Putting a freelance designer at the heart of your project

Friday 26 May 2017

It is much easier to identify gaps or problems in a design project when the parts of the jigsaw are assembled.

The designer assembles the pieces of a project like a jigsaw, giving them a unique opportunity to identify gaps or potential problems.

Putting together an effective printed publication can feel like a daunting prospect for small businesses who don’t have marketing experience or expertise. There’s a lot to think about – where to begin, what content you will need, how to source it, who best to commission, and in what order.

Over the last few months on my blog I have shared insights into the working practices of a few key suppliers on a print design project. In January I looked at working with a professional copywriter (Finding the right words, an interview with Geraldine Jones of Every Word Counts), in March I interviewed a professional photographer (Painting a thousand words, a conversation with Kevin Greenfield), and last month I spoke to an illustrator (Commissioning an illustrator, an interview with Laurie Hastings).

Working with professional suppliers like these can achieve substantially better results, having a really positive effect on the perception of your brand and on your sales. But it can also represent a substantial investment in your business. If you choose to go down this route then you’ll want to make sure that you get the best value from each supplier, and that the resulting text and images all work together well to achieve the result you want.

Some clients have a clear vision and are happy to work with each supplier in turn to gradually build up the content they need for their marketing materials. But what if you’re not sure how to approach the process, you don’t have the time needed to coordinate everything, or the prospect of working with all these different suppliers with their respective terminology and processes brings you out in a cold sweat? Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just deal with one person?

How a freelance designer can help

A freelance designer who specialises in design for print is ideally placed to navigate the design and production process efficiently. They have a valuable mix of skills, being as they are, accustomed to acting as the project manager as well as the designer. Putting them at the heart of your project will not only maximise the value that you get from them, but it will also make the process more efficient and the finished product more effective.

Designers combine their specialist knowledge and experience with an ideal vantage point over the whole creative process. It is on their desk that all the constituent parts of a project come together, often for the first time. The process of putting the pieces of the jigsaw together gives the designer a unique opportunity to identify gaps or potential problems, and to suggest solutions much more efficiently than when the content is considered as separate elements. It is for this reason that it may be desirable as well as practical for them to help you in this way.

The designer as project manager

Having taken a detailed brief from you, your designer will then be able to identify which elements you are missing, or which need improving, and in conjunction with you select the most appropriate supplier based on your needs and budget.

Your designer can then coordinate the efforts of multiple suppliers to make sure everything will work together. For example, they can resolve questions of pagination or minor copy-fitting issues directly with the copywriter. Or they can instruct the photographer on practicalities such as the required size and proportions of photographs, or art direct the style and presentation of images during a photoshoot. Depending upon the costs involved, your designer may even be able to handle the budget and invoicing of these suppliers.

If you manage the process yourself then all these details would have to come through you to the copywriter or photographer. By using a specialised freelance designer as your project manager you are getting the maximum benefit from their knowledge and experience – leaving you free to focus on your business.

To discuss how a freelance designer could help you navigate the design and production process, please send me a message.

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