VIRTUAL TEAM MEMBERS ESSENTIAL FOR SMALL DESIGN FIRMS
Today’s graphic designers are expected to wear a lot of hats: project leader, copywriter, web developer, photographer, and of course—designer! And many of us can and DO all of these things. But should we?
When I began my design career as a freelance designer, I would take on all of the responsibilities of a project, justifying that I would be saving my client the cost of hiring additional professionals. What I didn’t account for—or bill for!—were all of the extra hours that I spent fulfilling those additional rolls.
When I founded Mix Creative, I realized the strength in assembling a creative team to divide and conquer creative tasks. Our virtual team members write sharper copy, take more brilliant photos, program more complicated web sites, and more for our clients than I could do alone. The result? More time for me, as creative director, to focus on the design. Plus, the overall product is more polished and effective, and completed faster than I could do myself.
So who should be on your creative team? It depends on the type of work that you do, but here’s a starter list:
- Copywriter. Good copy can inform and inspire a design approach and have a powerful influence on target audiences. My favorite copywriter always kicks off a project in a collaborative fashion, brainstorming with me to come up with a few concepts to develop further. Working with a copywriter is particularly valuable on website projects—they collect information, distill important points, and assemble the text for the entire site—a task that is often daunting to clients.
- Editor. It’s a truism for graphic designers that the longer you look at a design, the less you see it. That’s where a good editor comes in. Bringing a fresh pair of eyes and armed with multiple style manuals, she’ll make sure your text maintains a consistent style and fix grammatical and stylistic errors.
- Photographer. A good photographer helps a designer’s vision become reality, showcases a client’s products and services, and provides original brand images with lasting value for the client.
- Web developer. Today’s developers have a colossal task of keeping up with rapidly changing programming languages, browsers, and platforms. But that’s just the start. An ideal web developer also has great communication and organizational skills, an eye for typography and design, and the ability to problem solve and innovate. I’m extremely lucky to have found one that’s all of the above—our web developer takes our design concepts and finds a way to reproduce (and enhance) them for the web.
- Printer. A good printer is an ally for your firm, helping you to brainstorm the right papers, finishes, binding methods and distribution to fit a client’s budget. I work with several different types of printers, each of which specializes in types of projects I encounter frequently: short-run inexpensive printing, long-run press printing, and signage/miscellaneous projects.
- Marketing professional. At Mix Creative, we’re comfortable implementing a marketing strategy that fits the needs of 90% of our clients. For the other 10%, we’re happy to bring on a marketing whiz to help us create client-specific strategies and implement market research as needed.
Other potential team members to consider include:
- Video production. In the age of YouTube, a video production artist can make a client’s video stand out with a higher level of professional polish and compelling motion graphics.
- Public relations. A good publicist takes the visual campaign a step further and innovates means of bringing your client into the public arena.
- Social media expert. For clients that are serious about making a name for themselves via social media, an experience social media expert can be a valuable team member in executing your overall marketing strategy.
It took years to assemble a virtual creative team that I work well with, can meet deadlines, communicates well, and provides high-quality work. I’ve found the most success in networking and asking for referrals from trusted colleagues. Never hurts to say “yes” to that once in a while request for an informational interview, either!