So you have a project and you’ve decided to hire a professional. Kudos to you. You are already heading in the right direction! So where do you go? Who do you call? Well, the answer depends on your needs, budget, and time frame.


Advertising and Marketing Agencies often attract a large crop of talented individuals, and should you be lucky enough to work with their top dog you could come out of it with a really stellar piece. Agencies are often a one-stop shop and aim to take care of every aspect of the project from the writing, images, design, printing, and delivery. But you will pay a premium for those services. Agency mark-ups on goods and services such as printing can be as high as 30%! And because of the more corporate structure, you may need additional lead time for project completion. But if you are a large company with a lot of projects and you don’t want to be bogged down with having to do anything other than approve the final piece, then an agency is for you!


A nice alternative to agencies are in-house design departments. Many printers offer all of the services that traditional agencies do. They too are able to draw very talented individuals, but you’re more likely to pay a lower rate since they won’t be sub-vending parts of your project out for a marked-up rate. Another bonus to working with an in-house department, especially a printer, is that they have advanced knowledge of printing protocols and will be sure your project will looks it’s best. And, because they can control the status of the project from start to finish they can be a great option for those last minute rush jobs. So if you specifically have a print job and you want agency quality design at a lower price, an in house printer might be the perfect place for you!


But what about projects that you might have a smaller budget for? Or maybe you are a start up company with a lot of needs and not a lot of money? There are two options for you as well – template shops and freelancers.


Template shops offer low package rates on things like websites and logos. Often times you can simply review samples online and purchase the one you like. Others boast that several designers will work on your project to come up with your initial designs. In either case, even if the project is slightly customized to you, the general features of the project are cookie cutter style. You and twenty other people may own the same looking site. This is one of the cheapest option available, and if you are not in need of something that is completely unique to you, then its a great option for your needs.


Another great value to fulfill your low-cost, quality design needs is to hire a freelancer. A freelancer is an individual graphic designer, located anywhere around the world, who can design your project for an agreed upon rate or fee. Most freelance designers have agency and printing experience, but don’t have the overhead costs of an agency or in-house department – hence the lower rate.  In addition, they can be more accommodating to your timeframe – often working nights and weekends to complete your project quickly. It may take a little more legwork on your end to check the portfolios and references of a designer and determine if they meet your needs, but with the right fit you can get agency quality design at a mere fraction of the cost.


Post written by KRSmith at



ProjectCenter is a single-source service company providing marketing and document solutions to small, medium and large-sized businesses in the U.S. area. ProjectCenter is based in Phoenix, Arizona and its services include graphic design, web design, printing, copying, scanning and mailing. For more information, please call (602) 252-6655 or visit or follow us at


There are 2 comments for this post.

  1. Ben Tyers on April 16, 2009 6:51 am

    An informative article about freelancing. Thanks

  2. Thai on May 29, 2009 4:46 pm

    This is a great overview of the industry. More prospective clients should have an understanding of this before making their decisions on who to use.

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