Freelancer or Design agency?
For clients wondering whether hiring a freelance graphic designer is better than working with a design agency or vice versa, here are a few key benefits of each approach:
Benefits of working with a self-employed graphic designer:
Let’s start with the one benefit you will likely care about most – cost. Generally, Freelancers can offer lower pricing than agencies. Many freelancers work from home, so their overheads are considerably lower than an agency. These savings can get passed down to the client.
Most freelancers either operate on a set hourly rate or will quote a fixed price for the project. So, I would encourage you to request whatever method works best for you. Note that the fixed-price option generally requires you to provide a thorough design brief so the requirements are clear. Find out how to write a killer design brief here.
When you engage the services of a self-employed designer, you have the benefit of direct communication to the artistic decision-maker and producer throughout the project. This may not be the case when working with a larger design company where typically an account manager acts as the main point of contact, relaying messages between design team and you.
There is often a break-down in communication at this point, even with highly experienced account managers. A well-seasoned, client-facing designer can read between the lines of the brief and translate that information into outstanding work.
Unlike design agencies who have fixed work hours and procedures, many freelancers will respond to calls and emails outside of normal business hours. For their key accounts, they may even structure their whole business model around what suits the client.
A key account can mean so much to an independent designer that they are willing to bend and shift as necessary to meet the demands of their client.
One of the principal considerations when choosing someone to assist you with your graphic design project should be that you actually like their work! Usually, a freelancer’s portfolio consists of projects they have worked on alone or at least contributed heavily towards, so you can get a good feel for their strengths and style. With an agency, the portfolio is going to consist of work from multiple designers and other employees, past and present, so it’s more or less luck of the draw as to who will be assigned to your project.
Benefits Of Working With An Agency:
Design companies with many employees are able to offer extended skill sets than their freelancer counterparts. This can be beneficial for clients in need of a wide variety of services. Having said that, it’s certainly possible to find freelancers who will take on the whole project and sub-contract the parts which they are not experts in. Still, for the most part, a larger firm will be able to offer a broader range of in-house services.
Many hands make light work, so it stands to reason that an agency with numerous artists should be able to handle larger workloads than a sole freelancer. This may be a bonus for clients with constant barrage of projects that were due yesterday. A team can take on a larger or multi-faceted project more immediately. Just bear in mind, more than one key account may have similar demands, so the team’s attention is often divided.
When a freelancer decides to take a holiday, becomes ill, or has other personal matters to attend; the client may have to wait until the designer is next available. This isn’t usually a problem with an agency, who can easily transfer a project task when someone is unable to work. A freelancer with good communication skills and contingency plans will normally communicate any planned absences with plenty of notice and offer stand-by solutions for unplanned leave.
It is prudent to note that every freelancer/agency is unique, so there may be exceptions to rules covered in this article. Have I overlooked any important aspects of engaging a graphic design agency or a freelancer? Share your thoughts below.