Hire Freelancers vs. On-Demand Graphic Design: Which is Better? - Unlimited Graphic Design Service

Hire Freelancers vs. On-Demand Graphic Design: Which is Better?

/ April 6, 2021

Graphic design is integral to business success. To get great graphic design, many business owners hire freelancers to do the job. However, there is an alternative not many know about. 

On-demand graphic design is making a mark in the industry. To know which ones would suit your business, we created this guide to help you. Let’s take a closer look at each and see what the pros and cons are.

What are freelancers and what do they do?

Choosing to hire freelancers gives a business an additional resource to complete specialized tasks. And with the abundance of freelancers available online, there is no shortage of remote talent. What exactly are freelancers?

Freelancers are self-employed, so there is no connection to your company other than the contract that you provide, which is usually short. In addition, they usually work with multiple clients, so they are not exclusive to your team. 

If you need a one-time project such as logo design, hiring a freelancer beats getting a full-time employee. Graphic design freelancers can help you with design tasks at a fraction of the cost. You can only contact them when the need arises and pay them accordingly.

Where to hire freelancers?

If this is the type of personnel and work that you need, here is a list of places to hire freelancers. Note that all these have their own systems in place. While some offer protection from scammers, others do not. Some charge you a service fee and there are those that you can use for free. 

Check out each to find out which is most preferable to your business.

Upwork

Boasting a database with up to 12 million freelancers, Upwork is a business favorite. You’re sure to find a graphic designer there, but also writers, web developers, accountants, and many others. It is a platform where clients and freelancers meet.

You will post a job that freelancers will apply to. Upwork will show a shortlist of candidates from which you can choose. Of course, you have to pay a fee for their services.

Fiverr

A platform where freelancers showcase their skills, Fiverr is an easier option to hire freelancers. Just choose from the list and select from there. Projects start at $5 but can go higher depending on the task you have.

Toptal

If you have bigger jobs to fill, Toptal is the platform for you. From a project manager to software developer, they have them there. You can hire top freelancers to do your graphic design as it only lists the top 3% of the talents. 

Freelancer

Using a bidding system, Freelancer lets you hire freelancers once you post your job details. You can browse portfolios there as it’s a huge marketplace. However, their number doesn’t prevent them from getting the occasional spammer, so beware. 

PeoplePerHour

From graphic design to programming, PeoplePerHour has it. As their name suggests, work will primarily be done by the hour and not per project as some platforms do. Freelancers post their rates and skills and it’s up to you to choose. 

Craigslist

Probably the oldest on the list, Craigslist is free to use. You can post your job ad there and wait for the freelancers to contact you. They have no security measures in place like PeoplePerHour’s anti-fraud protection. But if you want a no-fuss, straightforward approach to hiring freelancers, this is a good option. 

What are on-demand graphic design services?

Similar to other membership-based services, on-demand graphic design services are there when you need them. They don’t require you to sign a contract which means you can cancel when you don’t have any projects to submit. If you have multiple projects, this is a good business investment.

With the evolution of how a modern office operates, a service like Penji is the resource that marketers and agencies turn to for graphic design needs. Our unlimited graphic design service allows you to send as many design requests as you can.

You don’t work with just one designer. There is an entire team of designers with various skill sets available to you at the press of a button. Simply submit a description of what you need to be designed and you’ll receive a completed draft within 24 – 48 hours.

Flexibility

One of the perks of both options is having the flexibility to hire when needed. Projects tend to fluctuate in busy and less busy periods, so it’s important to have the option of cutting ties if work is slow.  

Unlike traditional hiring, you also have the flexibility of scheduling and talking with your designers on your time. That means your workflow will be better suited to your lifestyle and not constrained by the 9-5 workday. Plus, with Penji’s customized platform, you can seamlessly communicate with your designers anytime, anywhere.

