design outsourcing guide

The Design Outsourcing Guide for Online Marketers

Outsourcing to a designer can be daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with design and have no idea what to look for. There are a lot of options available; so where do you start? In this guide we break it down for you.

Step 1. Decide if you need a designer

If you’re reading this, chances are you are already at the point of needing a graphic designer to outsource work to – or at least approaching it.

Let’s have a look at some scenarios where there’s a high likelihood you would benefit from hiring a designer:

  • You have more important things to do and the design jobs forever sit at the bottom of your To do list
  • You spend way too many hours on Canva or trying to figure out Photoshop, and you think there’s got to be a better way!
  • Your social media pages or groups go stale because creating the images to drive engagement is too hard or takes too long
  • You live with a boring looking website and landing pages because you don’t know how to improve it
  • Your assistant or marketing person does the design work. They do a pretty good job, but their time would be better spent elsewhere
  • There’s an event coming up and you’d like to have some new business cards, a flyer, pull up banner or other material available
  • You are just completely hopeless at or uninterested in coming up with creative work

If you thought yes to one or more of these, it’s time to consider getting a designer!

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say: Get Francois [your cool, hip design guy] to do these designs by the end of the week?

Step 2. Lay the groundwork for your designer

This is potentially the most important – and most overlooked – step in the process.

Protect the integrity of your brand. When you pass on jobs to a designer, make it easy for them to create designs that are congruent with your brand.

There’s nothing worse than having to spend time with a new designer getting the style corrected and defined.

Make it easy for your new designer – give them a styleguide!

If you don’t have one, they are not that hard to create. Many designers will ask for one first or even create one for you.

If you don’t think you can do a decent job yourself, ask if anyone in your team will do it.

Whoever it is, the more familiar they are with your brand (logo usage, colors, fonts, image styles, etc.) the better.

Designers tend to make them fancy, but they don’t have to be.

Once your styleguide is created and is establishing some ground rules for your brand, your online presence and marketing campaigns can look much more consistent and professional. This will lead to a feeling of continuity which can seriously improve your sales and marketing numbers!

Step 3. List out your tasks

Now for the fun part (if you are like me and enjoy writing out lists).


Start with your most urgent design jobs – the ones you know have been put off for way too long. Or the ones for that event coming up next month!

Then add to your list things where you think a design update would be ideal.

Perhaps you have a sales page with some pretty ordinary icons or banner image. Or maybe a proposal document you think could look more professional?

These are not exactly urgent but you know for sure it could and should be better.

Finally list out your recurring tasks. Here are some examples:

  • Social media quotes and testimonial images
  • Ad images for A/B tests
  • Course material – worksheets, modules, cheat sheets, swipe files, action plans, etc.
  • Product / Course launch banners
  • Blog post feature images and supporting graphics
  • Lead magnets

Basically anything marketing or content related that happens often and/or needs to be updated often.

Don’t forget to send the list around to your team to see if they want to add anything.

The reason to do this is to get an idea for the quantity of work and what sort of solution you require.

This will tell you how long you need to engage a designer for. Then you can break this down in to three options:

One-off, casually or ongoing.

Step 4. Find your designer

Freelancers are great for one-off projects if you have 5 or fewer tasks. You can generally submit projects and choose to pay a fixed amount or pay by the hour.

Then freelancers apply, you select the best one and work with them from start to project completion.

My recommendation is to pay a fixed rate otherwise you will experience price creep.

The best freelance design options are through Freelancer, Upwork or Fiverr.

For casual and ongoing design requirements, services like ours or agencies are the best solution. If you have 5+ tasks a month with ongoing requirements too this will provide the best value.

Finally, if you have a significant amount of ongoing work, consider outsourcing to a part-time or full-time contractor or an in-house designer – it could be well worth it. The extra cost could be justified with someone who fits right in with the sales and marketing teams to get your brand rocking!

Step 5. Prepare and send a good great design brief for projects

Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles with outsourcing is trying to get your idea across.

Even if you have a solid idea, there are numerous pieces of information to convey. From backgrounds, text content and image selection, to print settings. How are you supposed to remember or even know it all?

This is where a design brief comes in – an online form for you to fill out. A good designer can infer a lot, but not everything! So make sure you do a good job for them.

task request form

Unlimitly’s task request (design brief) form.

Use a project management tool to collate information and prepare for sending. If you see something that you like for a certain design task, make sure you save it so you can send it as inspiration.

It may seem like a lot of work, but as with anything once you’ve done it a few times it becomes easier..

Plus here’s the best part – it actually saves so much time over the life of the project than going back and forth with the designer. If you have a marketing team, they will thank you for it too.


There are many options available. So take the time to go through this process and see which one is best.

Keep in mind – your time is precious and you should be dedicating it to whatever you do best in your business. Maybe that’s sessions with clients, sales calls with leads or managing operations with your team.

When outsourcing or delegating be sure to take your time to ensure it’s the right solution.

When you do, you’ll have a better experience and so will your new designer.