I was reading an article this morning about in-house versus outsourcing design projects. This was important to me because I’m a strong believer in the benefits of outsourcing graphic design. And not just because it is in my business’s best interest. For most companies, it can be a much better option.
As an example, I met with a potential client a couple of years ago that was considering both options. They were really leaning toward hiring in-house and wanted to also check out local freelance designers.
I met with their marketing director and had what I considered a good meeting. We discussed their projects and what they were looking for to fulfill their need. I met all their needs except one. They were wanting a strong designer that was also a strong copywriter. Because I worked with some really outstanding copywriters in the past, and know the difference between an adequate writer and an outstanding one, I suggested that they consider getting both by hiring me for the design and a copywriter I know (and trust) as a team. Together, they would get both with no added cost and a much better end product, and I would help them manage the project.
Seemed like a win-win to me. But, apparently not to them. They didn’t hire me. I’m not sure how they filled their need, or whether they are still looking, but I did see the position advertised for quite a while afterward. If I had to guess, I would probably say they found either an adequate or better designer or an adequate or better copywriter, but not outstanding for both. This is something of a unicorn.
The article “Graphic Design – In-house Graphic Artists VS Outsourcing Needs” cites some other strong points that also should be factored in:
Lower costs — When you outsource graphic design to someone like me, you only pay for the time I’m working on your project. As someone who has been tracking their time, day in and day out for the last 20+ years, a good portion of my day is not directly billable. Much of my day is spent doing client relations, marketing, accounting, and education. These costs are built into my hourly rate, and the costs are shared and spread out among all my clients. This also includes healthcare, office space, and equipment costs. With in-house, you absorb all these costs, as well as the risk and responsibility to keep this person continually busy.
Flexibility — This benefit is also a big plus. Scalability, both up and down, allows you to only pay for what you need when you need it. So, if the volume of work increases or decreases, it’s easy to adjust accordingly. And for most businesses, this is often the case. Projects naturally ebb and flow. This is not the case with in-house. It’s a fixed expense.
Diverse Talent – As specified in the example I provided above, it’s easy to target your project to the exact need versus trying to utilize the in-house talent to meet that need. Because I have so much experience in so many areas of design, I personally bring a rich source of knowledge and experience to every project I work on. And if I don’t think I would be the best fit, I will tell you so and find you a better option to consider. And I can help you manage it as well. So, it’s less work and less risk for you.
New Ideas – Because I work with so many different clients in so many different industries, I bring fresh ideas and insights that would not be possible with in-house talent. With in-house, there’s a good chance they become somewhat myopic in their views to design. When presented with the same or similar design challenges day in and day out, there’s a good chance they’ll just follow the path of least resistance and fill in the blanks with previous solutions. Businesses should always be looking for new solutions and ideas.
There are probably times when going in-house makes more sense for a business. But, before doing so, I think it’s worth considering outsourcing it. When you find the right fit, it could really benefit your bottom line and your overall marketing and communications efforts.