7 Cost-Effective Graphic Design Services For Small Business

There are quite a few graphic design services or solutions available to small businesses that don’t have the budget or need to hire a full-time designer.

While significantly cheaper than a full-time employee, there are a few good practices to follow to get the best quality designs for the price you’re paying.

  • Write a detailed design brief

A design brief is a document that explains what you, the client, want the designer to do in a particular project.

A good design brief contains a lot of detail regarding your vision for the project, what you like and don’t like, examples of similar work etc.

This does require a bit more work on your end, but it will hugely speed up the design process since the graphic designer won’t have to do as much guesswork and will understand your vision more quickly.

Not only that, but you’ll save a lot of money on revisions as well.

  • Don’t forget you’re also paying for creativity

As part of their fee, a graphic design service must also provide creativity.

This means they’ll fill in the holes in your design brief or vision, propose ideas you hadn’t thought of before or challenge some of your existing ones.

In some cases, the service might even propose a completely different solution to your design needs, an angle you hadn’t imagined yet.

Bad graphic designers will take your design brief very literally. The end result will not have any “magic” and simply won’t stand out as beautiful and attractive.

  • It can take many revisions to flesh out your vision and design language

No matter how much detail you put in a design brief, or how creative a graphic designer is, it can sometimes take a lot of time to fully solve the graphic needs of your small business.

This is especially true when you have complex requirements such illustrations, double meaning logos, brand guidelines etc. Or if you’re very particular about the design work you want to be done.

  • If you’re looking for freelancers, focus on ones with a style you like

If you’ve decided to meet your design needs by going the freelancer route, then try to find ones that have a design style that’s close to what you want in your project.

Most designers can work outside their usual style, but they may not be as creative or daring. They are out of their element, so they’ll be a bit more cautious and reserved and try to do things “by the book” as it were. It might also take them longer to create their designs.

By comparison, a designer that works within his own style is much more comfortable taking risks and playing around with the concepts. They will understand what you want to do much more quickly, can create their designs much faster and they’ll be of higher quality.

  • Before hiring the freelancer, test them out first

A freelancer’s portfolio will always be filled with their best work, so it’s not 100% representative of the kind of results you’ll receive.

As such, instead of directly hiring one freelancer, consider creating a shortlist of 2-3, and give them a small, easy to complete design task to see how they perform.

Things you measure as part of the test are:

  • How well the two of you communicate.
  • The quality of the work.
  • How responsive they are to feedback.
  • How quickly they deliver projects.
  • Pricing design work too cheaply will attract only plagiarists and low quality designers

Design work can be fairly cheap if you’re looking for very basic charts, images and graphics for online ads or making a quick and dirty brochure. Chances are however that the work you get won’t be original, and instead just reused assets the graphic designer used on many other projects.

This isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes you just need a design that looks beautiful, and can put it together quickly. Originality might not even be a concern to you.

However, if you need more complex work such as a logo or quality website design, be prepared to pay more in order to get truly original design work.

If your price is too low, the graphic designer will either turn you down, or be too demotivated to put in quality work.

7 best graphic design solutions and services for small businesses

Kimp.io

Kimp.io is a subscription graphic design service, where you pay a monthly fee and the team over at Kimp will fulfill any graphic design requests whenever you need them, on demand.

They have a single plan that costs $389 per month, and will provide you with the following benefits:

  • 7 day free trial (no payment)
  • Cancel any time, no long term contracts and cancellation fees.
  • Unlimited design requests and unlimited revisions.
  • Quick turnarounds, you can expect to receive 2-3 designs per business day.
  • Actual, live human support.
  • Free stock photos.
  • Designs for unlimited brands.
  • No hidden fees. Just the monthly subscription bill and that’s it.

Kimp is also full service, meaning it will complete design work such as: infographics, icons, logos, email signatures, business cards, products mock-ups and tons more.

Kimp 7 Day Free Trial

Kimp FAQ

Penji.co

Penji is another subscription full-service graphic design solution.

Just like Kimp, they offer the same on demand model, where you can request unlimited graphic designs and revisions.

So what are the differences between Penji and Kimp?

  • Cancel any time, no long term contracts and cancellation fees.
  • Penji has multiple pricing tiers: $399 / $499 / $899 vs Kimp with it’s flat, $389 per month.
  • Penji’s basic plan gives you access to only 1 designer. Kimp gives access to a team of 3 designers.
  • Penji produces more designs for merchandise (hoodies, mugs, t-shirts). Kimp is limited to T-shirts.
  • Penji offers a 15 day money back guarantee (you have to pay first). Kimp has a 7 day free trial (no payment necessary).
  • Penji stores your files in their own dashboard. Kimp uses Google Drive, and can result in clutter sometimes.

