When marketers decide to hire external creatives to help with their ad campaign needs, they're faced with a choice: what kind of vendor do you choose? While there are numerous options available, sometimes marketers choose to work with freelance designers. Getting your ad creatives from freelancers does have some benefits, but there are also serious drawbacks to consider. Here are six problems you might encounter if you decide to engage the design services of freelancers.
1. Freelancers: quantity but not quality
The world is full of freelancers. You can visit dozens of websites and be connected to hundreds of freelancers in a matter of minutes. Finding freelancers isn't an issue – but finding a great freelancer who has the creative prowess and industry expertise to execute your vision is like finding a needle in a haystack. If you do choose to work with freelancers, you can expect the process of finding and onboarding the right ones to take almost as long as hiring a full-time person.
2. Freelancers are less reliable
Just like you and I, freelancers have a limited number of hours in the day. As they balance working with multiple clients, this often means you're competing for attention and will experience slower turnaround times. On top of that, freelancers don't have any obligation to work for you, and could disappear completely. If reliability is important to you, you may want to consider other creative solutions.
3. You'll spend a lot of time managing a team of freelancers
If you do decide to work with freelancers, you're going to need to hire several individual contractors. This will require both time and energy on your part. First, you have to find these people, which in and of itself is a tedious process. Contacting a freelancer, reviewing their work and onboarding them will take several hours per person.
Ongoing, you also become the project manager, doling out work and managing questions from a team of disparate contractors. You can see how this isn't ideal for most marketers who are already doing the job of multiple people. After all, isn't the goal of hiring creative help to offload work, not add on more?
4. Crowdsourcing disconnects strategy and design
There's also a new freelance method that's emerged in the market over the past few years: crowdsourced design. Through crowdsourced design, a company can post a creative brief on a digital platform and multiple freelancers respond to the post with their own versions of the ad design. This model is inherently flawed for multiple reasons.
First, freelancers are submitting work to be considered for selection; they haven't officially been selected and are not guaranteed payment. As a result, they're less likely to be invested in the work and don't take as strategic of an approach as they would were they getting paid to think about the client. But who could blame them?
Second, and most important, this model disconnects strategic thinking and the creative process. By submitting a brief and having no further communication with the freelancer, marketers run a huge risk. The freelancer doesn't know your brand, tone of voice, target audience or goals – how can they possibly design work that delivers results?
5. Your schedules are mismatched
Freelancers are just that – free. They're free to work when they want, where they want, and for who they want. Most freelancers choose this line of work because they want the freedom to travel internationally or work outside the traditional 9-5 schedule. This can create scheduling conflicts as you try to work together. First, you'll likely be dealing with an unpredictable, ever-changing schedule. Second, it may be difficult to develop a regular meeting cadence; if you're working across the world from each other in different time zones, it will be difficult to connect ongoing. If you're not interested in working after hours to accommodate your freelancer's schedule, you may want to consider other options.
6. You don't share a culture
Your business has likely worked hard to intentionally develop a culture of shared values. When you bring a freelancer into the mix, you run the risk of having a different values set, which can cause bumps in the road as you work together. For example, if your company operates with a "fail early and fast" approach, but your freelancer doesn't want to share anything but final work with you, you'll be operating on two different planes and your relationship will be laden with frustration. It's in your best interest to seek out freelancers whose values align with yours – but be forewarned, that process can take a lot of time.
If you're ready to hire some outside help to assist with your creative needs and some of these issues resonate with you, you may want to consider foregoing freelancers in search of better options. Luckily for you, there are several alternatives that have more perks.
Agencies could be an option if you have the budget, while often times, a creative marketplace supported by ad technology can provide you with the quality, volume and fast turnaround you need. Whatever combination works for you, be sure to consider all your options when putting together your creative team.