Freelance designer VS Design agency: who is better at projects?

Whether you’re confused, who is better to hire, we prepare a small article specifically for your doubts to disappear.

When launching your project, such as a multi-functional website or a small Tilda site, you want it to be perfect and meet the needs of both sides – yours and potential customers. Therefore, for a beautiful visual picture people hire designers. But here is the question: who is a better candidate to hire? 

There are a lot of freelance designers, hungry for freedom and interesting tasks which they do quite quickly and efficiently. But do not write off design agencies. The question is quite serious, although it looks not particularly important at first. The final picture, design and result depend on the choice of a definite designer. It can be a total disaster or a golden treasure. Let’s figure out, whom to choose!

Let things be in order

Before we dive deeper into the topic, we'd like to clarify some aspects related to one more category of designers. 

Along with freelance and design agencies, there are in-house designers. These are the people who work with a small number of designers, or even work alone, with an established organization or brand. They’re not as free as freelancers, but their benefits are correlated. 

For example, they have freedom of movement, ability to see colleagues, and to do various assigned tasks at once. Moreover, they have many possibilities to climb up the career ladder faster than any others. 

Meanwhile, a freelance designer is a self-employed individual who specializes in a certain aspect of the project. They're not a part of a team, but they perform tasks equally to in-house or full-time designers and their amount is huge. Why so? 

Creative professions require creative solutions. This concept is pretty hard to survive within some design agencies and large companies, because of rigorous hours of many projects, which you have to deal with. 

More often than not, you have to adjust your vision to the framework and interests of business than your own. Therefore, many are so eager to work as a freelance designer. It’s more about freedom. But, for being a successful individual freelancer, it's recommended to work in agencies first to get the appropriate experience.

Let’s get down to design agencies. As we wrote earlier, agencies have a lot of simultaneous projects, because they don't sell their services, but are hired from outside. There's a huge team of experienced designers working together to do such tasks. Of course, in such work there is lots of creativity, and a flight of fantasies that is limitless, but not in all companies, as we reported. It’s important to find the one that meets your values, meaning of freedom and creativity.

Now, after learning more about each category of designers, we can go to the next chapter of our useful article. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a freelance designer, an in-house designer and a design agency at work?  

What provider to choose – an in-house design team, a graphic design agency or a freelancer?

The advantages and disadvantages

In each category you can easily find pros and cons for your project. So let’s not waste time, better jump to the table below, which is gonna show us advantages and disadvantages.


Freelance designer In-house designer Design agency

Low price.

They don't need to pay for building, insurance and other expenses, that's why they set the price much lower than agencies

More time.

In-house designers have more time than agencies. So, they can test several layouts, prints, colors to see the difference as a result

Experienced teamwork.

Everyone in an agency knows each other’s weaknesses and strengths. Work in such a team goes precisely, quickly and smoothly, like one big organism

High flexibility.

Freelance designer doesn’t have to adjust to someone’s schedule, so can work at any time. They can easily answer, fix a problem anytime and take long-hour work, which speeds up the work process

Learn fast and take on various tasks.

Such workers will be forced to work with different people, different tasks. Their knowledge or experience is very large.

Low risk.

Reliability and stability of the agency is very important when choosing between a freelance designer, an in-house designer or a design agency. Not all freelancers or in-house designers can be as binding to the client as agencies. They’re definitely not gonna go away or abandon the project.

Specialization and benefit.

Freelancers focused on one area often have more knowledge and experience than others. They invest a lot in themselves, because it depends on their salary. Plus, for them it's beneficial to do everything quickly for the same reason - the more orders, the more money they have

Perfect result.

Due to the large amount of time, such workers will modify and try on design solutions several times. So, they can achieve the perfect result

High quality.

Each agency should adhere to strict high quality and reliability. They represent their agency, so they stick to standards. In addition, agencies have a huge amount of resources to ensure a high level of quality. For example, Sketchy digital design agency. We provide not only high-quality design services but also set a high standard of managerial excellence


Freelance designer In-house designer Design agency

High risk 1.

