Graphic Design on a Budget of Less than $200

Save Money Highway SignWorking with a graphic designer can take your marketing materials from looking like you struggled to pull them together yourself, to professional beacons of marketing for your business.

But I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend!

Duly noted.

However, there are some ways to give your materials a boost while spending less than $200.

Look for small projects that will have impact.

Start a list of bite sized marketing projects that you could use help with.  For example,

  • Enewsletter banner image
  • Newsletter Opt-In area on your website
  • Buttons for e-newsletters or website pages – such as “Click Here”, “Don’t Miss Out!”, “Free”, “Contact Us”
  • Handouts for an upcoming event
  • Facebook profile image
  • Twitter background

For example, one client paid an extra hour for their web developer to create an enewsletter banner that matched their new website.  It ties the website and enewsletter together really nicely.  Once we used the official colour scheme throughout the rest of the enewsletter it looks great.

Know Where to Look

The key is to find good talent for a fair price.

In this type of budget scenario it’s unlikely an established advertising agency is going to want your 2 hours of work.  Instead you are looking for someone who freelances full or part-time, may or may not be found via online sites, or a small business that is used to small graphic design projects like a print shop.

Referrals from business colleagues are also good.  If you see marketing that you like, call up that business – even if you don’t know them – and ask them who they use and how they found the rates.

When searching, look for someone who is somewhat established.  Ideally you want to find a graphic designer who can not only help you out this time, but again in the future.

Recently a client produced a t-shirt to promote one of their programs.  Having a graphic designer spend an hour coming up with 6 different designs was a complete home run.  The final t-shirt looks professional and has been well received.  In this case we worked with a local print shop found through a referral.

Be Specific in All Things

Provide specific instructions about what you want.

What items do you need?  Where will they go?  Provide details on what colours & fonts should be used.  When do you need them by?

Give examples – including the specific website address – of graphic images and web properties that resemble what you’re looking for. You can find stock images at several locations to help give artists ideas of what you have in mind, including Fotolia, Shutterstock, and IStockPhoto.

Don’t forget to be specific about timelines and your budget.  Specifically ask if they can do the job within these parameters.  Once there is an agreement, be sure to confirm it by email so it is documented.

In some instances, depending on the scope and scale of the project, the artist may deliver a counter offer, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it. Consider other options before going beyond your original budget.  If the designer is exceptionally talented, let them know you’ll keep them in mind for bigger projects in the future.

Recognize the Risks**

Anytime you try to match expectations to a small budget it’s a bit of a gamble.  Recognize that on a low budget, you may not get amazing design work.

Being on a tight budget, you’re aiming for good design, not the best design. This is why it is so important to outline your expectations and provide specific information and examples beforehand.

This is also going to work a lot better if you already have a logo and defined colours, fonts and look for your business.

Insist on Original File Copies

You will need at least 2 versions of the artwork files.

One will be a jpg or pdf version of the file that you should be able to open and use in a variety of ways.

The other version you want is the original artwork file which you will be unable to view unless you have invested in design software.  These are more likely to have an .ai or .eps extension.  You want these files so that in the future if you use a different designer they can access these files.

Working with a graphic designer can really add a bit of pop and sizzle to your marketing materials.  Getting help to brush up on specific areas, will help you maintain your marketing appeal.  Just remember, that every few years you will need to invest in bigger projects like branding updates and your website.


This advice can be applied to big projects like a logo or website – but for larger projects like these the costs will definitely be higher.

You may also want to check out these blogs…

5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Website Developer!

Tips to Help You Get the Website You Need


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