An observation by a Freelance Designer
Outsourcing to design companies and design firms often means you get taken for a ride and lose your money. Here are a few reasons to use freelance designers. The following is my perception after working at a few different design/media firms.
Here are the reasons in short. Find the extended explanations below.
- Freelance designers are less expensive
- You do not know who a design company employs lately
- Freelance designers tell it to you like it is
- Communication with a freelance designer is direct
- Freelancers don’t juggle your job as much
- Freelance graphic designers will try to impress the heck out of you
This might sound blatantly obvious, but let me explain why it is so important. If you read my article about ” Why do graphic designers like me freelance” you will see that I mention some facts about what percentage of money a worker receives. A freelance designer (or any other kind) might charge you a large sum of money for a job, but I can almost guarantee that a company or firm will charge you at least double what the designer is asking. The simple answer is that the company pays the designer less than his freelance fee, but they also do need to make about 60 to 90% on top of that in order to stay in business.
If you insist on using a company, do a THOROUGH background check and check the current state of their business. I have often seen design companies charging REDICULOUS fees for video editing projects right after they have hired a new designer who has just started editing video. This is blatantly dishonest for a start and means that you pay for the quality the company has provided in the past (which might be years ago), but only receive the services of a new upstart designer. Often these are the same guys that will freelance for you for a whole month for a 3rd of the price of the 2 day video editing job that the design firm is charging you.
Design company managers, or managers in general have too much psychological experience. Yes, you read that right. It might not make sense now, but think about it. A manager can usually win the client over with words of reassurance and little “white” lies. A freelance designer usually tends to tell you the truth about a project or job. They simply don’t have the same amount of smoke and mirrors in their arsenal to use against you.
When you ask a freelancer to do your job, you tell them what you want, they brainstorm, get your opinion and get on with the job. When you work with a design company, they listen to you, maybe take notes, and then explain the concept to the designer. The designer often has to brainstorm in near seclusion and with little feedback. I have seen this backfire many times. I have seen brilliant designers layout an entire magazine in a great style, only to have editorial shoot it down. Then after redo-ing the WHOLE magazine I have seen the client say that they wish to completely change it again… So that means the layout was done 3 times. Simple communication between a graphic designer and a client without the middleman would avoid this situation right from the start.
What I mean by this is that companies often have about 10 balls in the air at any time. And by “balls” I mean jobs from clients. This often means that you are paying for the time spent on other jobs. It is not uncommon for a design firm to charge you for the hours that the job was estimated to take by the designer, yet then only spend a fraction of the time on the job and make the poor designer overwork themselves to get 5 jobs out in the time span of 3 or 4 jobs. Freelance designers are simply less prone to working in this way.
They want their work to look good and get return business, so they will put in the hours they planned to (and often quite a few extra) just so that they can be proud of the product and get a good reputation. After all, word of mouth is still the best advertising you can get. Design firms usually ask monthly fees to maintain websites and software. I have often been aware of design firms who charge a big client more money every month than it takes to pay ALL of the employees that are under management. That means that they can almost run the ENTIRE company on the money they get from one client… often for only 10 hours of work per month; Never mind all the other jobs they juggle.
Trust me. Freelancers don’t want to keep looking for new clients each time they need work. They want to build strong relationships with several core clients and get more than one job from them. In fact, they will do backflips for you if it means a steady flow of work. Freelancers also want you to refer them to your friends and colleagues. So they really are going to go over an above the call of duty to impress you and let you know how much they appreciate the work.