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When to Hire a Freelance Graphic Designer vs. Agency

May 2, 2023

by Anna Peck

Senior SEO Specialist at Clutch.co

When it comes to graphic design services, should businesses onboard freelance support or focus on having a graphic design agency tackle the work? Learn the pros and cons to help your business make the right decision for you.

When you think about a popular brand, a visual component likely comes to mind – whether it is a social media campaign, logo design, or brand colors. All of that is due to expert graphic design services.

Graphic design is more than creating attractive visuals - it can help businesses communicate key messages, establish brand identity, develop a competitive edge, and leave a lasting first impression on potential clients.

Professional graphic designers can do the following for your business:

  • Create a visual story for your business by designing branding collateral like logos, business cards, templates, etc.
  • Help with advertising and web design work that needs design support
  • Assist with media and digital components needed for marketing strategies

Now that your team has learned the importance of having close-knit graphic design services, the next challenge comes with whether to hire for a freelance basis or outsource the work to a larger graphic design agency. The answer depends on what your company needs in a design partner.

freelance graphic designer vs. graphic design agency

Find the perfect graphic design partner for your next design project.

Freelance Graphic Designer

What is a Freelance Graphic Designer?

A graphic design freelancer is an independent graphic designer that doesn’t work for one organization or startup. Freelancers can work on multiple design projects at once for multiple clients – the choice is up to them.

They are self-employed.

Freelance graphic designers are in control of their own rates, scouting for graphic design jobs on platforms like UpWork, setting their work hours, and writing their own contracts.

Additional Reading: ‘Graphic Design Glossary: 78 Essential Terms’

5 Benefits of Hiring a Freelance Graphic Designer

A graphic design freelancer can deliver a new outlook to your team. Explore the benefits of hiring a freelance graphic designer:

  1. Cost-effective
  2. Communication
  3. Optimizes your in-house workforce
  4. Motivated work ethic
  5. Fresh perspective



Freelancers charge lower rates than other agencies or companies since they have lower overhead costs.

Since freelancers are individual contributors, there aren’t as many costs associated with their services.

If your company is working with a tight budget, a freelance graphic designer might be the best option.

Additional Reading: ‘How to Make a Custom Graphic Design Budget [With Template]



Any graphic designer needs to understand a company’s vision and expectations to ensure that they are portraying the right mission or message in a new design.

With freelance graphic designers, there are no middlemen or extra parties involved. You can directly communicate your vision one-on-one, which can streamline your workflow and prevent any miscommunication.

It is important to note that with any engagement, communication ground rules should be put in place to save time.


Optimize Your In-House Workforce

A freelance graphic designer is a support for your team - not a new hire. You can hire them for a project that lasts two weeks or five months. Doesn’t matter for how long, but the expectation is that once the contract is over, the relationship is completed. Unless you decide to work with them in the future.


Motivated Work Ethic

Freelancers are highly motivated to get the job done.

The faster they work on a new design, the more jobs they accomplish and the more money they make. Quality is also a factor here.

If a client is satisfied with their performance, they will likely become a repeat customer. Repeat customers can lead to more referrals and benefits for a freelance graphic designer.


Fresh Perspective

A freelance graphic designer is a fresh face for your company. Their feedback can provide a more creative outlook and help your team step outside of older patterns.

Thinking outside of the box can help your company grow.

3 Challenges of Hiring a Freelance Graphic Designer

If your marketing team chooses to onboard a graphic design freelancer, consider the potential challenges.

  1. Time investment
  2. Can’t integrate into company culture
  3. Likely lack of experience


Time Investment

A freelance graphic designer works on their own schedule. While your project has a set deadline, so do the other projects that a freelancer might be working on for another company.

Delivery time for your deliverable could be a little slower with that, and due to the flexible working hours a freelancer has.

Freelance graphic designers have their hands full at times - so your project might fall to the back burner if they have other focuses.


Can’t Integrate into Company Culture

Your graphic design freelancer isn’t coming into the office – they might not even be in the same country as you.

Working with a freelance graphic designer makes it harder to teach them your company’s mission, values, and brand identity. Being isolated from the work environment can facilitate challenges to creative work. For example, if the task is to design marketing materials that fit the office’s design, it might be hard to get a feel of it from a few photos.

You’re also hiring someone that might have a different personality or attitude than someone who you would hire internally.

