Graphic designers are an essential part of every business. If they are not, they should be.

The role of a graphic designer is basically to turn words into beauty. They find a way to take a few paragraphs of black text on a white background into an artistic representation of a brand’s visual language that informs, communicates and intrigues its viewer to make a connection with that company. Traditionally, a graphic designer works on what is called “print design”. Print design is anything that would be printed on paper. This includes postcards, sales sheets, catalogs, business cards and brochures, just to name a few. As communication has evolved, their capabilities have now expanded into “digital design”. Digital design is any type of design that would be viewed online. Examples of this include website design, social media graphics and infographics. Traditionally, companies would seek a design firm to create these types of materials, however the freelance graphic designer has been brought to the spotlight In the last few years. Even more so now with everyone transitioning from an in-office role to a remote, work from home role due to COVID.

Read on to understand why hiring a freelance graphic designer is the better choice when compared to working with an agency.

Freelancers are Cost-Effective

Think about it: a freelancer is ONE person that you are working with to create your designs. An agency is a SLEW of people that are housed under one brand name. You are not paying just ONE person. You are paying for every person that works in that building PLUS the rent on that building.

Freelancers typically go hourly or by project. An entry-level designer may charge around $20-40 per hour while your seasoned designers are $75-$120 per hour. You may be tempted to go with the cheaper graphic designer, but then you may find out that they spin and spin with lackluster results racking up 10+ hours that could have been done in 2 hours by a seasoned designer with results you love. Think of that old adage, “You get what you pay for”.

If your designer has told you that they are going to go by the hour, ask them for an estimate of how long it will take to complete the project. Any designer worth their salt should be able to provide this to you. After doing hundreds of logos and brochure designs, I am very accurate on my quotes to potential clients. Also make sure to ask your graphic designer how many revisions their quote includes. The industry standard is 2 to 3 changes, however it’s a good idea to verify with your designer.

Some clients prefer the flat rate approach rather than hourly because there is no question where the project cost will land. It’s a sense of security knowing what that final bill will be. Again, these quotes typically include a set amount of changes that you can request before the project will incur additional costs. Designers do this to protect themselves because there are those clients that like to nitpick and endlessly make changes with no end in sight, blowing the budget completely.

Your In-House Team is Overloaded

This reason applies more to agencies or companies that have an in-house design team. Sometimes your go-to team just cannot handle anymore, but projects still need to be done. That is where your freelancers come to the rescue. Bring on a freelancer to alleviate the pressure, get the projects done, and make you look like a hero! Many agencies have some of their favorite freelancers on call for times like this. In fact, some agencies rely ENTIRELY on a freelance team to get their creative needs taken care of.

Open Communication

If you have ever worked with an agency, you may have experienced times where it is difficult to get a hold of your account manager or creative director that is working on your project. Many times this has to do with how “big” of a client you are. Big money=Top Priority. It’s no secret that the million dollar clients get catered to with elaborate gifts, over-the-top presentations and massive appetizer spreads at every meeting while the smaller clients are lucky to get their email answered.

The rules are a bit different with a freelancer because EVERY client is important, no matter what the size of the project is. Each client represents a good review, the next referral, or potential repeat business (our favorite). A smart freelance Phoenix graphic designer will make sure their client is happy with their work and will want to come back for more.

It is true, that there are some freelancers who tarnish the perception of freelancers with their poor communication, lack of response to emails and phone calls. I have often wondered how they stay in business. I have gotten many new clients this way, simply because I pick up the phone. I make myself available and that is what keeps my clients coming back for more. I am not going anywhere and can be trusted to do what I say I am going to do.

The other benefit of working with a freelance graphic designer is that you can communicate with your designer DIRECTLY. You don’t have to play telephone between you, the account manager and the designer. Instead, you can talk to your designer directly, tell them your concerns, get their feedback, and have those changes turned around fairly quickly. With an agency setup, the account manager is always in the way. It is their job to be the “point of communication” between the client and the designer. I can say from experience, because I worked In agencies for so many years, that the account manager frequently over steps with their personal opinion as well and often muddies or waters down the original design intent from the designer. Plus-why pay for an account manager anyway? This is an unnecessary role that is only a product of working with a design firm.

Flexible Hours

Since freelancers have their own hours, are remote and work from home, they tend to be available on the weekends or evenings. A freelance graphic designer enjoys the ability to have a flexible schedule so they can run their kids to school, participate in their favorite hobby or sport, and have vacations when they please. However, there is one caveat: the work still has to get done somehow. So it is not uncommon that you will get emails in the middle of the night, super early hours or on the weekends. It’s unlikely you will get this kind of service at odd hours from agencies because they work the hours that the agency is open, your traditional 8-5, Monday through Friday. This means that if you have a last minute change, or a rush to get a file from a printer, it is more likely that you will be able to reach a freelance graphic designer than an agency employee.

Freelancers care more about the work they do

It’s true. A freelance graphic designer has so much heart and so much to give to each project, you are getting their very best every time. There are a few reasons for this.

