There used to be advantages in employing large agencies for big jobs. Economies of scale, strength in numbers, experience and access to resources were benefits of the big boys over a lone ranger. Nowadays, this isn’t true. All a freelancer needs is a Mac and a broadband connection. Large files can easily be moved around quickly, huge jobs – series of billboards, brochures, books, presentations, videos, websites – can sit on secure servers anywhere in the world.
If the scale of the job is too much for one freelancer they can simply call on someone else to help. Files can be downloaded from the freelancer’s FTP site and uploaded when finished. Every freelancer has a network of contacts each with their specialities.
Essentially there are benefits which ever way you decide to go, and neither one is the wrong choice. The first decider is often cost. Freelance designers tend to be significantly more affordable than design agencies because they don't have the same overheads and staff costs and primarily because you are usually paying a single person to work on your project.
So here's my list of advantages of each. It’s also worth noting there’s a certain amount of overlap. For instance, my first reason for choosing an agency is because they’re well-versed in dealing with large accounts. The same can be true of a freelancer.
Reasons to work with a freelance graphic designer
1. From start to finish, the client is talking to the top creative designer on the job, so the project specifications don’t need relayed before action is taken.
2. There are no separate account managers, senior creatives or junior designers, each with differing interpretations of the design brief.
3. The client is hiring the person responsible for 100% of the design portfolio
4. Client phone calls go directly to the designer working on the project — not a sales person or account manager.
5. With many freelancers working from home, they can often transfer considerable savings made through low overheads.
6. Design revisions can frequently be made almost immediately after the request.
7. Billing enquiries and delivery time frames can be clarified at the same time as specific design discussions.
Reasons to work with a graphic design agency
1. Well versed in dealing with large accounts.
2. The client isn’t reliant on the health of one person for the successful completion of the design project.
3. There is often a group of designers collaborating on ideas, offering a broad range of outcomes.
4. Agencies tend to be made up of a number of staff each with their own specialty meaning the overall skill level involved in your project could be higher.
Should the advantages I’ve listed differ from your own experience, please feel free to add in the comments section.