How To Outsource Graphic Design Effectively

Outsourcing your business’ design needs can be a great idea. But you should be sure to do it right. Here’s a complete guide on how and why to outsource graphic design.

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May 10, 2024

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Outsourcing graphic design can be one of the best business decisions you can make. Still, before you take the leap, make sure you understand the different outsourcing options you can choose from and which one works best for you. 

Graphic design is an integral part of your business. From branding to marketing design, the creation of professional visual elements helps you build your brand image, advertise your business and profits.

However, with an average salary of $5,000 a month, plus administrative costs, an in-house designer is something most small businesses and startups can’t afford. Outsourcing helps you cut business costs and access specific skills.

How to outsource graphic design? There are 3 main ways.

  1. Unlimited design companies
  2. Freelancers
  3. Design Agencies

Let’s go over each of these in detail to help you choose the best design outsourcing option. 

Unlimited graphic design service

The third most popular type of graphic design service are definitely subscription-based design services.

If you don’t know what they are, here’s how it works:

  • You can make as many design requests as you want.
  • You have a team of designers at your disposal, with diverse skills and styles.
  • Unlimited revisions are also included in the price.
  • You always pay the same flat monthly fee.

You can see how this type of solution is ideal for anyone who needs design regularly. Most importantly, unlimited services charge between $400 and $1,000 per month, which is a fraction of the cost of a single project done by a design agency. 

For a much smaller price, you get all the upsides of a professional design agency: vast portfolio, big design team, as well as project managers that oversee the design process and help remove any blocks or clear out misunderstandings. 

Unlimited design service: pros

  • Unlimited designs, unlimited revisions: from simpler tasks like marketing materials, to complete brand design, you can make as many requests as you like every month.
  • Affordable: for a couple of hundred dollars per month, unlimited graphic design beats both freelancers (for the long term) and design agencies in terms of budget-friendliness.
  • Simple: if you like the idea of having one service to take care of all your design needs (like an agency), then you’ll love working with unlimited design service
  • No admin: every other type of service requires you to sign some sort of agreement (or it’s advisable in any case), which sometimes comes with additional costs or hours. With an unlimited design service it’s incredibly easy to sign up and you’re free to cancel the service at any time. 

Unlimited design service: cons

  • Not great for one-off projects. It’s very likely that finding a freelancer to complete a single project will be more affordable.
  • It’s not  “personal”. If you’re a fan of good, old meetings, know that this isn’t what you’ll get. Oftentimes, you might develop a really great relationship with a dedicated designer, and many services allow you to specify which designer you want to work with. But most of the time communication happens through chat and not calls or video calls. 

Best unlimited design services

There are many unlimited design companies out there. Here are some of them.


With over 6 years of experience and thousands of happy clients, ManyPixels has a lot to show for. Our scope of services includes all the standard requests (graphic design, illustrations, ) as well as motion graphics and web design. 


We have a relatively small and dedicated team of around 40 designers, who have a proven experience of working with clients and delivering top-quality design. 

Pricing starts at just $549 a month. For more details on how we compare with other services, check out our design services comparison hub. 

Design Pickle

Probably the biggest unlimited design company out there, Design Pickle has a lot to offer. They have a vast scope of services and a huge team of 500+ designers. However, this comes with a downside. With so many designers on board, the levels of experience vary greatly, so there are no guarantees whether you’ll be working with a total beginner or an experienced designer.

Their prices are on the higher end, starting at $1,250 a month. 


Penji is another leading unlimited design service. Their offer is quite similar to ManyPixels with one key difference: the entire scope of services is only available with the most expensive plan (includes web design and motion graphics). Also, you don’t have access to project managers with the lowest plan, which is usually necessary for a smooth design process. 

So, if you want to get the entire scope of services, be prepared to pay $1,497 a month. 


Kimp is an unlimited service that does it all: including video editing and animation. Pricing plans are similar to the norm - $599 for graphic design, $699 for videos, or $995 for both.

Kimp is one of the very few unlimited design services that offer both video and graphic design at this price point. And there’s a reason for it - with unreasonably low prices it’s fair to expect their design team is often overworked and can’t deliver the promised output. The level of quality and creativity is also often below par, which some of the reviews attest to.


It’s reported that 90% of designers in the US work freelance. So there’s definitely no shortage of talented design professionals to work with. The most popular freelancing platforms are Upwork and Fiverr, but there are plenty of great alternatives as well.

Freelancers’ rates vary significantly on their location. For example, the hourly rate of a US-based graphic designer is around $25-$30, while in India and South East Asia they can be as little as $10.

Freelance designers: pros

  • Specialized skills: with so many people freelancing, it’s possible to find someone ideal for pretty much any type of design project. 
  • Flexibility: they’re great for one-off projects as you can only pay for what you need.
  • Affordable: Working with a freelancer design is the most cost-effective solution for one off projects. Thanks to a vast offer, it’s possible to find the perfect designer that also fits your budget.