Freelance designers

Pros

  • An extra team member during busy periods
  • Contracts can be specific to a project or time frame
  • Flexible working hours so you can communicate even after normal working hours

Cons

  • Working on multiple projects at once for different clients
  • May not get the attention that you want because of the understanding that it’s a temporary position
  • There’s the possibility of a freelancer abandoning your task forcing you to find another

On-demand graphic design 

Pros

  • An entire team of designers to assist your existing team members
  • Flexibility to change designers if needed within the platform
  • Canceling is easy, just like any other subscription or membership
  • Can handle as many or as little of your team’s workload

Cons

  • Building relationships with one designer may be difficult
  • Every designer will have their own unique style

Filling Skills Gap

Your team is great. But can they do it all? Some projects need specialized skills that your existing team may not have. Especially if it is just for a specific project, you may just need someone to fill the skill gap temporarily. This is when you start exploring outsourcing options.

Freelance designers

Pros

  • Temporary hiring based on need
  • One time transaction for service
  • Ability to hire a freelancer with a specific skill set

Cons

  • Time finding a skilled freelancer to fill the gap can delay the project
  • You may realize you need a different skillset midway into the project

On-demand graphic design 

Pros

  • Diverse portfolio of designers to choose from
  • Saves time vetting for a designer
  • Wide range of skills developed after working overtime with diverse clients

Cons

  • Subscription is at minimum one-month-long

Cost

With hiring a new freelancer or signing up for a graphic design membership, the cost will come to mind. Whether you have a budget of $500 or $50,000, you should always get the best value for your money. Something creative like graphic design will always vary in cost, especially between freelancers and graphic design services.

Freelance designers

Pros

  • Ability to choose a designer that fits within your budget
  • Cost of designs can be as low as $5
  • Prices can be negotiable

Cons

  • Freelance marketplaces charge can charge up 20% on commission
  • Low prices may result in low quality designs
  • Unsatisfactory designs will mean paying more for revisions or rehiring

On-demand graphic design 

Pros

  • One price for unlimited designs
  • Unlimited revisions with no extra charge
  • Inexpensive for the number of designs as well as quality

Cons

  • Expensive if you only need a few designs

Overall, subscribing to an on-demand graphic design service like Penji is worth the investment, especially if you have steady design requests.

Onboarding

Graphic designers can be found anywhere in the world. You may even know one in your family or friend circle! But, if they are not what you’re looking for, the next place you’ll turn to is online. If you’re looking to hire freelancers or sign up for a graphic design service, you’ll come to find that onboarding is very different for both options. 

Freelance designers

Pros

  • May agree to in-person onboarding depending on the length of the contract
  • The onboarding process can be skipped for temporary hires
  • Variety of forms of communication to onboard freelance designers: over the phone, video call, etc.

Cons

  • Contracts must be formed
  • Deadlines must be specified clearly
  • Communication is difficult
  • There are too many freelancers so choosing one with all the qualities you want is not easy

On-demand graphic design 

Pros

  • Easy online sign up through a website
  • Explanation of deadlines are unnecessary as everything is delivered strictly within a 24-48 timeframe
  • No binding contract and option to cancel at anytime

Cons

  • No option to onboard in-person
  • Relationship with designers is kept strictly online and professional 

If you want easy onboarding without having to go through the tedious hiring process, go for an on-demand service like Penji.

Quantity of projects

No matter what kind of business you run, you’ll always want to hire professional graphic designers to do any sort of design work. You’ll see an obvious difference between the work of an amateur versus a professional. Though freelance marketplaces and graphic design services both have professional designers, the difference is in the skillset and experience. 

Freelance designers

Pros

  • Great for one-time jobs
  • Found a freelancer you enjoyed working with? Hire them for another project!

Cons

  • Freelancers are charged per project: the more designs you need, the more you pay.
  • Only one project is in progress at a time
  • If multiple designs need to be worked on at the same time, then concentration is divided.

