As a freelance graphic designer, I’ve come across a few myths in regards to my chosen profession.
People seem to have some understandable, and sometimes strange, objections or concerns to hiring a freelancer. Hopefully this should clear some of those up.
Myth 1: Freelancers are free
It’s pretty bad I need to cover this one, but there seems to be a prevalent attitude among the general public that freelance designers are, well, free. I suppose having the word “free” in there might be to blame.
The prevalent attitude among the general public that freelance designers are free. Click To Tweet
The word itself comes from the Middle ages, when there were basically two types of knights working.
One was what you might consider an “in-house” knight; he worked solely for one king. Then there were the “free lancers,” or knights who were available on demand to anyone that would pay them. They were “free” in the sense that they didn’t owe their allegiance to anybody.
Now today a freelancer can be any working professional who’s available on hire without previous commitments, to numerous employees. But yes, you still have to pay them.
Myth 2: Freelancers aren’t professionals
Maybe this has to do with that whole “free” thing again.
Oftentimes, freelance designers are just like any other designer working at a large firm or as an in-house designer for a company.
The only difference is that, for various reasons, they’ve decided to go on the solo path. With this comes more freedom and flexibility, to be sure, but also more responsibility.
Freelancers have to be self-starters and be highly motivated and independent. They must have good marketing and interpersonal skills, otherwise they’ll soon run out of clients. Their financial books must be kept clean and project management needs to be a high skill.
All in all, more and more working professionals are making the switch over to freelancing, because to most of them, it just makes more sense and the rewards are plentiful. By some estimates, in the next 10 years, over 40 percent of working adults will be freelancers.
Myth 3. Freelancers aren’t trustworthy.
The correct phrase should be: some freelancers aren’t trustworthy. Granted, some people are just not trustworthy or reliable, period. But the flip side of that is some businesses, even large ones, can be untrustworthy.
How to tell the difference? Well, obviously, it pays to research.
Check out the freelancer’s work and their portfolio. Ask yourself some questions: does it look look like they spent a lot of time and effort on their work? Did the project objectives seem to have been met? Quality is hard to fake.
Look at their references: often, reliable design freelancers will have testimonials and references available, especially if you ask. If a freelancer doesn’t have any reviews or testimonials that are positive, watch out!
And finally, see how long they’ve been around; their reputation should precede them. And if all else passes but you’re still not convinced, call them up for an in-person consultation. Either you’re going to have a good feeling about them or not; go with your gut.
Myth 4. A freelancer doesn’t have the resources available for my project.
Well, yes and no. It depends on what your project is. If you’re Apple and you want your new iPad Air packaging designed with custom illustrations, die-cuts, and engineering that would make the heads at NASA spin, well, yes it might be better to call up a large firm.
But in reality, not many projects look like that. And even if they did, most good freelance designers have the resources available to make it happen. For example, I collaborate with copywriters, web developers, illustrators, and other designers for when my skills fall short.
But practically, the only resources needed are strong design skills, the proper software and equipment, and the know-how to use it. A formal education in design helps, along with some solid real-world experience. Which a freelancer should have if they are going to call themselves a graphic designer.
Myth 5. It’s a disadvantage to have just one person working on a project.
Again, it depends on what the project is. For a 1,000 page annual report of a Fortune 500 company, it might be a good idea to hire on a whole team. For anything smaller, a single freelancer can handle it.
And don’t forget, when it comes to good design, less is more. Especially when people’s opinions come into play.
When a whole team of designers are involved on a project, it’s easy for the design to get watered down with everyone’s individual idea of what it should look like. Sometimes a strong idea takes root; oftentimes, it’s the dreaded design by committee. With a freelancer, you have one person working with you on it from start to finish.
You are almost always guaranteed that a freelancer will have a personal investment in you. Click To Tweet
Also, with a freelancer, you are almost always guaranteed that they will have a personal investment in you. They are more likely to be as passionate about your project as you are, and delight in the full process of researching it, brainstorming, seeing the design take shape, getting your feedback, and working closely with you from start to finish.
With agencies, it’s unusual for a single person to be involved in all those steps with you, so it’s hard for anyone working there to have any real vested interest in you or your project. You may very well just be a number to them, instead of a real person with vision and dreams.
Do you have any remaining misconceptions or ideas about freelancing?
Is it better to hire a freelancer or a design agency? Why or why not?