Outsourcing makes the world go ‘round. It makes it possible for companies to serve their clients efficiently by delegating tasks to others who can do them better, cheaper, and in many cases, both. One prominent example of outsourcing is how Apple’s products are manufactured by Foxconn and Samsung. By having other companies build their iPhones and Macbooks, Apple can focus on developing its proprietary software and furthering its brand.
The big guys aren’t the only ones who outsource—small and medium-sized businesses, agencies and nonprofits do it too. Over the past decade, online freelancing marketplace (like ngoutsource.com) have made it very easy for small business owners to outsource graphic design work with no risk of losing money.
If you’re a digital agency, you’re already involved in the outsourcing chain; your clients come to you for work they can’t or don’t want to produce in-house. And you yourself may outsource work, for example by hiring an accountant to do your taxes (instead of having a full-time employee handle them).
Initially, the thought of outsourcing work can seem counter intuitive. It might even feel like cutting corners. After all, your clients hire you because they expect the quality work you provide. But it’s not scrimping, it’s a sophisticated, pragmatic move when you’re growing your business. And outsourcing doesn’t mean a drop in the quality of the work your clients receive. There are a lot of freelancers here on ngoutsource who can provide the same quality of work—or better—than an in-house employee.
The economics of outsourcing graphic design
Every business owner’s goal is to scale their company into something bigger, something that can serve the market better. Agencies shouldn’t be any different. Outsourcing fits right into a scaling plan because:
- It’s a smaller upfront economic investment than hiring an employee. Choosing to work with a freelancer gives you the flexibility to get work done when you need it, rather than having somebody on staff, costing a salary and employment benefits when work is slow
- It saves you time. Remember, time = money. If you have four freelancers working on individual projects simultaneously, you can deliver all four within roughly the same time frame and quadruple your profit.
Having the designer on staff is still an asset to the company, but it’s an expensive asset even when there’s enough work to support a full time designer position. When there isn’t enough work to justify a 40-hour week for the designer, their compensation can cut into profits quickly while the designer’s skills stagnate as they stay bound to one company, rather than pursuing freelance projects.
What if you already produce great design work? Would it ever make sense for you to consider outsourcing work?
The answer is yes. Here’s why:
You might be a great marketing agency, but are you a great real estate marketing agency? By choosing a graphic designer who focuses on one particular niche, you can expect a finished product that fits your client’s needs more accurately. Niches aren’t just specific industries, either. If you’re working with clients who want more technical-looking graphics, work with a graphic designer who has a background in CAD to deliver exactly what the client wants.
Sometimes, time isn’t the issue that drives a company to outsource its graphic design, but specialization is. Your in-house designer might be awesome at logo designs, but not have much experience with merchandise packaging designs. Instead of having your graphic designer create a good-enough packaging design to sell to the client, outsource the project to a freelancer who specializes in product packaging and who can knock it out of the park.
Breaking out of the box
Outsourcing can also help your company expand into a new niche or offer services outside your typical offerings to give the client what they want. Say your experience is strictly in web design, and you want to expand into print work. Working with a freelancer who has a strong background in print design can help your company bridge that gap and deliver work that exceeds the client’s expectations.
Outsourcing work is an effective way to work with fresh ideas. Bringing in a freelancer is bringing in outside creativity that can inspire the rest of your team. They’ll approach your project from a different angle and bring innovation to your company’s designs.
A great way to find the freelancer who’ll bring an outside perspective that complements your agency’s workflow needs, rather than clashing with them, is to create a Graphic Job Request on ngoutsource.com. A variety of freelancers with unique approaches to your request will contact you for your request, then you can choose whose work is a best fit for the design you need to deliver. Alternatively, you can curate bids in a similar way by sending your project needs to a few trusted freelancers on ngoutsource, then making your choice based on their drafts.
Adapting to varying workflow demands
As you know, your agency has busy times and slow times. When outsourcing graphic design is part of your business plan, you can adapt to the volume of work you’re facing at any time. More work? More freelancers. Only a little bit of work? Hire one designer to take care of it. Businesses rarely scale at a consistent pace. Speed up the process (and slow it down when you need to) by hiring the number of freelancers you need to meet the demand you’re facing without having to take time to hire and onboard new employees at specific growth benchmarks.
Outsourcing is also a way to get overflow work done—there might be less glamorous design tasks (like a bunch of banner ads) that you need to do. Freelancers are great for this!
And of course, outsourcing work can get it done faster. If your in-house designer already has five projects on her plate when a new one comes in, don’t bog her down with a sixth. Outsource that project to somebody who can get on it immediately.