How To Outsource Graphic Design In 2018

by Alan Walker, 08/20/18

Outsourcing graphic design can save a lot of money and be a great way to scale a company. However there are pitfalls and challenges that you may not know about. We’ve put together an in-depth guide to outsourcing graphic design to make sure you can outsource graphic design successfully and responsibly.

Who SHOULD NOT outsource graphic design?

business owner frustrated looking at laptop

If you’re looking for someone to just do a one-off design for you, outsourcing may not actually be worth the trouble. Your business would have to constantly need graphic design work done for you to consider outsource graphic design. There are a lot of costs that you may not be factoring in initially. Sure, the cost seems to be significantly cheaper than hiring someone to work with you in-house, but the administrative overhead and time consuming aspect of finding the perfect designer is expensive.

If you’re a solo entrepreneur, new business owner, or just need a quick design done, below are some options I recommend. These options are significantly cheaper and you’re more likely to get what you want.

  1. Fiverr have a ton of great designers that can do designs for $5 and this is good if you just need a quick design done and have the patience to wait at least a week or two for your designs. Just don’t expect anything too custom and remember…you’re only paying $5 – $10 per design. So you will get what you pay for.
  2. 99 Designs is more upscale in terms of quality. If you need logos, websites, apps, or something more sophisticated done, and you NEED it to look great, we recommend 99designs.  Expect to pay at least $300 for a logo and north of $1500 for a complete web or app design.


Who SHOULD outsource graphic design?

art student looking at phone while at studio

Typically more established businesses/agencies with their own internal design team are the ones who outsource graphic design the most. You’d think they would only hire in-house in order to maintain quality and consistency, however it’s actually the opposite. By outsourcing graphic design, they’re able to liberate their in-house designers from mundane grunt work. As a result, their in-house designers can focus on the creative work for prestigious clients, you know…the ones who pay the bills. Below are a list of companies who commonly outsource graphic design.

Ad agencies: Ad agencies constantly need Google, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, and ads designed on a daily basis. Those A/B/C ad testing can be demanding for 1-2 designers in-house.

Marketing agencies: Marketing agencies constantly have a need for outsource graphic design to complete their overload of design tasks.

Web design agencies: If you’re a web design agency or developer and need some additional help getting those designs done.

Marketing Teams: If you’re in charge of a marketing team and have deadlines to meet for your company and your in-house designer (or intern) is constantly busy and booked with work, then definitely consider outsourcing some additional help.

Established company/startup: If you’re running a more established company with your own designers or even design team. More often than not, your own designers need help. And it’s a smart idea to enlist some offshore designers to help out with the grunt work. This will allow your in-house team to focus on more important and creative design work for your company.


Pros and Cons of outsourcing

business owner looking at laptop while listening to music


  1. Labor cost: Let’s get the elephant out of the room. We all know it’s one of the most affordable way to get designs done.
  2. Scalable: With enough practice and the right systems/processes in place, you can scale your operation and run a full fledge team.
  3. Large pool of talents: You immediately have access to a much larger pool of talent than what could hire locally.


  1. Management: You will have to monitor and manage your designers. From recruiting, interviewing, hiring, legality, and money transfers to another country, you will be spending a lot of time with administrative work to keep things running smoothly.
  2. Lack of control: You won’t know if they show up to work or not. And you won’t know if the work you’re assigning will be delivered on time – if at all.
  3. Cultural boundary: If you need a design done to reflect recent trends happening in your country, chances are your designer will have a hard time understanding the requirements due to cultural differences.
  4. Communication: Communication will be a hit and miss. You won’t know for sure if your designer will be responsive or active on the communication channel you decided on.
  5. Internal conflict: If you  have in-house designers, they may be surprised to hear you’re outsourcing some of their work to someone else. They may fear their job is slowly being replaced by someone else.


Where to post the job?

business owner getting ready to buy

So now that you’ve decided you want to outsource graphic design, let’s begin! There’s absolutely no shortage of online directories that claims to help you find the best overseas workers. We’ve used just about every single one of them and know which ones are reliable and trust worthy. So, here’s our list of the best websites to post your job listing.

  1. Yes…we have to shamelessly plug ourselves in here. Penji’s business model is similar to outsourcing your own designer, without the cons. Literally none of the cons. Imagine being able to hire a dedicated graphic designer to work with you for $349/month and not have to deal with any of the cons listed above. Pretty good deal right?
  2. They’re actually “okay” for designers. You’ll find a lot more programmers, data entry, and SEO folks here than anything else. You’ll probably need to look around quite a bit to find a good designer here. But it’s definitely worth a try. You can find pretty decent designers here between $3 – $7/hr.
  3. TONS of graphic designers here. Downside is most of them command higher pay. Expect to pay between $12-24/hr here for good designers.
  4. Similar to Upwork.
  5. Not exactly “outsourcing”. Toptal is more for hiring freelancers, and many of them are from USA, Australia, Canada, Europe etc., and will demand high pay. Toptal isn’t exactly a cheap option, however they’re great if your company absolutely needs the best of the best designers to work with you on a project. You wouldn’t want to hire a designer on Toptal to help do Facebook ads. Not worth the money.


How to write a GOOD job posting

writing job description

Putting the job posting up is the easy part. You’ll soon receive countless applications to weed through. The trick now is how to find the RIGHT designer for you. It all starts with the job posting you created. A vague job posting that list general things you’re looking for will likely attract just about everyone – especially all the bad designer looking for jobs. Below is an example of a BAD job posting.

