When it comes to having a reliable solution for your web design and graphic design needs, there are a few options for businesses to choose from – namely freelance vs in-house. But which is best?
Weighing the need versus the cost is always a part of any business decision, and choosing between a freelance web designer and having an in-house web designer is an important one. I have been an independent designer + developer for over a decade, and I have also worked in-house for businesses. I will go over the pros and cons of each so you can better decide what would be best for you!
Cost of a Freelance Web Designer vs In-House Web Designer
Price is always in the back of the mind of any business owner – in some cases, the forefront. Determining how to spend that money in order to fulfill your company’s needs takes some consideration. Most times, it comes down to choosing a freelance web designer vs an in-house web designer, so let’s look at those options.
Cost of a Freelance Designer
Every freelance web designer and freelance graphic designer is a short-term contract worker. They don’t have a guaranteed 9-5 salary, so chances are that their hourly rates will be a magnitude higher than if you had your own staff. But that’s not a bad thing! Paying for a single project, in the long run, can be a huge cost-benefit. For one, there is no overhead. Once the project is complete, you don’t have to worry about any additional costs.
But there could be a couple of drawbacks. For one, if you are paying on an hourly rate and you have no pinned-down estimate of how long a project will take, you could be on the hook for more than you had hoped. But, with a freelancer, it is possible to have a flat project fee so you will not spend beyond your budget. That is a gigantic plus.
Cost of an In-House Designer
Having your own in-house graphic designer is a good thing if you can get it, but it comes with pluses and minuses of its own in the money column.
The road to having your own in-house graphic designer begins with recruitment. You have to find a way to let prospects know you have an opening. That usually requires some kind of job board like Indeed or at the very least, Craigslist. This takes lots of time and money. And in that span of time, you will have nobody to fill that role and projects that need immediate attention.
There is also the option of hiring a third party to recruit to find suitable candidates for you. Doing so will let them do all the hard work of sifting through the list of potential employees. And, again, the time in-between will leave you with an empty position and projects that still need immediate attention. When they do find someone, you will still have to interview them for the job. There is no guarantee that the candidates presented to you will have the skills to bring on board, so your search may need to continue, extensively.
Speaking of onboard, once you find an employee, you may need to do some onboarding! That means you have to train them to do things the way the company does. They may have gaps in their skill set, and if that is the case, you will need to train them to use certain tools and such. This costs – yes, you guessed it – more time and more money.
Additionally, there are things such as health, dental – if you choose to offer such things – equipment, taxes, and the list goes on.
Skills: Freelance vs In-house
The goal of hiring either a freelancer or a full-time employee is to have someone that can get the job done. In-house employees are usually hired in specialized roles. So you’ll have a web designer, and a graphic designer and they work with a marketer, and they all report to a manager…
Freelancers do have their specialties, but some will be able to take on multiple roles. Speaking for myself, I’m not just a web designer. I’m also a web design consultant, a graphic designer, an SEO specialist, email marketer, debugger, video editor, sometimes-animator, and a mentor for web designers and graphic designers.
Another thing seasoned freelancers offer is a polished portfolio of their work. A business will have a small collection of that designer’s best or favorite works to peruse. They can use this as proof positive of what the freelancer can do.
The biggest leg up that a freelancer has over a full-time employee is customer reviews. With these, businesses can get a real insight into not only the quality of the designer’s work but how customers feel about working with them – real-world pluses and minuses. Many designers put customer quotes on their websites, but a stronger case for authenticity comes when you can read customer reviews on Google [read my customer reviews on Google] or other rating sites.
Reliability of a Freelancer vs In-House
Having someone that is reliable and always available is such a desirable thing to have in an employee. So taking a leap of faith on a freelancer or in-house employee is, well, a leap of faith. You don’t know how a person actually works out until you see it for yourself. But what are the pros and cons when it comes to reliability? How can you know for sure?
Reliability of In-House Designers
One thing you can usually rely on is that a full-time employee will always be there, from 9-5, whenever you need them. That means no matter what the project is and no matter how long it takes, they will be there at the same pay rate, day-in, and day-out. It’s a reliable thing – in general.
Another thing about full-time employees is that sometimes they slack off at work. Oh, it’s true. When employees become accustomed to the idea of a guaranteed paycheck, they can sometimes (whether knowingly or not) pull back on the reigns a bit and slow down their production versus if they know their performance is being under a big microscope because it’s their first time working on a project for the company.
So, although they are available 40 hours a week if they are there longer than that you will have to pay overtime! The standard rate for overtime is time and a half. That’s another caveat of having an in-house staff.
Are Freelancers Reliable
Freelancers are very reliable, otherwise, they couldn’t stay in business. Freelancers – if they’re lucky enough – handle multiple clients. This means that if they get more than one project in a day, they may need to slot you a day, two days, or more down the road. For me, personally, I usually tackle projects the same day I get them, time permitting. And since I’ve been a freelance web designer in Dallas for over a decade, I know how to handle multiple projects from multiple clients.
Are Freelancers a Good Investment?
Yes indeed, freelancers are a great investment. With a freelancer, you get the ability to have a skilled professional on-call for any kind of project you need. You can vet their abilities by seeing their work and reading reviews. Once your project is complete, you don’t have the overhead of paying insurance, paying for their equipment, or keeping them on staff.
Although there are some good things about having an in-house graphic designer or web developer, it may not outweigh the hoops and responsibilities that come along with having full-time employees.