On-demand graphic design 

Pros

  • On-demand graphic designs work as a bundle. Pay once, get unlimited designs
  • Multiple design projects can be submitted at once 
  • Quick turnaround of 24-48 hours means more designs completed in a short time

Cons

  • Style will vary per designer

Communication

When you’re working on a project with a designer, good communication is vital to success. When you hire freelancers, communicating will be drastically different than working on an on-demand graphic design platform. There’s a need to explain clearly the guidelines for exactly what you need. Lack of proper communication will reflect in the design outcome.

Freelance designers

Pros

  • Initial communications and expectations can be done over phone or in person
  • Written contract can be formed to hold designer accountable
  • Variety of communication options

Cons

  • Keeping track of freelancer’s work requires constant emailing back and forth
  • May not always be available to communicate

On-demand graphic design 

Pros

  • Points of revisions can be added through the online platform
  • Files such as examples can be easily delivered through one platform and can be accessed in a chat
  • Specific shades of colors can be specified on the platform
  • All updates on work are sent directly through the platform

Cons

  • No face-to-face communication can create misunderstandings
  • Communication is limited to online platform

Understanding your brand

Graphic designers are usually very marketing savvy as well. But, that doesn’t mean every designer has what it takes to understand your brand. Imagine this – you’re in need of marketing materials for Facebook Ads. But, if your designer is not focused or well-versed in your brand, the Facebook Ads will not reach your target audience. Or, it will confuse them at best. 

Because of this, a graphic designer that can understand your brand is imperative to the success of the design outcome. In addition, how your designer keeps track of your brand also matters. This determines the cohesiveness of your design requests.

Freelance designers

Pros

  • Can vet for designers that have worked with a similar brand to your own
  • Providing examples can teach the designer about your brand

Cons

  • Little experience with working with large businesses and agencies as clients
  • May not be available to reach at times
  • One time transaction and therefore may not take time to understand brand

On-demand graphic design 

Pros

  • Experienced in working with businesses and agencies as clients
  • Easy to gather, upload all brand documents and send through a single platform
  • Through continuous interactions with same designer, designer can slowly learn about the brand

Cons

  • Takes time to teach designer about brand

When working with on-demand graphic designers, it’s like having a team of creatives behind you. You get a dedicated account manager. Plus, these professional graphic designers also get regular feedback.

Speed

The turnaround time for designs will determine the speed for the rest of your design strategy. For example, if you’re looking for time-sensitive social media posts, the designer must be able to deliver on time. That means the designer that you work with has to be able to work quickly without compromising quality or causing delays.

This goes back to a designer’s experience. You’re not just paying for their creative skill, you’re paying for their ability to produce work within a reasonable timeframe. However, if you have a designer with solely skill and not speed, that will also be detrimental to your end goals. Here’s how freelancers and graphic design services compare.

Freelance designers

Pros

  • If a freelancer has few projects to work on, then you have a monopoly of their time
  • Freelancers work on their own schedule
  • Short turnaround time depending on difficulty of project

Cons

  • Speed depends on the skill of the freelancer which can be hard to measure
  • Freelancer can be working on multiple clients’ projects at once

On-demand graphic design 

Pros

  • 24-48 hour promised turnaround time
  • Revision are completed in 24-48 hours
  • Saves time on vetting designers

Cons

  • Design process may be longer if you need multiple revisions

Overall, an on-demand graphic design’s promise of a 24 to 48-hour turnaround allows you to request more designs in a month. You no longer have to wait for the designs because you know your designer will submit the designs within 24 hours.

Skill Limitations

Understanding the space that you’re operating in is key to the success of any designer. They must know exactly what your project entails and how to execute accordingly. You’ll learn that not everyone is right for the job because although they may be a designer, they may not specialize in what you need them for.

Because of this, you must keep in mind that your project requires specific skillsets. There are general graphic designers, but there are also logo designers, web designers, illustrators, and more. And although a logo designer may understand how to design a web page, they may not be able to create an end product as well as a web designer

Working with Penji is like having various types of designers in one package. Unlike competitors which charge extra for custom illustrations, Penji’s illustrators can offer you unlimited custom illustrations at a fixed monthly rate. Learn more here.