Your team likely won’t interact with your graphic design freelancer often – it’s up to you whether that is a dealbreaker.

Additional Reading: 'Graphic Design Glossary'

Likely Lack of Experience

Since freelance graphic designers work independently, there is no one looking through their work or setting them up for career advancement. A freelance designer could be just starting out with just a few other projects under their belt.

While a fresh perspective is nice, it could be tricky when your team needs help with their website’s UX design and your freelancer isn’t knowledgeable in that skill, your team will have to look elsewhere. There is also a severe lack of backup help when working in a freelance relationship.

Graphic Design Agency

What is a Graphic Design Agency?

A graphic design agency helps businesses create visual communication materials with a team of skilled designers that have different focuses.

Design agencies work to build long-term relationships with their clients by identifying business objectives and strategies.

5 Benefits of Hiring a Graphic Design Agency

Working with a graphic design agency has endless benefits.

  1. Efficiency & productivity
  2. Team bandwidth
  3. High-quality & strategic design services
  4. Saves time and speed
  5. Opportunity to bring more full design services


Efficiency & Productivity

While all graphic design projects have a different level of creativity, their workflow can be very similar. Graphic design agencies have plans and the design skills to make the most streamlined creative work.

All teams have a structure for creation, design iterations, feedback, and delivery. They operate like a well-oiled machine.

The most reputable graphic design agencies know what they’re doing, meaning that your project should be completed in an efficient manner.


Team Bandwidth

With an outsourced graphic design agency, your team can focus on other projects in the marketing realm. Your in-house designer can also gain much-needed support from professionals.

Your design needs will be less of a concern if a trusted graphic design agency is on your payroll.


High-Quality & Strategic Design Services

Graphic design agencies have experience working with clients in various industries, meaning they have a vast portfolio of work to showcase to potential clients. Along with this, graphic design agencies have a reputation to uphold by maintaining consistent high-quality services across all of their projects, meaning they are fit to tackle complex or small design projects for clients.

You should be able to see all of this in action for your company when working with a graphic design agency.


Saves Time & Speed

A professional graphic design agency knows what they are doing - because of this, they will save you time with their efficient work.

If there are no roadblocks, your graphic design work can be finished in a timely manner, making it available for your audience even quicker.


Opportunity for More Design Support

Graphic design agencies can support a myriad of design-related tasks. Along with providing assistance with marketing materials, they can help with website design and other design tasks that need extra input. There might be a slight cost increase, but it is a lot cheaper than outsourcing another agency or resource.

Having a diverse skillset is one benefit of working with a graphic design agency.

3 Challenges of Hiring a Graphic Design Agency

Along with benefits, there are a few challenges when it comes to working with a graphic design agency.

  1. Communication
  2. Cost
  3. Management



When hiring a graphic design agency or any outsourced partner, communication mainly goes between the creative director or lead – not the actual lead designer. Some valuable messages can get lost if there are multiple stakeholders involved.

Make sure that there are open communication channels with all parties to avoid any issues that might occur.



A major disadvantage of hiring a graphic design agency is the cost. Graphic design agencies charge for different aspects of an engagement. Depending on your budget, working with a full-service graphic design agency might not be the right fit.

Explore the cost of hiring a graphic design agency with our pricing guide.



With a graphic design agency, your main role is as the client. Their team has a project manager or creative lead that works with scheduling, providing feedback, and more, which leaves little room for your side to make big decisions.

Think about how big you want your role to be within a graphic design project when it comes to selecting the right design partner.

Factors that Influence Graphic Design Hiring Choices

Here are several factors that might impact your decision-making process for graphic design support:

  1. Design knowledge & skillset
  2. Portfolio of past design work
  3. Cost of service
  4. Design tools & programs
  5. Client testimonials
  6. Communication style

Graphic Design Services Take Businesses to New Heights

When it comes to choosing between a graphic design freelancer or an agency, the choice for businesses is dependent on their needs and requirements.

If your team needs multiple skill sets for different projects, a graphic design agency might be your best bet due to the additional bandwidth and experience they deliver. For quick projects at an affordable price, start looking for a freelancer to get the job done effectively.

Both choices can provide businesses with success - but all companies are different. Explore the pros and cons of each to find the right graphic design support for your digital marketing goals.

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