Why Freelancers Can’t Deliver the Same Work as Agencies

The services offered by a freelancer will often overlap with those offered by a design agency. However, one major point of difference is that agencies can typically provide more thought and insight for a project, since there is a larger range of experiences and skillsets coming from a team vs. a single designer.

In addition, an agency will usually offer more diverse perspectives, and will be able to provide a wider and more varied set of design concepts and creative solutions. 

Sometimes, there is a clear answer as to whether a brand should work with a freelancer or a designer. To know what the situation calls for, brand leaders should ask themselves a few important questions:


  • What does the brand already have to work with?


Understanding the volume of deliverables and the level of design strategy involved is vital to the brand’s partner selection. If the brand already has most of the assets that they need for a project, then a freelancer could provide sufficient support.

However, projects that require a deeper level of expertise, strategy, and research would probably be best executed by an agency, which would be able to bring in several designers to work on concepts. For example, a freelancer could handle small revision, but an agency would be better suited for a fulsome project involving photography, messaging exploration, spinning out designs into multiple materials, etc.

This is also not to say that any project is too small for an agency. An agency could definitely work on a small revision, and would be able to offer greater insight as to how to extend this revision strategically into various mediums.


  • Is this a long-term project?


When brands have long-term projects with a specific timeline and multiple deadlines, they often find that a freelancer does not have the capacity to fulfill their needs. Agencies, on the other hand, are able to deliver tight turnarounds by bringing in multiple designers.

Additionally, large projects with multiple deliverables often require a refined file management system. For example, if your brand needs an image from a five-year-old project, a freelancer may A) no longer have it, B) be unreachable, or C) take too long to dig through their backlog to find it. File management is an important supporting service that creative agencies can offer, and even small brands should understand the value of having organized and accessible assets.


  • What is the budget for the project?


If the brand only has a few hundred dollars to do an initial project, it will be difficult for an agency to justify taking on the work. Freelancers are used to working within these kinds of budgets, and would probably be a more comfortable choice. In addition, agencies normally work on a project-by-project basis, whereas freelancers (more often than not) work by hourly rates.

For brands that are able to devote more of their budget to design, it is almost always worth the investment to go with a creative agency. This is not to say that small brands or startups shouldn’t try to work with an agency – a client does not have to be a multimillion-dollar account to be a good match. Fit is everything, and if the brand and the agency are compatible in terms of category, timing, and budget, then a creative partnership is a good opportunity for everyone.

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