BTS: How to Get Hired to Design for Sunday Social.
Jonathan Malm Author + Entrepreneur
Hi! I’m Jonathan. My business partner, Joe Cavazos, and I run Sunday Social, a company that creates tons of social media graphics for churches. Joe used to handle all of the graphics, but as our output has increased, we’ve had to start hiring guest designers.
Once people caught onto that fact, we started getting requests from loads of people on how to apply to be one of the designers. We don’t hire most of the people who request, and there are some simple reasons for that. Hint: It often has nothing to do with their skill level.
In this article, I’d share some simple behind-the-scenes info for how we choose guest designers on Sunday Social. I hope that this will help you, as a designer, learn more than just about Sunday Social, but also about other companies you might want to work with. Ultimately, we can’t hire everyone, but learning what we look for will help you in the long run if you’re going to work with clients.
Our Usual Process
Joe and I have a Slack channel where we exclusively share potential guest designers with each other. If we see someone whose work we like, we add them to the conversation and point out what we love about them. “This designer does cool hand lettering.” Or, “This designer has been developing a cool style.”
When a project comes up where we think it would be cool to tap into one of those unique assets, we’ll reach out. Then, assuming budget and timelines work for both parties, we hire.
We love to work with the same designers over and over. But there are a few things that would keep us from wanting to work with a designer again:
1. Not meeting the deadline.
2. Lack of communication.
3. Sloppiness or wrong use of typography.
4. If they can’t deliver their signature style – the thing that attracted us to them – in an assigned piece. This happens a lot with contract designers, for some reason.
Save those four things; we look for opportunities to work with designers on a continuing basis assuming budgets and needs stay the same.
Now, this doesn’t give you much hope if you wanted to reach out to us and have us consider you. AKA: Cold-calling us. I’ll tell you, though, that we have worked with folks who have reached out to us. Assuming we like your style, we’re usually eager to work with new designers. But there are a few things that have continually kept us from working with a designer that cold-calls us. They’re simple things, but they’re big things.
What Keeps Us from Working with Designers that Approach Us
Before we start with this, hey, it’s going to get a bit negative. My goal is not to be discouraging. Instead, I’d hope it’s a helpful checklist. If you avoid these three things, you’re actually in a great place. But these are, unfortunately, realities we deal with a lot when people approach us. So it’s prudent to share these things that keep us from wanting to work with designers who cold-call us.
1. Copying Someone Else’s Designs or Style
Joe and I believe in the power of learning through copying. Tutorials and re-creating what others have designed is a great way to learn new techniques. However, that’s for learning, not for adding to your portfolio. And like it or not, most people see your Instagram feed as your portfolio. So if it’s in your IG feed or actually in your portfolio and we’re able to make the connection with something else we’ve seen (and the design community is surprisingly small), it doesn’t look great.
2. Not Representing Your Capabilities on Your Portfolio
One of the unfortunate things about working at a church is that your portfolio is often filled with bulletin designs, #kidmin logos, and other design work you aren’t proud of. If you’re approaching us to design social media assets and you don’t have any great representations of that in your portfolio or on your IG feed, it’s impossible for us to say yes to hiring you. We want to see a series of designs that match what we’re looking for and can also show you can deliver if we assign you something.
Not sure if this turns other companies off, but we’ve dealt with this. If we’ve seen you in groups, and you’ve been overly critical or stirred up drama (especially with one of our other designers or companies we’ve partnered with), we probably aren’t going to hire you. Generally, any bad-mouthing or contentiousness makes us hesitate in hiring you. If you get involved in drama with other companies or people, what will keep you from doing the same with us? Joe and I both love working with our friends. So on the other hand, if you’re friendly, positive, and helpful, we’ll probably like working with you!
That’s it! If you have original and high-quality content, that content is visible on your IG feed or portfolio, and you’re easy to work with, there’s a good chance we’d work with you. When you approach us, be friendly, show us how you think you could add something fresh to our catalog, and point out specific examples. We’re nice folks, and we love to respond to people who have taken the time to send us thoughtful messages.
Guess what! We aren’t the only ones. We know loads of the other media producers in the church media space, and they’re the same way. We’re all working to help the global church be better. Just be thoughtful about the way you reach out, and there’s a good chance you can get hired.