You may find that the designer cannot find a reasonable explanation for the work done or will avoid direct contact altogether. They'll have a bunch of other projects and clients who are waiting for an answer

Explanation hater.

In-house designers have more time than agencies. So, they can test several layouts, prints, colors to see the difference as a result

High cost.

Perhaps the most serious disadvantage of agencies. Their services cannot be cheap, because they are bound to other expenses, like software, office space, salaries, equipment and so on. While the other two categories of designers - don't. Therefore, the agencies will not take small projects – it's not profitable

High risk 2.

Your project may be unfinished on time or abandoned altogether, if your freelancer has unforeseen circumstances such as vacation, illness and others. Due to him being alone on the team, he won’t be able to submit the work to others

Lack of resources.

They don't have the same amount of software, communication and employees than the agency does. They'll meet difficulties to go beyond the existing

Long answer.

Whether you want to change something in your project, you have to spend a lot of time and effort to get an answer. Agencies have strict regulations and the form of it in which changes can be made

Limited capacity.

One designer won't be able to carry out a huge or even medium-sized project as efficiently as a team of 15 or more people. This is impossible. After all, one person cannot possess knowledge and skills equally in all areas of the design project requires

Wasted time.

Working with in-house designers and small companies leads to the realization that not all projects can be done by them. If the project is hard enough and they have no expert or only one, it will take time to find another

Every option can be profitable, it only depends on you and your needs.

It boils down to one conclusion. Whether you’ve read the article properly, you saw that cons and pros are normal things for each category. It’s indisputable that a design agency is a winner for carrying out projects with minimum downsides and providing better services and quality. There’s no need to be worried about being left with no result or handing your project to inexperienced specialists. That ain’t gonna happen. 

Especially, if you do business with Sketchy Digital Creative Studio. Remind you that we provide high-quality design services. We can set up the work from the start to the end, and provide a new workflow that can be efficient and prompt. We value time and quality, so our clients forget about any project-related risks and failed deadlines. Check us out!

Graphic design investments

Whether you want good results such as impressive income and a huge number of loyal customers, you have to work in detail on the visuals of your brand. To reach brand awareness and be interesting for the target audience, you need a nice, suitable image, that is a visual, as well as a name, values, message and other. Read more about visual identity and brand identity, as well as the importance of visual image, you can find in our article "Why brands can't exist without a visual identity".

In order for the visual image to be good and the result exceeded all expectations, and in the end no one would run to sell a house or a car to pay off debts, you need to prepare for the budget. ROI (Return on Investment) will help you to calculate the budget. Most graphic designers work according to this scheme:

1) Scenario and visual location 

2) Main goal

3) Secondary goal

4) Execution|testing of different design options

5) Coordination of the project|editing 

"If the visual is so important and the graphic designer is so crucial, how much will their work cost? Do I have to sell a kidney?" – you might ask. Let’s go through the basic prices of graphic designers.

A fairly experienced freelance designer charges about 25 dollars per hour of working. Less experienced, respectively, less than 25 dollars, but here only at your own risk. The most popular platform for hiring freelance designers is Upwork.

Agencies usually charge $50 an hour for junior designers and $75 to $150 an hour for senior designers. In general, the price may vary, better to find out from the agency itself.

As for in-house designers, there are no detailed official numbers, only a cost per year. According to Indeed, the average national salary of a graphic designer in the USA is $47,666 per year. 

Choosing a designer can cost not only money, but time and effort. In this article we tried to go down as deeply and clearly as possible about the three main categories of graphic designers: freelancers, in-house and agencies. After learning all the pros and cons of each type, we came to the conclusion that a design agency is the best option for your business. But, of course, when choosing, you must rely on your budget, project size, and timing. Nevertheless, it's up to you!

If you're looking for a devoted ally, check out our DesignRush page and see why we're making waves in the creative industry!

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Alex Jakov
Chief Executive Officer
Former co-founder of Opendoor. Early staff at Spotify and Clearbit.

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