In-House, Agency, or Freelance?

Sometimes when starting a design project the biggest question an organization haves will be who they should get to design the project for them. This answer can vary greatly depending on the company, region, and project type. Below is a helpful chart to help your organization decide what direction to go when hiring a designer, or design team for your next project.

There are three common kinds of design hires: An in-house designer, a design or marketing agency, and a freelance designer.

In-House

A graphic designer employed by your organization directly

Can easily maintain an in depth knowledge of your company’s needs and design standards

Good for an organization with a regular flow of design projects, but doesn’t work well if your organization doesn’t have enough work to keep them busy

Works on your designs and only your designs (unless they choose to work on their own time as a freelance designer)

Can easily switch to an “emergency” project when needed

Allows for the most involvement in the creative process

May need training, but provides the most opportunity for them to specialize in your industry knowledge

Never have to worry about what kind of ownership you will have with the final project or receiving the final deliverables

A good option in the long term to keep costs down

Agency

Another organization which utilizes their team of creatives to create projects for you

Has a large variety of resources available, often including their own writers and marketers who will work with your design team

Good for large projects such as full brand redesigns and national advertising campaigns

Often works with multiple clients at once

May have difficulty fitting you into an existing schedule for “emergencies”

Involvement of the client varies, often agencies prefer to present the final project rather than have the client working with them throughout the initial design process

Will never need training, should research your company and industry on their own

Should have well documented contracts in place for project ownership and deliverables

More expensive, but provides more resources

Freelance

An individual who is self-employed

Flexible and fast moving, often maintains a variety of skills to diversity their own income but can also specialize in a specific field

Good for an organization with one-off projects and those who don’t have enough work for a full time graphic designer

Often works with multiple clients at once

May have difficulty fitting you into an existing schedule for “emergencies”

Often allows for a lot of involvement in the creative process

Will never need training, should research your company and industry on their own

May not have a contact process in place, international freelancers can be difficult to receive deliverables from.

Pricing varies dependent on the freelancer’s experience, but often mid-range

 

Consider an inhouse designer if you:

  • Have frequent need for a designer

  • Work in a highly specialized field

  • Often have last-minute changes

  • Your project will require a lot of long-term maintenance (i.e. seasonal catalogs)

Consider hiring an agency if you:

  • Are working on a large campaign or project

  • Your industry is easy to learn

  • Your organization is larger but cannot perform this task inhouse

Consider hiring a freelance designer if you:

  • Have a tight budget

  • Are working on a smaller-scale project

  • Want to take over the maintenance of the project once it is designed (i.e. a website)

  • Your organization is fairly small