Freelance designers

Pros

  • Can hire a freelance designer with a specific range of skills
  • Freelance designers have a portfolio of work you can view
  • Skill limitations are less of a concern as they are one time hires

Cons

  • Anyone can be a freelance designer with or without training or proper vetting
  • Obstacles may occur if you realize you need different skill set

On-demand graphic design 

Pros

  • All designers have been vetted through a strict hiring process
  • Has a variety of designers with diverse design skill specialties
  • Ability to switch to a different designer upon request with no extra charge

Cons

  • None

Design process

Whether you choose to hire freelancers or use a graphic design service, you’ll experience a different design process every time. It depends on who you work with. Some may even be more organized than others. While you may not always know what you will get in terms of the process, there are ways where you can still maximize your chances of getting the design you want. Here’s what you can do:

  • Be prepared to explain your concept in detail.
  • Give references and links when you can. 
  • Have brand guidelines for your designer to follow.
  • General description of who the end user is.
  • Any examples of past works that you enjoy.

Freelance designers

Pros

  • Preferable for short and direct to the point conversations
  • Design process is straightforward from point A to B with no in-between
  • A mockup can be delivered upon request

Cons

  • Difficult to indicate specific points of revisions by explaining in text
  • Extra charge after a certain number of revisions
  • Not much opportunity to hold a conversation with the designer about the project

On-demand graphic design 

Pros

  • Quality of each design is reviewed and approved before delivered
  • Ability to directly indicate specific points of revisions on the design
  • Variety of designers to choose from
  • Designer can be changed upon request for no extra charge
  • Unlimited revisions for no extra cost
  • Higher chance of satisfactory results due to unlimited revisions
  • Mock-ups can be requested

Cons

  • Cannot monitor the design process in-person

Team collaboration

When you’re hiring a designer, you must think about the longevity of your relationship. For some teams, you’ll need to have someone on for longer than you originally thought. How the designer works with your existing team will determine the success of your projects. You’ll want someone who is dedicated, understands your vision, and is able to work side by side with your team members.

On the other hand, constant rotation can be disruptive to your working environment. Training and retraining take time. And because of this, the quality of work may suffer as well. 

Freelance designers

Pros

  • Freelance designer can be requested to temporarily work in-house 
  • May be willing to speak to your team over the phone or video call
  • No need to build team relationship for a temporary hire

Cons

  • More comfortable working alone
  • Temporary relationship that is terminated once the contract is over
  • No opportunity to build a relationship with the freelancer
  • Relationship with freelancer feels transactional rather than collaborative

On-demand graphic design 

Pros

  • Designers are led by a team leader that oversees the process
  • Multiple employees can access all the materials and conversations with the designers
  • Easy to keep your team informed on the status of the design process
  • Communication is made easy due to the messaging platform
  • Multiple employees can access the project which allows each team member to get involved in the design process

Cons

  • No opportunity to build a personal relationship with the designer due to strictly online interactions

How to hire freelancers

If you choose to explore the option to hire freelancers, there are endless possibilities online. This can get confusing, especially when it comes to the vetting process. While the most common is online marketplaces, you can also find them in forums, social media groups, and referrals. Each hiring process will differ, but for the sake of this guide, we’ll go through the general process of hiring graphic design freelancers from an online marketplace.

Step 1 – Sign up

Choose from hundreds of online marketplaces. Sign up for the one that is of your liking.

Step 2 – Create your profile

Treat your profile as an ad for designers to work with you. It’s a two-way streak. Though you are the one hiring, they have to be attracted to you a well. 

Step 3 – Post a job

If you’re looking for a designer, you probably have a general idea of the design you need. Create a job posting to draw the freelancer that has the skills you want. Be as specific as possible. This step will usually require you to know your budget, type of designer, project details, brand details, and longevity of your relationship with the freelancer.