Example of bad job posting:

Listing title: Need graphic designer

Body: We’re looking for a talented graphic designer to join our team and help us design marketing materials, ads, promotional flyers, websites, and occasionally logos. Designer must be talented, flexible, know how to use a wide variety of programs, and be able to work in a team environment. You will need your own computer and be able to work from home. If this job description fits you, feel free to apply by emailing us at 

So why is this job posting so bad? 

  1. Vague headline
  2. Vague description
  3. Missing job requirements
  4. Not enough information for applicant to determine their own eligibility

Example of good job posting:

Listing title: Ux/Ui designer needed for full time employment

Body: We’re seeking talented graphic designers to work with our existing team to design a better customer experience for our support platform. This is a full time position where you will be working with a team of designers and a project manager. You will be assigned a UX/UI project and be expected to complete deliverables each week and publish results. All work must be completed using Sketch App. This is NOT an hourly work and instead is a salary work. You will receive consistent monthly pay and bonuses based on your performance.

Position: Full Time
Hours: Daytime & Nightime shifts
Schedule: Monday – Saturday
Pay: 1st and 15th of every month


1. Good computer/laptop with sufficient computing power (cannot crash frequently)
2. Solid internet minimum of 25MBS/Download
3. High communication skills (English)


– Indesign
– Illustrator
– Photoshop
– Sketch (bonus)


– Logos
– Websites (must be strong)
– Apps (must be strong)
– UX/UI (must be strong)
– Wireframing
– Sketch App


– Resume
– Portfolio


– Passion for what you do
– A drive to succeed
– Pride in your work
– Willingness to learn new skills


• English
   – Proficient Speaking
   – Proficient Writing

• Graphics & Multimedia
   – Adobe Indesign
   – Graphics Editing
   – Illustrator
   – Logo Design
   – Photoshop
   – Print Design
   – Shirt Design
   – Web page Design


– Must read job description thoroughly and make sure you qualify
– Message us on Skype at
– Send this as an introductory message: “Hi my name is _____ applying for outsource graphic design position. I found you on your application on ____. I’m ___ years old, with ___ years of experience. Here’s a link to my portfolio: https://_________” Please send this exact message and fill in the blanks. Otherwise we will not respond to you.

So why is this job posting good? 

  1. Clear headline
  2. Clear and informative description
  3. Detailed job requirements
  4. More than enough information for applicant to pre-qualify themselves
  5. Even include directions on how to apply to ensure you know the applicant actually read your job posting


How to conduct an interview with your outsourced graphic designer?

2 men sitting at table interviewing

From our experience the best way to conduct an interview after you’ve received several applications is through Skype. Skype is one of the most commonly used application for communicating internationally. Just about every overseas graphic designer you talk to will have Skype. For your interview, have your questions ready. Typically a Skype voice call is preferred over a video call due to connectivity but do what you feel is best in order to get to know your team member.

Here are some common questions we typically ask: 

  1. How long have you been a graphic designer?
  2. How did you get into graphic design?
  3. Tell us a bit about your last job.
  4. What was your last employer like?
  5. Can you show us a design you’re proud of and tell us why?
  6. What are you exceptionally good at designing?
  7. What is your design process?
  8. Do you have a goal or dream in life? What is it?

Set salary or hourly

2 people sitting down outside on park table negotiating

Set salary with room to grow and clear growth chart will be the best way to go if you’re planning to have them grow with you. Hourly will do fine if you need them to work with you on a project for a few months. If you’re proposing full-time set salary, make sure you set the expectations correctly so they understand. Having a full-time committed job is common on the western hemisphere, however it’s less common in places like Vietnam, Philippines, Pakistan, and certain parts of India.

A full time position may require you to have more structure in place such as:

  1. Work schedule
  2. Pay schedule
  3. Sick days
  4. Vacations days (or PTO)
  5. Company guidelines
  6. Time tracking software
  7. And more…

You’ll certainly need to create an employee’s handbook in order to cover all the bases and ensure your team member can succeed while working for you.

Negotiating pay

business owner negotiating pay

Now that you have a qualified designer on your hand what do you pay them? This largely depends what their responsibilities will be, their skill level, and whether it’s full time or hourly. There’s no measurement for how much you should be paying your designer. So, if you’re unsure, you can be bold and ask them what they expect their monthly salary to be. Do be careful, as once you’ve asked, you’re allowing them to set the expectation for you. And it will be difficult to negotiate a salary that’s low in comparison to their proposal. Overall, key the takeaway is be fair with your designer. So, if you don’t pay someone adequately, you can’t expect them to work hard for you.


How to have a successful working relationship

freelancer happy looking at computer

If you plan to outsource graphic design to someone you’ve never met and may never meet, trust is important. So, you need to have the proper infrastructure in place to ensure there’s stability. You can’t just hire someone, give them an assignment, and expect them to be fully committed to you. Everyone desires a level of consistency and predictability in this type of relationship. You wouldn’t like it if they’re inconsistent and unpredictable.

It’s just as vital to infuse company values in everything you do with your overseas members. So, make sure they know they’re working for a company – not just a project. And make sure they feel welcome, accepted, and appreciated. And most importantly, treat them with the same level of respect you treat everyone else.