Can You as a Freelance Designer Compete with Bigger Companies?

We’ve talked about freelancing, – what to do and how to do it. In this article we’re gonna have a look at some of your stronger and weaker sides compared to bigger Design Companies. By reading this you’ll get an idea of how you can compete even better and which things to focus on when selling your designs and services to new clients.

One of the main things that designers think through before going freelance is the benefits compared to working in a company. Then they often think about if they’ll be able to get the same size on the paycheck and so on.

One thing I believe should be way up on that list is to compare what you can offer to your clients when you’re freelance, compared to what a design company can do. You’ll be quite likely to struggle a little bit with getting clients to choose you if you’re new in the game and they have dealt with a bigger company in the past.

If you know some of the major differences and keep these in mind it will be easier to sell them the package you have to offer, while eliminating some of the risks that the clients are facing.

Now let’s have a look at some of the differences for a client. We know there are several more, and would love to hear your own tips in the comments!

By chosing bigger companies

A more extensive portfolio

Bigger companies have more designers and they have more extensive portfolios. This can be a challenge for you when you’ve just started up. This being said, you should focus on building up a really good portfolio for yourself. Include a good variety of your very best work, and remember to show your versatility. The power of a good portfolio should never be underestimated!

More versatility

As bigger companies have more workers, they’re also usually a lot more versatile than what you are. Don’t let this get you down though. If you’re really good at listening to the client, you will be able to compensate for this mostly. The designers also have great opportunities to get feedback from each other and work together on projects involving several products/services.

Not vulnerable to people being away

In a bigger company there’s usually someone who can step in if a designer is sick or has to be away for other reasons. When you’re a freelancer this can be a potential risk for the client. There’s not a whole lot to do about this other than having good communication with the client and look for options on how to solve things if you have to be away for a day or two.

Better prices/more extras

This doesn’t always have to be the case, in some cases it can actually be the opposite but we’re including it here anyway. Bigger companies can afford doing projects where they lose money if they’re part of a bigger plan. This means that sometimes they can throw in an extra product or service when negotiating with the client.

More stable

I’ve had the question from clients several times: But what do I do if you’re out of business tomorrow? Bigger companies have a more stable economy and a better economical core, where freelancers can be very vulnerable to changes. One of the ways to solve this can be to have the client pay after a project is done, or at least very late in the process. This usually makes them feel more comfortable if it’s a case to begin with.

By chosing a freelancer

A more personal service

This is many times your strongest selling point. The fact that you are the one they will be in touch with in every stage of the process can be a great advantage. This will prevent clients from having to deal with several different designers and make sure that the chance of misunderstandings is a lot smaller. My tip is to use this actively when trying to get a deal with a new client.

Freelancers often “give more”

This is a fact in many cases and it can be both good and bad. For the clients this is usually a good thing. As freelancers depend more on each project, they also tend to give a lot more during the process. It’s not uncommon that we give our phone numbers for clients to reach us outside of regular work hours, and meetings after hours/during weekends happens a lot more with freelancers than with regular employees in bigger companies. Obviously you should try to get your deserved time off to recharge the batteries in-between work, but this can be used as a final selling point to tip the client in your direction.

More characteristic designs

Being able to show versatility is important, and so is having a design style. Where companies have many different designers with different looks, you as a freelancer will most likely build your own look over time. This can be a great selling point for you and clients will often get very happy with this. In a market today where many designs look similar (logos, websites and so on) a look that stands out is a good thing. If you’ve made a good portfolio, clients will be very likely to fall for this point.

Better prices

In general, freelancers are many times able to give better prices. This point was on the company side as well, but there a little bit different. Where you as a freelancer can’t give anything away for free, you are still likely to be able to get a lower price range on most things. Bigger companies have more costs to cover, and along with the other advantages from chosing a company, clients have to pay a bit more. Don’t under price your services but be aware that as long as you’re not being extremely expensive, you’re probably cheaper to use than a company.

They’re helping

Some companies/clients are actually very interested in helping out new designers and/or local ones. This can be a good reason for them to choose you. By letting them understand that you’re thinking forward and have a good plan for the future, they can be more than happy to help you out by choosing you. For many designers, starting out in the local community can be a great way to start building up a portfolio and getting some practice before stepping out into the rest of the world.

Conclusion

Being a freelance designer can be hard, that’s no secret. Remember to read up and know what you’re dealing with and you can be in for many good surprises along the way. By knowing how to sell your services and being a serious competitor, you can land many deals from this. Never talk bad about any competitors but know what your forces are and use them in your sales pitch. If you have a client or two saying no, don’t give up! With time you will get a more extensive portfolio, good and loyal clients and a great reputation. When you get there you’ll get even more clients.

Good luck!

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