Step 4 – Review applicants

Once interest starts rolling in, you’ll have the opportunity to look through all the proposals. Depending on the freelancer marketplace, the number and quality of graphic designers will vary. It will be up to you to review every portfolio. Take your time with this step. If you end up with a designer that is not up to par with what you need, you’ll have to start the hiring process over again.

Step 5 – Interview

Select the top graphic design freelancers you want to contact. A tip to keep in mind is to not settle on just one applicant to interview. Reach out via the marketplace’s platform or through email. Again, this will depend on which online marketplace you end up using. Set up a time to chat via phone, Skype, or communication channel of your choice. Be prepared with interview questions and know what type of answers you’re looking for. 

Step 6 – Hiring

Depending on the freelancer marketplace, you’ll either be able hire in-platform or through a method of your choice. Some marketplaces will have contracts set up for you and all you need to do is sign along with the freelancer. If not, you’ll have to prepare your own contract. In addition, payroll details have to be outlined here as well.

Step 7 – Start your first project

You’re ready to begin working on your first project. Communicate what you need from the designer and set a deadline. Each freelancer is different so set your expectations accordingly.

Getting started with your Penji membership

If you’re looking to get more design projects done in a short period of time, Penji is your best bet. As a graphic design freelancer alternative, Penji takes care of the designer vetting process, hiring, and managing of your project progress. 

And, because you’re signing up for a membership, you know what you are paying for every month. You have the freedom to cancel when projects slow down. Don’t believe us? Watch our demo video here to learn more!

Because you’re working with a graphic design service rather than a freelancer, you’ll have more available to you in terms of skill set, turnaround time, completed projects, and easy design process. 

The biggest benefit is predictability. Because the steps are so simple, you have the ability to use design to enhance your strategy, rather than creating a strategy around a complicated design process. 

Here’s how to begin:

Step 1 – Choose a plan

penji

Penji offers 3 plans for you to choose from: Pro, Team, and Agency – Team plan being the most popular. You can enjoy unlimited graphic designs, illustrations, and even UX/UI requests.

Step 2 – Check out

Fill in the fields at the checkout page with your information. Choose if you want to be billed monthly, quarterly, or annually. Then, click Create account.

Step 3 – Submit your first design project

penji platform

On your platform, you’ll be able to access your pending and completed projects from this screen. At the top right corner of your screen, you will see a New Project button. Click that and you will be taken to a new page where you can provide your project details. 

Step 4 – Choose a design type

penji platform

There are many design options available to choose from to help your designer understand what you need. Choose from the options provided. Or, if the design type is not listed, click on Custom project.

Step 5 – Fill out project form

penji platform

Explain in detail what you want for your project. The more information you give, the better the results will be. This is where you will be able to give references, links, visuals, and any other guidelines your designer may need.

Step 6: Review the Initial Draft 

penji platform

Within 24 to 48 hours, your designer will send the initial draft. Review the design and cross check if it has covered all your requirements. If you need revisions, you can hover your cursor to areas where you feel revisions are to be made. Leave your feedback on the comment box.

Step 7. Download and Use the Design 

penji platform

You may now download your designs from the platform and use it right away. It’s that easy! Check out Penji and sign up right now. 

Check Out Some of Penji’s Designs

Logo Design

penji sample

Email Design

penji sample

Menu Design

penji sample

Illustration Design

penji sample

Key Takeaway

Choosing a graphic designer can take awhile, especially if your main focus is quality and turnaround time. While there are many options available online, you have to review the factors that will make the most sense for your goals. 

If you want to have more control over the hiring process, hire freelancers for your graphic design needs. However, if you are more focused on receiving a high number of quality completed projects by the end of the month, a graphic design service is for you.

Both options have their pros and cons. But with the way design is creeping into every company’s marketing strategy nowadays, it’s clear an on-demand graphic design service is vital. It’s high-quality, efficient, flawless, and most especially — affordable. Try Penji for 15 days and thank us later.

Updated April 6, 2021

About the author

Jie is a Marketing Manager and Content Writer for Penji. She has a background in design, technology, and innovation strategy.

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