In today's fast-paced business world, sign companies need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to design. Whether it's creating a new logo, developing concepts, or developing a wayfinding sign package, design is a critical element to help push the sale of a sign job forward. However, when it comes to hiring architectural graphic designers, sign companies have two options: freelance/contract designers or in-house designers. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice depends on a variety of factors. 

Freelance/contract sign designers are independent contractors who work on a project-by-project basis. They can work remotely or on-site, and they are typically paid by the hour or by the project. Freelancers/contract sign designers are often used for short-term projects or to supplement an in-house team during peak workloads. 

One of the main advantages of working with a freelance sign designer is flexibility. Freelancers or contractors can be hired on an as-needed basis, which can be especially useful for small businesses or startups that may not have a consistent need for design work. They can also offer a wider range of skills and expertise than an in-house designer, who may be limited to the skills and knowledge of their specific role. 

Another advantage of hiring a freelance/contract sign designer is cost. Freelancers are typically paid per project or hour, so sign companies only pay for the work they need. In contrast, hiring an in-house designer requires a salary, benefits, and other overhead costs, which can be a significant expense for a business. 

However, there are also some disadvantages to working with freelance designers. One of the main challenges is communication. Freelancers may work remotely, which can make it more difficult to collaborate and ensure that the project meets the business's needs. Additionally, freelance designers may be working on multiple projects at once, which can result in longer turnaround times and a lack of availability. 

On the other hand, in-house designers are employees who work for the company full-time. They are typically part of a larger design team and are dedicated to the company's specific design needs. In-house designers are often used for long-term projects or ongoing design needs. 

One of the main advantages of hiring an in-house designer is consistency. In-house designers are familiar with the company's brand and design style, which can ensure that all design work is consistent and aligned with the company's overall vision. Additionally, in-house designers are often more available and responsive than freelance designers, which can lead to faster turnaround times. 

However, hiring an in-house designer can also be expensive. In addition to the salary and benefits, businesses need to provide resources, equipment, and office space for the designer. Additionally, in-house designers may be limited in their skills and expertise, as they are focused on the specific needs of the company. 

Ultimately, the decision to hire a freelance or in-house designer depends on the specific needs of the sign company itself. Smaller sign companies or startups may find that hiring a freelance designer on a project-by-project basis is more cost-effective and flexible. However, larger sign companies with ongoing design needs may benefit from having an in-house design team and a freelance partnership that can provide consistency and dedicated support to keep the design process as streamlined as possible. 

Overall, the cost of hiring a freelance sign designer can vary significantly depending on the specific circumstances of the project. It's important to carefully consider the scope of the work involved, the level of experience and expertise required, and the overall budget before deciding whether or not to hire a freelance sign designer. It is crucial to keep in mind that price shouldn’t necessarily be the deal breaker when looking at the budget. Forming a relationship with a freelance designer or contract designer who has extensive experience in the sign industry, which in turn can benefit your profits, gives the argument that price isn’t the most important piece of the decision to work with a freelance designer. 

In conclusion, both freelance and in-house designers have their advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice depends on the specific needs of your sign company. By understanding the pros and cons of each option, you as the owner can make an informed decision that will help them achieve your design goals and succeed in today's competitive world of signs.