Freelance vs Agency Design: Choosing the Best Option
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


Choosing the right design option, whether you're a business in need of graphic design services or a designer deciding your career path, can feel like a puzzle. The pieces include the benefits and drawbacks of freelance vs agency graphic design. Let's piece together this puzzle and make a clearer picture of what each option brings to the table.

What is freelance design?

Let's kick things off by looking at freelance design. When we talk about freelancing, we're discussing professionals who work independently. Unlike agency designers, freelance graphic designers are their own bosses. They choose when they work, who they work with, and the type of work they do. It's a bit like being a one-man band, playing all the instruments at once.

Key aspects of freelance design include:

  • Flexibility: A freelance designer sets their own hours and chooses their clients. This means they can work around their life, not live around their work. If they want to take a day off to go to a concert, they can. If they want to work at midnight, they can.
  • Control: Freelancers decide the type of work they do. They can specialize in a specific area of graphic design, like logo creation, or be a jack-of-all-trades.
  • Income: Unlike agency designers who have a fixed salary, freelancers set their own rates. This can result in a higher income, but it also comes with more responsibility. They have to find their own clients and make sure they get paid.

That's the basics of freelance design. It's an enticing option for those who like control and flexibility. But, like everything, it comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. We'll look into the benefits and drawbacks of freelance vs agency graphic design in the upcoming sections.

Benefits of choosing freelance design

So, why might you lean towards hiring a freelance designer or embark on a freelance career yourself? Just like a piece of well-designed artwork, the benefits and drawbacks of freelance vs agency graphic design are in the details. Let's take a peek at some of the benefits of choosing freelance design:

  • Personal Touch: When you hire a freelancer, you're working directly with the person designing your project. There are no middlemen. You can have direct and open communication, which can lead to a product that's more in line with your vision.
  • Cost: Freelance designers generally have fewer overhead costs than an agency. This can often result in lower rates for the same quality of work. It's a bit like getting a gourmet meal at a food truck price.
  • Flexibility: Freelancers can adjust their schedule to meet your needs. Need a quick turnaround? A freelancer might be able to make it happen. It's like having a personal designer at your beck and call.

These are just a few of the benefits of choosing freelance design. Of course, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Let's flip the coin and take a look at the drawbacks in the next section.

Drawbacks of freelance design

While the benefits of freelance design can be quite appealing, it's important to consider the other side of the coin—what could go wrong? Here are a few drawbacks to keep in mind when considering the benefits and drawbacks of freelance vs agency graphic design:

  • Limited Capacity: Freelancers are a one-person show. They might be juggling multiple clients, and there's only so much one person can do. It's like trying to catch five balls at once—you might drop one.
  • Less Stability: Freelancers can disappear overnight, or they may not be available when you need them. This can be risky, especially for large, time-sensitive projects. It's akin to relying on a friend to help you move—they might be there, but then again, they might not.
  • Lack of Additional Services: Freelancers specialize in their field, but they might not offer additional services like marketing or SEO. It's like going to a bakery for bread—you'll get a great loaf, but don't expect them to make you a sandwich.

As you can see, hiring freelancers comes with its own set of challenges. But don't worry, there's another option out there: agency design. Let's explore what that means in the next section.

What is agency design?

Now that we've looked at the world of freelance design, it's time to step into the realm of agency design. If you imagine freelance design as a solo artist, think of agency design as a full orchestra. It's a team of experts working together to create a masterpiece.

An agency is a company that specializes in providing creative solutions for businesses. This includes a wide range of services, from graphic design and branding to marketing and advertising. A design agency usually has a team of professionals, each with their own area of expertise. They work together to ensure that every aspect of a project is handled with care and precision.

Think of it like a well-oiled machine. Each part has a specific role to play, and when they all work together, they can achieve incredible things. Now, this might sound great, but just like with freelance design, there are both benefits and drawbacks of freelance vs agency graphic design. Let's take a closer look in the following sections.

