Using Dribbble’s internal messaging, send 20 of your favorite designers a message. Alternatively, you could visit their website and contact them from their website contact form. Here’s an example of a message I sent.Hi there,

I’m looking for a designer to help me with the signup wizard in our LessAccounting.com application. I dig your style and use of white space. 

What I need: Several comps, design ideas, nothing finalized, collaboration with ideas.
Deadline: In three weeks.
Time: I think I need about 20 hours of someone’s time over the course of a few weeks.
Work Deliverables: Links, Rough Comps, maybe a Skype call to discuss.

Your work will be seen by thousands of people in real life situations. 

Interested? Let me know your hourly rate for 20 hours of work. Questions, just ask. 

Allan Branch 
cofounder of LessAccounting

Typically, when you contact 20 possible designers the numbers break down to five designers who don’t respond, five more who say “No thanks,” five more say they’re “Busy,” and a handful who are interested. It’ll take up to three days to get a person to respond.

hire a designer

In my situation, I like using several designers on one problem area. Since I’m not giving a huge project to one person, I have the budget to get lots of ideas from several people. I’d rather have several people give me ideas and help with conceptualizations.

I’ve found design rates from $15 to $200 an hour. Rates depend on popularity level, schedule, experience, and how exciting they think your project is. I often use the same designer for several different design projects during the year. Many designers will become unavailable because they’ll take full-time work or their hourly rate will be something I can no longer afford.

Dribbble has been a great way for me to connect with designers to help improve the interface and design of LessAccounting. I’m able to research UX issues and then contact people I admire for collaboration opportunities.

I’d love to know if you have any hiring tips for designers.

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