In-house designer, freelancer or agency? Who to hire

Does the uncertainty and ever-changing nature of freelancing produce designers with sharper, more adaptable skills? Or does the social, fast-paced, and ordered workflow of an agency create more design superstars? In my nearly 10 years as an Art Director, I’ve seen a few businesses pondering if they should hire a freelancer or get in-house. Or even go big and hire an agency.

No matter which you choose to hire, chances are that you’ll still have an equally good final product with any of the three options. It all depends on which professional matches your brand’s vision; their work should speak for themselves.

So, which one is best hire for your company? An in-house designer or an outsourced one? For agency and in-house designers, having a job these days is almost as uncertain as freelancing. In fact, it can be even more uncertain. However, uncertainty itself can create a more stimulating creative environment by making you feel challenged to perform well under pressure. But the opposite can also happen; leaving you to collapse under that pressure and resulting in disappointment all around.

Lets take a look at some of the benefits of hiring an in-house designer, freelancer, or design agency. Then you’ll have a better idea of what would work best for your business. And if you’re looking to get into design, find out why you should here.

Should you hire a freelance designer?

Should you hire a freelance designer?

Freelancers do have their advantages for companies who are looking for infrequent design work. They’re known for their flexibility and working with one individual has its advantages over dealing with a team of people. However, freelancers don’t come cheap (as well they shouldn’t). So, if a company is asking a freelance designer to do work on a regular basis, than perhaps they should re-think their strategy.

Pros: Freelancers are a great hire for startups and short-term projects because they charge per day. They’ll work cooperatively with you because they’re concerned about their reputation.

Cons: There’s less commitment in this relationship, and since they work alone, your project may be affected if something goes wrong on the their end.

Should you hire an in-house designer?

Should you hire an in-house designer?

An in-house designer benefits a company by understanding that company’s goals and brand vision. They’ll have a better knowledge of your customer or product and be able to put this at the forefront of their designs. Thus adding value and resulting in quick turnarounds. The company also has more control over the designs; watching them develop throughout the process and allowing for changes to be made quickly. It can get very time consuming for clients to explain to a design agency or freelancer what they’re looking for.

Pros: Internal designers are the most cost-effective option if you require full-time designers. They’re within easier reach and also understand your company and products better.

Cons: Once they pass their probation and hire them full-time, it’ll be difficult to replace them. And working on one brand, they may lose interest over time and you may have to keep paying them to keep them motivated.

Or a design agency?

Should you hire a design agency?

Some clients decide to just hire a design agency, but this process can be long, laborious and costly. From the initial brief to the final design can take several meetings to complete. And the Creative Director that you initially met with may not necessarily work on your designs. Although, you can rarely expect nasty surprises when you hire an agency and they have big teams of industry specialists to deliver high-class designs. The account manager will always be available to help and answer your questions, and they’ll guarantee minimum fuss. However, with freelancers it’s just the one individual to communicate with. So you know they’ll be working on your designs and giving you updates direct throughout the process.

Pros: They have a team of professionals on the ready and are highly qualified to design for you.

Cons: For the level of quality, expect to pay for an agency’s services at premium prices. And every change you make after signing the brief may lead to more expenses.

Still not sure which is best to hire? Then approach professionals from the three possible options and decide based on their quotes, timeframes, and body of work. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

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