This article was contributed by Sohail Rupani.
The business world has shifted so much that a team is not confined to a physical office space anymore. Your business can run with the collaboration of a talent pool based all over the globe.
Platforms such as Upwork make it easier to find the right talent. A recent study reported that 53 million Americans are now working as freelancers. It makes 34 percent of America’s entire workforce.
IBIS World reports that there are 162,578 employed Freelance Graphic Designers in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hourly wage of such professionals is $25.14.
This segment contributes $13 billion to the economy through freelance work alone. Another study by McKinsey and Company reported that there are 68 million freelancers in the US and most of this lot contains people who love to do freelance gigs for a side income.
On the other hand, the merits of working with a well-reputed design agency can’t be overlooked. A good agency takes your project as their project and puts in all possible efforts to improve your bottom line. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Specialized Design Agencies employ 137,220 designers on an annual wage of $61,360.
However, Fast Company believes that we are in the Generation Flux, which runs on the motto that work can’t be described in the old ways.
“What defines GenFlux is a mindset that embraces instability that tolerates–and even enjoys–recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions.” It’s a mindset that’s shared by people who choose to pursue a self-driven creative career.
How can freelancers or agencies fit in the GenFlux? Let’s find out the pros and cons:
Benefits of hiring freelancers:
Often, the reason behind choosing freelancers is to have a person who is qualified in a certain skill. Want to hire freelance graphic designers for your brand that deals with financial institutions? Log on and find freelancers who can do the job through targeted queries.
There are 2.8 million freelance business owners in the US right now. A creative consultant who hires a small team of designers to work on projects on a freelance basis is identified as a freelance business owner.
When you are paying a freelancer only for the work they put in, measured by hours, it greatly reduces the cost. Freelancers charge fewer overheads compared to a creative agency. That’s one of the major reasons to hire a freelance graphic designer.
Keep in mind that you get what you pay for in this case since this agreement is made before work begins. This method is beneficial for both the employer and freelancer.
A good thing about working with freelance graphic designers is that you don’t have to worry about the logistics. These people are specialized professionals who fix their hours of work according to your needs. Design agencies, on the other hand, run on official work hours. You may feel like you are badgering an agency rep for assistance at an ungodly hour.
Freelancers will be up for duty at a time of your choice, providing flexibility in work. By 2020, more than 40 percent of America’s workforce will switch to independent work. It means that 10 million people will work independently for more than half of their usual income.
Cons of hiring freelance graphic designers:
You have a specific job in mind when you approach a freelancer. You can’t add new things to this mix when they are busy with your task.
Wherever unexpected changes appear, the freelance graphic designer might not be able to comply with your needs, or may not have the skill to deal with the issue. In a recent survey, Contently reported that 35 percent of freelancers think that getting a job is their biggest daily obstacle.
You won’t get the services of a multi-disciplinary creative agency that can write copy, create ideas and present mockups according to your last minute requirements. Inconsistency is a factor that may keep your customers away from you.
This may be one of the biggest disadvantages of working with freelance graphic designers. They might disappear without prior notice. When working with freelancers, you may face unwanted disruptions like an illness, lack of punctuality, the difference in time zones, etc.
On the other hand, working with a professional agency eliminates this fear that the person in charge of your task can disappear without notice.
Take due diligence when choosing your freelancer.
The freelancers you decide to work with may be complete strangers. You may have zero knowledge about their track record. Most creatives have a portfolio, but it doesn’t help much when the person lives miles away and communicates with you via the internet or phone.
A startup even came up with a confusing idea where creatives were asked to work for clients for free. It received a lot of hate from professionals who didn’t like the idea of selling themselves cheap just to support a wacky business idea.
Building a successful working relationship with your freelancer in a matter of days can also be challenging. He may be unaware of your industry’s trends, latest software updates and may work according to his perception of your business.
Benefits of hiring a design agency:
It’s a team
The biggest advantage of working with a design agency is that you have a team of professionals at your disposal.
Design agencies also invest in the best software backed up with solid security. With a big team of creative professionals, it is easier to take care of all your needs. Your entire project is delivered to you by one team and is, therefore, more polished and consistent. Hiring several freelancers doesn’t give you this consistency.
Agencies have years of experience because they have worked with known brands across the industry. Agencies have now shifted from the commission to hourly pricing models – a method that was introduced in 1990.
According to a survey, 91 percent proposals are based on hourly rates. It gives a competitive advantage over others and increases the efficiency of personnel.
Brad Jakeman, President of Pepsico, believes that a creative agency can deal with his brand more effectively. In his interview with Adage, he said that it was once enough to work on four exceptional pieces of content in a year and release them. Today, that number has risen to 4,000, and all of it needs to go live every day.
Freelance graphic designers can only be reached personally on their phones and may become inactive when they are away. Some even take frequent holidays because of the stress caused by the unending demands of clients round the clock.
Agencies invest in their customer service to be able to deliver quality to their clients with punctuality 24/7. User feedback patterns are used by most design agencies to deliver consistent support to their teams. More important, agencies always have someone to take care of the work for you.
Drawbacks of hiring a design agency:
First and foremost, design agency costs are a way too high when you are looking to complete a single project only. Working with an agency compared to a freelancer is expensive. The “TV focus, combined with agencies’ personnel-heavy approach to client service, limits their ability to invest in new channels and tools they can offer customers.”
Adage, an Ad Agency, also suggests that agencies need to behave like consultants if they want to evolve. Omnicom created Hearts & Science, a digital agency which proceeded to acquire Procter & Gamble and AT&T as their customers.
This is a great distinguisher between design agencies and freelance graphic designers. A freelancer will be up to the task while sitting miles away from you, but often, an agency needs to be near where you run a business.
Some agencies make this easy by arranging Google Hangouts and Skype sessions, but mostly it is the location factor that becomes a hurdle when choosing an agency. Everything depends on your project and your needs, and you may choose to compromise on location.
Are you an agency owner? Here are 10 things to avoid when running a professional agency.
The choice depends on your business project and its requirements. A business owner has four options when he or she needs to get work done:
- Hire experts to work in-house
- Hire a freelancer or a team of specialized freelancers
- Hire a reputed agency
- Do it yourself
The fourth option is off the list because it is not humanly possible for a business owner to do everything by themselves. As for the rest of the options, your business project is the real marker of the kind of service you should acquire.
Chase Jarvis, a creative professional who started licensing his photos for $500 as a freelancer, proceeded to create an agency and an academy of his own after immense success.
Whether you decide to choose a freelancer or an agency, make sure that you know who you’re hiring. Do you prefer freelancers or agencies for your business and why? Let us know in the comments below.
Author Bio: Sohail Rupani is a senior digital marketing strategist at Appiskey, a Florida based Mobile App Development Company specializes in iOS and Android game development. Follow @sohailrupani for more updates.