Penji 15 day money back guarantee

Penji FAQ

Manypixels.co

Manypixels.co is the 3rd subscription graphic design service.

Just like Kimp and Penji, Manypixels also offers an on-demand graphic design service with unlimited graphic design requests and revisions.

We’ll use Kimp as the comparison, so you can figure out if Manypixels works for you.

Manypixels vs Kimp

  • Cancel any time, no long term contracts and cancellation fees.
  • Manypixels has 2 pricing tiers: $399 / $549 vs Kimp with it’s flat, $389 per month.
  • Manypixels allows you to design logos only on the $549 plan. With Kimp, you can do them on the $389 one.
  • Manypixels’ $549 plan lets you do light web design and landing pages.  Kimp does not offer these services at all.
  • Manypixels’ $549 plan lets you create 2-3 second GIFs / animations. Kimp does not offer these services at all.
  • Manypixels offers 1 designer only, vs Kimp which offers a team of 3 designers. With Manypixels, you can however hire more designers.
  • Manypixels offers a 14 day money back guarantee (you have to pay first). Kimp has a 7 day free trial (no payment necessary).

Manypixels 14 day money back guarantee

Graphicszoo

Graphicszoo is the fourth and final subscription graphic design service included in this list.

As is standard by now, they too offer on-demand graphic design service with unlimited graphic design requests and revisions.

Graphicszoo vs Kimp:

  • Cancel any time, no long term contracts and cancellation fees.
  • Graphicszoo has 3 plans: $349 / $449 / $849 vs Kimp with it’s flat, $389 per month.
  • Graphicszoo allows you to create logos on the $349 plan, as does Kimp on its $389 plan.
  • Graphicszoo’s $449 plan lets you do complex website designs for blogs, e-commerce sites, email newsletters and more.  Kimp does not offer these services at all.
  • Graphicszoo offers 1 designer only, vs Kimp which offers a team of 3 designers. With Graphicszoo, you can however hire more designers.
  • Graphicszoo offers a 14 day money back guarantee (you have to pay first). Kimp has a 7 day free trial (no payment necessary).

Graphicszoo 14 day money back guarantee

Toptal – top notch quality freelancers

Toptal is a very high-quality freelance hiring website.

Compared to other freelance hiring sites, such as Freelancer.com or Fiverr.com, Toptal is very selective about the people it brings into the platform.

To join Toptal, a freelancer must go through a very lengthy hiring process, where they present a resume, pass through multiple interviews, skill tests, etc. According to Toptal, they hire only 3% of the total applicants they receive each year.

Because of this, freelancers on Toptal are far more skilled and professional than on other freelance websites.

Pro’s of hiring freelancer on Toptal:

  • High quality, vetted freelancers.
  • A risk-free 2 week trial period. You won’t be billed if you don’t like your assigned freelancer, and can choose another one.
  • You won’t waste time with the trial-and-error process of finding a good freelancer.

Con’s of hiring freelancers through Toptal

  • The freelancers are of higher quality, but are also higher-priced.

Hire through Toptal

Fiverr – accessibly priced freelancers

When Fiverr first appeared on the market, they branded themselves as the “5 dollar freelance website”, where every service would cost 5$.

It’s been 10 years since then, and Fiverr had to do some minor adjustments to it’s pricing models, but it is still the cheapest freelancer hiring website.

Overall, Fiverr is great for small businesses that require quick and simple design work.

That being said, it’s quite possible to get high quality design work on Fiverr as well. It will however require more time to find and test freelancers.

Pro’s of hiring freelancer on Fiverr:

  • Many freelancers to choose from, all with reviews of their quality.
  • Simple design work can be done very cheaply.

Con’s of hiring freelancer from Fiverr:

  • Quality may not always be the best.
  • Can take some time to find a freelancer you like.

Hire through Fiverr.

99designs – open a contest and choose from tens of submitted designs

Just like Fiverr or Toptal, 99designs also lets you choose which freelancer you can work with.

However, it also offers a unique feature: create a contest out of your design project, have freelancers submit their designs and choose the winner.

This feature allows small businesses to get a large number of variations for their project, choose from a pool of designs, and get new ideas on how to adjust their project.

Pro’s of using 99designs:

  • Choose to work directly with a particular freelancer
  • Set up contests and choose from multiple designs.

Con’s of using 99designs:

  • Many designers reuse assets to participate in contests.

Hire through 99designs.

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