Every business is different and has a different level of needs, as well as a wide gamut for budgets. Wherever you are on the spectrum I believe there is a designer that can work with you.
Let me kind of break down designers into a few categories starting with the most expensive.
(Designers, please don’t get offended. I don’t mean to rank people or make some sort of archaic caste system, but I do want to be honest and inform people on what they should be looking for).
These are probably going to be the most expensive. And there is a reason for that. When going with an Ad Agency you will probably have a larger team of designers working on your project. It may only be ONE designer working on it, but they will be able to bounce ideas off other designers. There is value in that. Another thing many agencies will do that most other designers won’t is more involved market research. They may do surveys or other things to get more data about your companies brand and how you are perceived. Those types of things take time and money. Larger corporations will usually be who can afford an ad agency.
This will be a seasoned pro. Someone that would probably be hired onto an ad agency. They most likely won’t offer the same level of market research as an agency but they know their stuff. While their price is not the cheapest, they are worth it because of their experience, speed and creativity. Agency work without the agency price. Larger companies to small mom and pop businesses that want to compete with the big boys would go here.
This is probably the category that has the largest difference between designers. These will be people that have gone to school for design or have learned through years’ experience how to design. They will be affordable for most everyone and do good work. Some may just be starting out and learning to craft their art, while others are on the cusp of being able to hire onto an ad agency. Smaller businesses would most likely be their clientele.
These will be people that own the programs to do the work, but have little to no training or experience. They are your cousin’s friend’s friend. They may be taking their first design class in college or have taken a class in high school. They probably charge very little and because they do it more for the experience. They wouldn’t be able to support themselves on what they charge. The files they create may not be up to par for print and may have technical issues. Their clients are most likely people with the top priority of cost. As cheap as I can get it. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. And that is fine. Just know that it is true for designers as much as it is true for anything else. Some people want/need to drive a sports car while others are fine commuting on the bus. They are both transportation but they are also very different and reflect that in the price. Whoever you chose to do your design you should leave happy feeling you got your money’s worth and your designer should feel the same.
Disclaimer for designers: Recognize your work for what it is worth and charge accordingly. Don’t feel like because someone else is practically giving away design services that you have to lower your prices. On the flip side, don’t feel like just because someone else is charging 2-3 times as much as you that you should charge that much too.
Take an honest look at your abilities, time spent, and final product and base your price off what YOU do, not what others do. People will see the value of your work and pay you accordingly and you will find the worth of your work as you do it.