It simply blew my mind. I had no idea what she was doing until that moment.
It was a balloon. And it was the most amazing balloon I, to this day, I have ever seen.
This was my first job out of college. A temp agency had placed me at the headquarters of a large chain of craft stores. My job was to systematically put together weekly ads for newspapers around the country.
That’s where I learned the difference between me, a person who could use graphic programs, and a true graphic designer.
One day, my boss was helping me and started drawing something at my desk. I watched for three minutes as this women sketched something in front of me. I had NO IDEA what the heck she was doing…
…until the very end…
…it was a frickin’ balloon. And it was, I’m not exaggerating, amazing to see her draw a balloon.
The difference between me and a true graphic designer is just that. If I leaned over your desk and drew a balloon, it wouldn’t be a mind-blowing experience for you. Trust me.
But when you see a true graphic designer at work, it is something to behold. What a true graphic designer can do with the simplest depiction is worlds beyond anything a dabbler like me could ever hope to achieve.
However good we are at pushing buttons or using programs, most of us will never be graphic designers. We have to accept that fact. The skill of using those programs and the skill of designing are simply two different things. Having one doesn’t mean you have the other.
To Graphic Designer Or Not To Graphic Designer
Hiring a great graphic designer, while arguably worth their weight in gold, can be quite expensive.
Luckily, you have options for graphic tasks that are reasonably beyond your ability to do well.
In fact, I’ve found you can get good graphic design, “good” not “exceptional,” for less than you might think.
Let’s talk about your options:
- I didn’t have time to create a cover.
- I didn’t have the skills to create a much better cover.
It was the first time I had done a design contest. And I was on “paternity leave.” So, as I was getting designs in (331 of them), I was frantically checking my laptop to see if any of them were good. I could rate each design and give feedback on what I liked and what I didn’t like.
The winner got the prize money and transferred the design’s rights to me. Ultimately, I paid $799 For the cover. But look at the difference.
I just don’t have the skills to design something that nice.
An important note about 99Designs is their motto is “a design you love, or your money back.” I tested them on that. I wasn’t satisfied with the designs I received for one of my contests. They gave me a number to call. When I called, they apologized and gave me my money back. There wasn’t any hassle.
There are many professionally-designed templates that someone with a little skill can customize for their particular use. Here’s an example of a template I’ve used in the past. The second example is one that we ultimately never used, but I really liked it.
Sites like StockLayouts.com offer professionally designed templates in a variety of formats.
When the task is small, like a graphic for your website or protyping a new logo, Fiverr.com is a great place to go.
All designs at Fiverr start at $5. Yes, $5. Usually, the base design is $5 but they’ll charge you another $5 for extras like “.psd file,” etc. I’ve spent between $5 and $35 for designs on Fiverr.
Unlike 99Designs, Fiverr offers others creative, non-design, services (which they call “gigs”). But we are talking design here.
Here are some of the designs I bought from Fiverr:
Here’s another one that might look familiar.
And here’s a sneak peek at an illustration for a children’s book I’m writing. I got this at Fiverr too.
Now, these are examples of some of the best stuff I got from Fiverr. I’ve also had some duds. Most of the time, I’m pretty cool with stuff not working out if it only costs me $5. Here’s an example of something I had done at Fiverr, that turned out….well, pretty terrible.
Yes, with Fiverr, sometimes it’s a crapshoot. But in general, my overall experience has been positive. And hey, if you lose $5…no big deal.
Similar to Fancyhands, 99Designs gives you the option to buy tasks. But in this case, these are not virtual assistant tasks, but design-related tasks. And they are $19 per task. Here’s what 99Designs will give you for $19.
A Task is a small design-related task that can be completed in a short period of time (ideally in 30 minutes or less). Examples would be a text or layout change to a business card or banner, color changes to an existing logo, minor photo retouching or basic image vectorization…
For example, I had someone recreate a graphic the appendix of The Magic of Winning Proposals.
Most marketers are not exceptional graphic designers. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but in general that’s the rule. If you are faced with graphic design tasks, I’ve just shared a few ways you can get good design for cheap.
If you liked this article, please subscribe below or on the right side of the homepage. If you want to give us your thoughts on this issue, please leave a comment below.