Should Your Creative Team Hire or Outsource?


The Digital Era Demands Infinitely More Creative

Ad lifespans and audience attention spans are shrinking, which means creative workloads are increasing to fight the fatigue. In the process, your mighty in-house creative team is often stretched to the limit.

  • 72% of teams can’t keep up with the volume of requests.
  • 77% say timelines are getting shorter.
  • 82% also say the problems are just getting worse.

Welcome to the creative roller coaster—the daily experience of in-house creative teams at high-growth mid-market and enterprise companies. With all the ups and downs, strategy wavers.

How do you hold on?

As you help your team brace for each twist and turn, you’ll hire for roles that make sense for your team and your business. However, you’ll also outsource to help balance skill and capacity gaps.

No matter which path you choose, identifying what lies ahead will help you be more prepared. 


Resource-strapped creative leaders in fast-moving enterprise companies


To adapt creative capacity and capabilities dynamically, elevating the team and the creative


There are contexts for hiring and outsourcing, the art is in determining what's right for your team
Step 1

Make Sure You Have the Time and Resources to Hire

Deciding to hire someone isn’t as simple as hanging out a help wanted sign.

First, you have to determine, to the best of your knowledge, that you have the need for this position and that it’s in your best interest to invest your time and energy into the hiring, training and retention process.

It goes without saying that talented employees elevate and inspire the entire team. They share their expertise, get to know your brand and build relationships throughout the business.

As you go down the path of hiring, be aware of the following:

  • Not only will you be investing in the cost of salaries—with the average cost for a mid-level design lead pegged at $86,530—you’ll also have to account for benefits and overhead expenses, like training and the design and communication tools the employee will use on a daily basis.
  • Hiring takes time. According to recent studies, you can expect a timeline of about 44 days to fill an open position.
  • If, for any reason, your new hire doesn’t work out, replacing an employee can cost up to 4X the original salary—not to mention starting the entire process all over again.

While embarking on your hiring journey, you’ll probably also explore outsourcing for specific projects, capabilities or workloads so that you can free up your team to focus on the work that needs to stay in-house.

🚀 Steal this framework: Pinpoint creative skill and capacity gaps [Dowloadable template included]
Step 2

Know the Pros and Cons of Outsourced Design Partners

These days, a hybrid approach of building a solid in-house team and providing support with key outsourcing partners is par for the course.

When choosing between freelancers, agencies and Creative-as-a-Service (CaaS), consider the variables of speed, simply getting a job done quickly, and scale, actioning larger more complex projects.

When the time to completion is your overriding objective, you’re likely to consider using a freelancer or working with a CaaS partner. When scale is your priority, you’ll lean toward agencies or a CaaS partner.

Step 3

Choosing Between Freelancers and CaaS

Many in-house teams turn to freelancers for quick-turn requests.

But, because most freelancers are teams of one, there’s only so much capacity any single freelancer can provide—meaning they can’t be available for every assignment every time. Furthermore, differing ranges of skills and experience also affect quality and consistency.

On your own, it takes a lot of time to build relationships and get to a point where you have a cadre of go-to freelancers.

CaaS solutions solve this problem, carefully assembling and vetting a global network of top-tier design talent for a comprehensive range of creative services available whenever you need them. Partners, like Superside, also provide dedicated project managers who assign and manage talent on your behalf.

🤿 Deep Dive: Compare Freelancers, Agencies and CaaS
Step 4

Choosing Between Design Agencies and CaaS

While agencies bring together a specialized grouping of talent, ideal for projects that require a greater range of expertise, it’s the agency model itself that creates the greatest barrier to success.

The process of pitching and negotiating project rates and retainers slows down the process of actually getting started. Setting the scope in stone also means that there’s very little room for change.

Inspired by agencies, CaaS providers have the ability to build specialized teams to meet your needs, all while allowing for changes, shifting priorities and accelerated timelines.


Make the Choice That’s Right for You

You know yourself, your team and your business. There will be times when it’s right to hire, outsource or do both. The same is true for the outsourcing partner or partners you choose.

For instance, as a CaaS solution, Superside is best suited for high-growth scale-up, mid-market and enterprise teams. Plus there will likely be instances where an individual freelancer or a specific agency makes the most sense.

The purpose of this playbook was simply to provide pathways to help guide your thoughts.

Inside advice: How other creative teams have leveraged CaaS

Hear why brands like Reddit, Articulate, Mitto and Clari chose Superside and some of the different ways they leverage CaaS. Oh, and say hi to Piotr Smietana, Director of Brand and Marketing Creative at Superside.


You might also want to read


Why choose Creative-as-a-Service with Superside?

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Improve your marketing performance

Improve your marketing performance

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Be more agile & responsive

Be more agile & responsive

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Elevate your team

Elevate your team

Allow your in-house creatives to focus on more strategic projects. Get new ideas & continuous design inspiration.

Save time & be more cost-efficient

Save time & be more cost-efficient

Increase your design capacity without additional hiring and with fewer vendors to manage.

Superside is a revolutionary way for businesses to get good design done at scale.Trusted by 450+ ambitious companies, Superside makes design hassle-free for marketing and creative teams. By combining the top 1% of creative talent from around the world with purpose-built technology and the rigor of design ops, Superside helps ambitious brands grow faster. Since inception, Superside has been a fully remote company, with more than 700 team members working across 57 countries and 13 timezones.
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