Best For Business – In House Designer or Freelance Designer?

February 11, 2019

by ACL Creative Studio

In today’s rapidly advancing technological world, design is playing an ever-increasing role. This is why many businesses have elected to employ in-house designers for their company. Others, meanwhile, have gone the freelance route, employing freelance designers, usually on a per-project basis.

While either of these could be argued to be the better option, there are many advantages and disadvantages to both. This is why today we want to take a glimpse at which is better for your company, a freelancer, or in-house designer.


The first and possibly most important question every employer will ask themselves when adding a new member to their team is “how much will it cost me”. Many companies make the mistake of thinking that since an in-house designer is provided a steady income, they will cost the company less in the long run.

Unfortunately, the situation isn’t this simple, while an in-house designer is paid steadily, instead of a per-project or per-hour basis, that doesn’t  necessarily mean they’re cheaper. Think about how often your company needs design work done. Chances are, there simply isn’t enough work to fill out an 8 hour work day every day.

This means that for every hour your designer doesn’t have projects to work on, you’re effectively losing money. In addition to this, there’s lunch breaks, sick, and vacation time. All of these are things your company provides free of charge to the in-house designer.

On the other hand, while the freelance designer might charge a higher hourly rate, you aren’t paying for their lunch, nor for their vacation. Any hours they don’t spend working on what you’ve assigned, you don’t pay for. This makes them a much more economic choice unless you’re in constant need of a lot of work.

Design Quality

“But design quality only depends on the designer” we hear you say. While this is true, there are certain habits and tendencies present in the designs of both freelancers and in-house designers.

The first factor to look at here is that an in-house designer, like every other employee, loses motivation at times (unless you are a super cool place and your employees identify themselves highly with your company). Maybe they feel the project isn’t that important, or that they don’t need to put their all into it. Besides, you can’t ensure the in-house designer will always get the proper credit for excellent work. This means that you won’t always get 100% effort from your designer.

Freelancers live and die by their reputation, this means that with every new client, they have to impress them, or their career is bound to stop growing. This makes freelancers pour their all into every job they do.

Freelancers are also people that have proven their skills over and over. With a new in-house employee, you might not know if their designs are really up to par or if they’ve just been cruising through their past employments. With freelancers, you’re assured of work quality because otherwise, they wouldn’t have any work.

Ease Of Communication

This is a point where the in-house designer has a significant advantage. With freelancers, you might as well treat them as another business, this means that arranging times to talk, and contacting them might be difficult.

With an in-house designer, they’re available to you for 8 hours a day, every day. Besides that, you can usually reach them easily when you need overtime or want to assign extra work.

A small advantage of freelancers here is weekends, many employees choose to be completely unavailable during them. Whereas when it comes to freelancers, it’s not uncommon to find one working weekends.

Candidate Pool Size

When it comes to selecting a candidate for an in-house position, your choices are rather limited. At best, you’ll be choosing between candidates from your town, or maybe a town or two over that are willing to relocate. This means that most of the market will be essentially unemployable to you, purely because they live too far away for you to have them at your company. If an employee lives father away, they’re more likely to be late to work and hamper your workflow.

With a freelancer these issues are eliminated, as they are working remotely there is no case in which the freelancer can be late to work. Besides that, design is one of the few fields where having someone work for you remotely isn’t a disadvantage. This means that you can use the whole freelance marketplace to your advantage.

Being able to use people from across the globe opens up a much wider candidate pool size. You can choose to employ experts from all across the world, ensuring the highest standards possible for your business.

Closing Thoughts

In general, freelancers outperform in-house designers. The biggest advantage in-house designers have being the convenience and ease of communication.

A solution to the communication issue can be employing an agency. Agencies are generally much more professional and responsive than lone freelancers, and tend to be able to find you the ideal freelancer for your job among their ranks.

Using an agency is almost as, if not even more, convenient than simply having an in-house designer. This is because employing a designer can be quite a difficult process, and if the designer isn’t used to working in your field it can take them quite a while to get used to it.

Meanwhile an agency is easy to talk to, and has the experiences of many people at their fingertips, making them the ideal choice for businesses needing a designer.