How To Choose The Right Creative For Your Next Project

By Sally Rogers
Aug. 14, 2020

When you’re building a brand, it can sometimes feel like it’s no sooner that you finish one project and you’re on to the next. Your website gets up (hurrah!), and you’ve got to focus on a new recipe or formulation. You launch an ambassador program, and you’re on to focus your energy on getting your Amazon shop up. This is the fun of brand-building that we live for, right??

It takes a village to build a brand, and sometimes the question of who should be in your village can be as challenging as the build itself. Fortunately, to choose the right Creative for your next project, it really comes down to five steps. If you’re already handling that endless project list by doing one or two of these things, amazing! Maybe try just one other step next time you’re ready to hire: to broaden your impact, set your project up for success, and stay calm throughout the whole process. Breath in, breath out…

Know What Work You Want Done

Scope. The word we all kinda fear but also kinda love once we tune into it. In order to choose the right Creative for your next project, you’ve absolutely got to understand the scope of the work to be done. Even the most brilliant marketing pro is going to want to understand what is expected of him/her, and you’re going to get a better cost estimate if you can share scope details up front. Do not get scared of this one: sit down in front of a blank screen/paper, and try to answer a few questions:

  1. In general terms, what do I need help with? (think: keywords on title, job skills/expertise, what you’ve heard other people say you need)
  2. More specifically, what would that person do daily/weekly? (if you’re totally lost, google the general terms and see what’s in the resulting job descriptions)
  3. What outcomes do you want achieved? By when? (just guess if you have no idea!)

That’s it. Keep it simple. The goal is to get something on paper. You can refine later, but you’ve got to get something out there so you can…


Go On The Hunt

Time to start sleuthing for the right Creative for your next project! This is the time to think about all the business groups, social channels, community organizations, and neighbors you’ve got that might know someone. Don’t forget Facebook groups, Slack channels that are part of affinity organizations you might belong to, and your 3 closest mentors. Everyone should know you’re on the hunt, because people know people and THEY CAN HELP. It’s best to have a 2-3 sentence description of your business + the role/work that you can literally copy/paste as you’re sleuthing. Consider asking key people in your network who they used, if you like some of the work you’re seeing digitally or IRL. Don’t be shy! Ask for referrals and recommendations.

This is also the time to consider posting your need outside your immediate circles. Yes, this takes a bit more effort, but it is absolutely critical to continuing to broaden your impact, bring fresh perspective to your brand, and increase opportunities for people of color. Think about tapping into:

  1. Blacks Who Design: directory of many different black designers
  2. Black-Owned Businesses: detailed directory of so many different black-owned businesses, linked from The Creative Collective
  3. BIPOC Directories near you: for example, Nexus Community Partners in the Twin Cities has a directory of a variety of BIPOC-owned service providers, as does Boston. Do a quick search of an area near you.
  4. Black Freelancers: directory of black freelancers
  5. Support Black Owned: another directory of black-owned businesses

Short List, Longer Calls

Sweet, the referrals and ideas are rolling in… talk about overwhelm! Now what? Time to short list! Spend 10ish minutes looking at each person’s website/social channels/portfolio (depending on the scope of work you’d like them to do). Create a tracker that includes the following for each person:

  1. Name
  2. Website
  3. Initial notes about their work: likes, dislikes
  4. Any questions you might have for them
  5. Notes on pricing if you saw any detail

You can get all kinds of fancy with ranking your potential candidates with numbers (1-5 on aesthetic, 1-5 on client roster, etc.), but honestly keeping it simple at this stage is best!

Run a brief, yet thorough interview process:

  1. Pick 5-8 people you should talk to
  2. Send them a quick note with an easy way for them to schedule 30 minutes (video is best!) with you. Be sure to ask for prior work if you haven’t been able to see any of that in your research. Let them know you’ll also be looking to have them start immediately, that you’ll want to talk to at least one prior client, and that you’d like to discuss pricing on the call. These three things can be dealbreakers to some working relationships, so the sooner you get them out of the way the better!
  3. Using your tracker, jot down a few ‘interview’ questions. What do you want to know about their work, their work style, and how they like to work with clients?

Tune Into Communication

As you interview your Creative candidates, be sure you’re writing notes in your tracker for each person:

  1. What do you like about them?
  2. What are you concerned about?
  3. Are they going to prioritize your work?
  4. What differentiates them?
  5. How are they going to help you achieve the best outcome for your next project?

It’s so important to understand at this point how they communicate, and if you can have an honest conversation with them. Is it easy to understand what they're saying? Do they do what they say they’re going to do (i.e. provide pricing, share a portfolio, etc.)? Are you able to laugh and be serious on the call? It is so important that you’re sussing out camaraderie, collegiality, and human fit during this call more than expertise itself. Seeing how they like to work and whether it will mesh with your style is imperative for the success of your project! Are they good with your texting? Do they prefer weekly calls and check-ins? How often do you want updates? Etc. Remember, you’ve hopefully shortlisted them because you’re already impressed with their work and what they’re capable of!


Set The Project Up For Success

Once you’ve finished your interviews, hopefully there is one rockstar that you want to move forward with! If not, do another round. Try to understand why the process didn’t result in a clear gem, and fix that the next time around.

We won’t get into pricing/contract here, since this blog is really about everything related to choosing the right Creative for your next project, but it is critical you set your project up for success. We love Christie Lee’s Three Tips for Working With Creatives, as she covers the right tools to onboard your Creatives – such a great starting point!

If you’re interested in working with brands, or if you’re a brand looking for your next Creative, let Parsnip help you! It’s free to join, and we’ve got over one thousand better-for-you service providers and brands that use Parsnip to work together!