Pros and cons of engaging a freelance designer - a guide for startups & founders

Not sure yet if you want to hire a freelancer or work with an in-house designer? I have written a brief pro and cons list for both scenarios, which should help in coming to the right decision.

You as a startup founder are looking at getting your new website and other marketing materials developed but aren't sure if you should hire a freelance designer or employ a designer in-house? This blog posts helps you with detailed pros and cons lists for both of these options. So, let's jump right in!

Pros of employing an in-house Designer:

  • Potentially lower hourly costs, as a freelance Designer will most likely charge more than what you are expected to pay a full-time or part-time employee.
  • A in-house Designer might be more tightly connected, as well as embedded in your team than a Freelancer and probably does not have any other clients he has to take care of at the same time.

Cons of employing an in-house Designer:

  • Depending of what country you operate in you might have to pay your in-house Designer sick pay and holiday pay, as well as contribute to his pension fund or health insurance. Additionally, other costs such as equipment or home office allowances and allowances for further education, health and wellbeing or other benefits your company usually provides will need to be paid for as well. This all can become quite costly.
  • A permanent employee needs to be paid, no matter if you've got a lot of work on or not. And there are always public holidays to cater for as well. This means that all the costs mentioned above will need to be paid even if you've got a slow month with little work available.
  • This depends a lot on where you operate from, but usually it is easier to terminate a work arrangement with a Freelancer than a permanent employee. Payouts for redundancy, or leave entitlements also need to be factored in here.

Now that we've looked at some of the pros and cons of working with an in-house Designer, let's dig into the pros and cons for a Freelancer next.

Pros of working with a Freelancer:

  • Costs – you don't have to pay any other costs than the designer's hourly/daily or project fee. Also, you only pay when you need work done, and not when there's little work planned for the upcoming weeks or months.
  • If things don't work out you can more easily part ways without having to pay out leave entitlements or redundancy payments.
  • A freelance Designer can bring a whole bunch of different experiences with him to your company and is constantly gaining more skills and insights due to working with other companies besides your own. An in-house Designer will most likely only work for you and currently doesn't have an insight into other organisations and ways of working. At the same time keep in mind that you will have to check in with your freelance Designer if he has capacity to take on more work when needed, since he might be working with other clients as well.
  • No office politics. Freelance Designers are often not as closely embedded into the company as your own team members which avoids the dreaded office politics and certain unfavourable team dynamics that sometimes come with having a bunch of permanent staff members that are in the office together at all times.

Cons of working with a Freelancer:

  • Sometimes more expensive in terms of hourly or day rates. This is because Freelancers are business owners themselves and have to factor in their own expenses including software, hardware, training etc. while also not receiving the same benefits as permanent fulltime or part-time staff.
  • Often not as embedded in the team as your permanent team members. This can alleviated a bit by working with a Freelancer on a long-term basis or retainer contract, instead of a once-off project.

Hope these items help you make a choice about which direction to go down in your startup. Any questions or further considerations that I should add to this article? Just get in touch with me!

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