Benefits of choosing agency design

So, why should you consider going for agency design instead of freelance? Here are some reasons:

1. Access to a Team of Experts: When you hire an agency, you are essentially hiring a team of professionals, each one skilled in a different area. This means you have access to a wide range of expertise all under one roof. Need a logo designed? There's an expert for that. Need help with your website's layout? There's a specialist for that too. The benefits of agency graphic design are that it offers a robust, all-inclusive service.

2. Consistent Quality: With an agency, you can expect a certain level of quality and consistency. This is because agencies have quality control processes in place. They have project managers who oversee the work and ensure it meets the client's expectations and the agency's standards.

3. Speed and Efficiency: Because agencies have a team of people working on projects, they can get things done faster. This is especially beneficial if you have a large project or a tight deadline. The team can divide the work and tackle different parts simultaneously, speeding up the process.

4. More Resources: Agencies typically have more resources than freelancers. They have access to the latest software, tools, and technology. They may also have a larger network of contacts, which can help when it comes to things like printing or distribution.

These are just a few of the benefits of agency graphic design. But, as with everything in life, there are also some downsides. Let's discuss those next.

Drawbacks of agency design

Now, let's flip the coin and look at the potential drawbacks of choosing agency design:

1. Cost: The most significant drawback of hiring an agency is often the cost. With a team of experts at your disposal, the cost of services can be higher than hiring a freelancer. As the saying goes, "you get what you pay for."

2. Less Personal Attention: With an agency, you may not receive the same level of personal attention that you would from a freelancer. The agency juggles multiple clients and projects at once, and your project may not always be their top priority.

3. Overly Structured: Agencies tend to follow specific protocols and processes, which could impact the flexibility of your project. If you prefer a more fluid, spontaneous and creative process, this could be a drawback.

4. Communication Challenges: Larger agencies could also present communication challenges. You may find yourself dealing with several people rather than a single point of contact. This might make communication less seamless and more time-consuming.

These are some drawbacks of agency graphic design. It's clear that both freelance and agency design come with their pluses and minuses. The next question is, how do you decide which is the best option for you?

Key differences between freelance and agency design

So, we've explored the benefits and drawbacks of freelance vs agency graphic design. Now let's highlight the key differences between the two:

1. Team Size: Freelancers work alone, while agencies consist of a team. This can affect the speed, breadth, and depth of the work.

2. Cost: As hinted earlier, agencies usually cost more than freelancers. This is primarily because of the wider range of services they offer and the overhead costs involved in running an agency.

3. Communication: With a freelancer, you get to communicate directly with the person doing the work. In an agency, you may have to go through several layers, which could slow down the process.

4. Capacity: An agency can handle more volume and complex projects as they have a larger pool of resources. In contrast, a freelancer might be more suited to smaller, more specialized tasks.

5. Flexibility: Freelancers usually offer more flexibility in terms of working hours and project adjustments. Agencies, with their structured protocols, might not be as flexible.

These differences can help you make a more informed decision on whether to hire a freelancer or an agency for your design needs.

How to choose the best option for you

Now that we've sifted through the benefits and drawbacks of freelance vs agency graphic design, the question remains: which one is the best fit for you? Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide:

1. What's my budget? If your funds are tight, a freelancer could be a more budget-friendly choice. If you have more to spend, an agency might be worth the investment for their wide array of services.

2. How big is my project? For smaller, more specialized tasks, a freelancer might be just the ticket. But if you've got a big, complex project on the horizon, an agency's larger pool of resources could come in handy.

3. How quickly do I need it done? If you're racing against the clock, bear in mind that freelancers might be faster to start, while an agency might have the manpower to finish quicker.

4. How important is communication to me? If you like the idea of direct, one-on-one communication, a freelancer might be your best bet. If you don't mind going through a few layers of hierarchy for a more structured process, consider an agency.

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all answer here. The best choice depends on your specific needs, preferences, and circumstances. So, weigh the benefits and drawbacks of freelance vs agency graphic design carefully to make the right choice for you.

If you're trying to decide between freelance and agency design work, check out the workshop 'Should I Go Freelance?' by George Dyson. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and advice on making the best decision for your career, whether you choose to go freelance or work within an agency.