To hire or outsource? That’s a question many organizations are asking about their graphic design support these days.
Sure, you need talented people in-house who understand your brand and can get work done quickly and efficiently. But, you also have specialized needs sometimes that may not require a full-time, dedicated resource.
During these challenging times, does it really make sense to hire someone you may need to let go of if the economy doesn’t turn around? But on the other hand, it may not be easy to find quality freelancers in a pinch.
So, what should you do?
In this article, we cover the pros and cons of hiring in-house graphic designers versus outsourcing the work. It will provide you with the information you need to make the right choice for you and your business.
The pros of hiring in-house designers
There are many reasons for bringing one or more graphic artists on board. Some of the top ones for most operations include:
Maintaining a defined brand presence is more important than ever. People are exposed to thousands of images every day in social media, on posters and billboards, in print and more. It’s therefore critical for a business to have a look, style and visual presence all its own–it’s a proven way to stand out.
The brand is the reputation, the point of view, all the thoughts and feelings a brand evokes. It’s what stays in the hearts and minds of your consumers. It’s the results of all elements together: storytelling, image, logo, videos, every experience and touch point.
Saul Suaza, SketchDeck designer and branding expert
If your marketing and sales materials don’t look like they come from the same source, you’re most likely not telling your prospects and customers a coherent story about your business. In addition, you’re not getting the benefits of repeated exposure to your marketing. Many experts say it takes at least 13 interactions with branded experiences–including social posts, ads, web pages and videos–before consumers take action.
When it comes to brand consistency, having in-house talent often makes sense. This team can learn the intricacies of your brand and ensure that assets stay on target time and time again.
Social media campaigns churn through a lot of imagery, much of it timely and developed on the fly. It therefore makes sense for most companies that are active on social to have an in-house designer, especially if they’re on Instagram and other highly visual platforms.
Having a team at the ready gives you the power to act on ideas–not to mention respond to social trends and opportunities–as they come up. Being fast and first is key to becoming a leader in social media, so hiring a dedicated designer often makes sense.
We’ve all seen it: the presentation developed or updated by a sales rep on the fly. You may still be having nightmares about it.
It’s true–sales team support is one of the key reasons most companies have at least a few designers working in-house. For many, it’s the only way the organization can be responsive to sales reps needs.
This is especially true when last minute opportunities come up. In most cases, companies can’t keep up with the competition if they have to seek out a freelance designer every time a representative schedules a sales meeting.
Most companies need a certain level of internal expertise to guide their overall graphic design process. After all, it’s nice to know that you have a singular resource you can depend on to provide sound advice, guidance and find ways to get work done in a crunch. Some start-ups outsource all their graphic design work when they’re new, but move toward bringing part of it in-house as they grow and need to operationalize their marketing, sales and graphic design functions.
The cons of hiring in-house designers
Bringing on permanent graphic design talent isn’t all sunshine and flowers, though–there are some negatives, as well.
Expense and inflexibility
In-house designers are employees. Not only do employees need to be paid, they also expect benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation time and more.
You’ll also have increased overhead because you’ll have to provide a hire with software, computer equipment and maybe even office space (once the pandemic is over, that is). Plus, your relationship with them is governed by federal, state and local employment laws, which could make it difficult to eliminate the position should you ever need to.
To put it simply–freelancing is like dating, and permanently hiring a designer is more like marriage. Because of this, make sure you’re completely ready to hire someone before you do. If you’re not sure, consider a temp to permanent arrangement. Bring on someone as a freelance artist first, and only move them into a permanent position when you’re ready.
People who hold positions for a long time sometimes become stagnant and aren’t as innovative as they once were. This is often the case with graphic design talent.
At a time when things are changing at a very rapid pace, not staying current can leave businesses vulnerable. In essence, stale thinking causes organizations to fall behind their peers.
You can prevent this by providing employees with training so they stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies, incentivizing them to learn new things and balancing your in-house team with freelancers who challenge their ideas and keep them fresh.
The pros of working with freelancers
As with hiring in-house talent, there are many benefits to outsourcing your graphic design projects. Some of the top ones include:
More and more these days, companies have specialized design needs that aren’t required on an ongoing basis. This includes things like:
- Creating animations
- Developing a brand
- Designing an infographic
It doesn’t make sense to hire a dedicated resource for these one-off projects, and it can take your internal team too long to learn how to do them. Even if they complete the work, the results likely won’t be as polished and professional as work done by experts in these areas.
This is the classic case for hiring freelancers. They can provide the specialized skills you need when you need them with no long-term commitment.
Does your business have a busy sales and marketing season? Most do. Even so, most can’t afford to staff up the whole year only to handle one crunch period.
That’s where freelancers step in. You only hire and pay them when you require their help–the rest of the time, they’re working for others.
Geographic talent limitations
Does your business operate in an area with a limited graphic design talent pool? If that’s the case, you may not be able to find the best people to interpret and represent your brand.
What’s great about SketchDeck is that we have designers based in Europe, Asia, as well as North and South America. We strive to have a good range of timezone coverage so we can have people working around the clock.
Matthew Gorham, SketchDeck project manager
Leveraging freelancers can give you access to a nationwide or global talent pool. This will allow you to find the best designers for your needs without the restriction of depending exclusively on regional talent.
Chances are, you’re probably marketing to a more diverse audience base today than ever before. Hiring freelancers will give you an opportunity to bring on people who may have different cultural perspectives and personal experiences. This added breadth and depth, even if it is temporary, will help make your marketing campaigns, collateral and digital experiences richer and resonate with more people.
The cons of hiring freelancers
Yet again, though, there are some issues organizations face when they depend on outsourced design help. Here are a few:
When you’re in a crunch, it can often be difficult to find the right people on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. The vetting process is not quick, especially when brand training is required.
However, you shouldn’t let this stop you from enjoying the benefits of outsourcing design projects. SketchDeck was built to meet your design needs–whatever they are–meaning we have a deep pool of talent so you always know you’ll have access to the kind of people you need whenever you need them.
It can be hard enough to manage people when they’re your employees. It’s even more challenging when they don’t work for you and don’t have performance reviews, salary increases or bonuses to motivate them. There are two ways you can counter this, however.
The first is to make it clear to freelancers that if they perform well, you’ll hire them again. The second is to work with a company like SketchDeck that manages the designers for you. With SketchDeck, you’ll have access to the specialized talent you need to get the job done without the headache of overseeing people who don’t report to you.
Freelancers are likely not working for you exclusively. Their time–and their focus–may be split among many clients.
This is a common issue and something you should consider before assigning work to freelancers. If you have projects that need the undivided focus of a single designer or team, it’s probably smarter to assign it to in-house designers–or to SketchDeck.
When you work through most freelance services, it can be challenging to sift through the multitudes of people available to find the right ones for you. Plus, there’s the issue of graphic artists exaggerating their skill level or experience. How can you be sure you’re getting access to the talent you expect?
SketchDeck solves this problem by acting as your personal design matchmaker. Our team of experienced professionals take the time to understand your graphic design needs and provide you with talent that’s perfect for you.
At SketchDeck, it’s our mission to make your design experience as simple and satisfying as possible. If you’re struggling to decide between outsourcing and hiring internallymay be the best way to enjoy the benefits of without any of the hassles.