First, freelancers pick their projects. That’s right. We have the freedom to turn down a project that we don’t want to do. We may turn down a project because we are too busy, we are not interested in the work, or maybe we just don’t like the company. Everyone has their reasons. Now that you know this-trust in the fact that if a freelancer has agreed to do a project for you, it is because they really WANT to. Things are different for an agency designer. Agency designers don’t get to pick their projects. Their projects are given to them weather they like it or not. I have a perfect example of this. While I was working at an agency I was given the project to work on a particular national brand sports bar. I do not like sports bars. I do not enjoy sports, I do not enjoy bar food. It’s a perfect recipe for a creative down spiral. And, that is exactly what happened. I just could NOT get excited about the project, and my creativity levels were in the negative. It was a total fail and I was stuck on the project for months just limping along. Finally my creative director had some mercy on me and passed the project onto an eager sports enthusiast designer that was able to take the project and turned it into a homerun. But see, that is the thing with designers. We have to WANT to work on the project and be excited and inspired in order to do good work. We can’t help it!

The second reason is that a happy client equals a returning client, positive reviews and glowing referrals. We want you to spread the work and sing our praises, so we will do everything within our power to make that happen by providing you with our very best creative magic.

 You can Hand Pick your Designer

This could be one of the more enjoyable parts of your journey, combing through all of the portfolios that are out there. Really take your time with this. Closely examine the style and designs of their projects. Do they resonate with you? Would they be something that you would be pleased to receive if you were the client of those projects? Do you like the look and feel of their personal portfolio website? If you are looking for multiple projects, such as Phoenix logo design, phoenix website design, or phoenix package design, it may be prudent for you to try to find one designer that can help you with all of your projects, instead of someone that ONLY does logo design or only does package design. Look for that one stop design shop! Doing this can ensure that the design style is consistent and on brand every time without fail. Consistency in your branding is a key element in building the integrity of your brand.

Shop for your freelance graphic designer locally. Working with a local designer can give you the peace of mind that you can meet them in person, and establish a personal relationship with them. It also guarantees you that if that designer decides to go dark on you that you can go find them or visit them if needed. I can tell you I have received SO many phone calls from frustrated clients that were working with a designer that stopped responding to emails, took an extraordinary long time on their projects, or simply got a full time job and stopped freelancing. I pride myself in always making myself available to my clients by responding to every phone call, email and text message. I want people to feel secure in our relationship that I am not going anywhere and that I am here for them. I have been a freelancer since 2011 and I have no intentions on taking a full time job and closing shop.

 Establish a personal relationship

When you work with a freelance graphic designer, you have an opportunity to establish a personal, long-term relationship. Now you are not just a number, you are a client and a friend. It becomes easy to shoot over an email with little direction and feel confident that your designer knows what you want and will deliver it to you quickly with minimal changes needed. When you pick up the phone, you get a warm greeting instead of a robotic receptionist. I still have clients that are some of the FIRST people that started working with me when I started my freelance business in 2011. We share stories, exchange advice and enjoy our communications. They know that they can send me an email with the subject line “URGENT” and I will drop what I am doing to get it done for them. These clients that I have a personal relationship know that no project is too small and sometimes I even throw in some freebies for them, because I like them and I care.

This week I got a phone call and when I answered the phone, a man said” Hi Jen, it’s Dan, do you remember me?” I recognized his voice immediately as a client that I had frequently worked with eight years ago. Eight! I was pleasantly surprised that after all of that time he remembered me to reach out and start work on more projects.

 Chances are, you are hiring a freelancer anyway

This may shock or surprise you, but many agencies outsource to freelancers. It is far more economical to contract a freelancer than to hire one as an employee. Consider this: a contractor does not get benefits such as medical, 401K, or dental. That is a HUGE savings for any employer. You also don’t have to pay them a set salary. They are only paid per contract or per project. I can tell you from personal experience that there was many many times that there was nothing to work on, or I was all caught up at the agency that I was working at and so I was just surfing the internet and getting paid for it. It happens almost everywhere. There are lulls or slow periods of time where the marketing team is working on a big proposal or the holidays are in full swing. I will say that during those slow periods where I was at work with nothing to do it was a real nail biter because I was not sure if I was going to get that phone call that I had been laid off because there was no project to work on. That is for a different article though.

I hope you have learned some interesting insider information about freelancers, how we work, and why to hire us. We are an odd bunch, but the journey can be fun, inspirational, and productive! As someone who has been a freelance graphic designer since 2011, I myself have learned so much about what it takes to be successful, and how to be efficient with my time, and grow a book of clients that can keep me busy throughout the year. I love each and every one of my clients for different reasons. I enjoy the variety, it keeps my mind fresh and my creative brain from getting bored. The personal relationships that I have created over the years is invaluable to me, and I am personally invested in each and every one of the people that I work with. I hope that more brands and businesses see the value in a freelance graphic designer, and how they can be a positive addition to their business. Although I am a freelance graphic designer that lives in Phoenix, Arizona, I do business all over the United States. Reach out and say hello!

Do you have a project or projects that you need some help with? Let’s talk!