Freelance designers: cons

  • Expensive in the long run: Freelancers often charge extra for additional revisions, so complex projects can become quite expensive. Moreover, if you need designs regularly, paying hourly or per-project will put a serious dent in your budget. 
  • Divided focus: Freelancers usually balance several clients at the same time, so you can’t expect them to be at your beckon call 24/7. 
  • Communication: language barriers can occur if you decide to hire someone whose first language isn’t the same as yours (although be understanding of the fact that someone is communicating with you in their second language!). Another thing which can be frustrating is the time difference which can sometimes cause delays in completing urgent request

Best freelance platforms

From design marketplaces to general freelancing platforms - there’s no shortage of sites for hiring freelance designers. Here are some of the best ones.

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • Designhill
  • Behance
  • 99Designs 
  • Dribbble

Design agencies

For those who can afford it, there’s arguably no better service than a graphic design agency. It’s not just the expertise, experience and professionalism that count; it’s also the scope of different services

Oftentimes these are full-service agencies with design as well as marketing teams that can help you with anything from developing ideas for your brand to technical optimizations of your web design. 

Top design agencies usually don’t have set fees. Instead, they calculate rates based on the complexity and scope of the project. Another factor taken into account is the size of the client’s company: designing for a large global corporation is obviously much different than designing for a small business with a local reach. 

On an average, a single design project costs several thousand dollars. Logo design stands at around $1,500 to $3,000, while website design usually requires well over $10,000. 

Design agency: pros

  • Professionalism and quality: design agencies usually have a rich portfolio and a team of creative professionals that don’t just create graphics. Instead, they provide cutting-edge solutions and creative directions to move your business forward.
  • Full service: if you don’t just need designs, but rather someone to guide your entire branding and marketing efforts, an agency is an all-in-one solution.

Design agency: cons

  • Expensive: we’ve already said it, but really design agencies, especially for the long term, are usually not within reach for most small businesses.

Best design agencies

We have a pretty extensive list of the best design agencies that you can check out. However, bear in mind that choosing the right agency will depend largely on your budget (industry leaders like Pentagram don’t even take on regular clients, and charge astronomical feels). 

Also, if you want to develop a more personal relationship with a design team, choosing a design agency near you is the best choice.

Why outsource graphic design

More than a passing trend, outsourcing is quickly becoming the norm for most businesses in the US: in January 2023, Clutch reported that 83% of businesses were planning to maintain or increase their spending on outsourced services. According to 2019 data, over a third (37%) of small businesses are outsourcing at least one operation, and over a half planned to do so. 

According to Deloitte’s 2022 outsourcing survey, these are top reasons for outsourcing

  • Costs reduction (57%)
  • Flexibility (51%)
  • Access to specific skills (49%)

So what does this mean in the world of graphic design outsourcing?

As we’ve demonstrated, . Hiring an in house designer will set you back at least $5,000 a month. Working with freelance designers and unlimited design services comes at a fraction of that cost (usually below $1,000 a month)

There are many types of graphic design and it’s impossible for one person to be a master of them all. Designing a user-friendly app interface requires a totally different skill set than creating a stunning custom illustration. When you outsource design, you can always have the best person for each design project.

Finally, with modern design solutions you never have to worry about fixed contracts. Scale up or down as you go, and always have high quality designs, for whatever purpose. 

Why you shouldn’t outsource graphic design

There’s no getting around the importance of graphic design. However, in some cases hiring a person from the outside simply isn’t a good idea. Here’s when business owners shouldn’t outsource graphic design:

You’re building a company culture.

If you already have your own design team and want to get some extra help from the outside, make sure everyone is on the same page first. If your own employees feel threatened by the prospect, don’t do it: studies show that stress in the workplace can increase resignations by 50%. Don’t lose your team spirit or your team just because you wanted to save some money!

You can’t retain ownership of your brand.

It’s perfectly fine to outsource technical, administrative, and yes—even creative tasks. But remember that you need to be in control of your brand (image). If someone else is planning, writing and designing for your brand, eventually it will stop being your brand.

Take Apple’s example instead: while most of their manufacturing is outsourced, the core design is still done in-house. Anyone can make a smartphone; only Apple can make it an iPhone.

You can’t help micromanaging.

No one wants to admit they micromanage, but still, some people do it. If you don’t want to call it by this ugly name, at least think carefully about how comfortable you are with design happening out of sight. If it’s just going to make you more doubtful and stressed than usual, spare everyone the frustration and stick to hiring an in-house design team.

Which design outsourcing option should you choose?

Now that we’ve covered the main pros and cons of different design outsourcing options, we’ll try to give you an idea of what might be the best option for you.

Although it’s unlikely you’ll only ever need just one design, if you want some outside help to your in-house team freelancers are probably going to deliver the best ratio of quality and affordability.  You might get very lucky with a design contest, but it’s best to take it first as a brainstorming step, rather than expect polished designs right away.

If you need designs done regularly, the only sensible options are hiring an in-house designer or an unlimited graphic design service. A single designer will likely be a bit more expensive and won’t necessarily have all the skills for different types of projects, but they will have a deep understanding of your brand and target audience, so they can be a good fit for small local businesses.

An unlimited graphic design service is a great option for both smaller businesses looking to save on design, as well as teams and agencies who need diverse, quality designs delivered fast.


Finally, if you want to tackle a really big project, like a global rebrand or a complete website design from scratch (including web development) hiring an agency can be worth your while.

Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.

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