hire freelancers2Reaching out to friends and colleagues for creative resource recommendations is a great starting point for any agency search, whether you’re a start up or not. But unlike larger, more established companies, startups don’t often have the resources to hire an agency, so a friend’s positive recommendation might very well be the only assessment criteria.

Even if you don’t yet have the need or resources to use our regular agency selection process, here are five questions to help you make a more informed decision about working with a potential creative partner.

1. Do they come well recommended?
o What did the recommender like about them?
o Did they do a similar project for the person who recommended them to you?
o Why does the recommender think that they would be a good resource for you?

2. Do you like their portfolio?
o Do they have a portfolio?
o Is their portfolio relevant to your project?

3. Can they tell you how long you should expect your project to take?
Most freelancers work on an hourly basis. Based on their past experience they should be able to help you get a sense for not only how much the total project will cost but when you should expect to have your deliverable.

4. Do you think you could have a good working relationship?
The best work comes from a collaborative relationship. That means you have to hold up your end too! There’s a saying that there are two possible reasons for bad creative results: Bad talent and bad clients.

5. Do they have experience working with startups?
Believe it or not, startups can be challenging clients for creatives because the company doesn’t typically have anyone with marketing or even design experience on their team. This means that on the client side there is little understanding of the process and a lack of understanding of how to give creative direction.

The need to drive the entire process and educate the client makes it harder for the creative so it’s best for everyone if they’ve herded some other startup cats before you.

Bonus advice: Once you’re working with someone, there is a best practices way to provide direction to creatives. It is most useful to everyone involved if you frame your request in terms of the problem that you’d like him or her to solve for you. For example: Instead of asking “Can you change it to blue?” Do say something like “It feels kind of flat and not as vibrant as I’d like. Can you do something to make it feel more energized?”

This way you’re leveraging their talent and expertise to come up with solutions you might never think of. Remember, there’s a reason why they’re a creative professional and you are not!