Is the design subscription model right for you?

Design subscription model

Productized design services/design subscription model have taken the design world by storm. But is it the right fit for you as a designer?

Here at GhostlyPixels, we haven’t ever offered any design services. And we’re not going to either. Our focus has always been on creating design resources and digital products for designers to make their jobs easier with high quality assets. We're talking about it today as it has probably been on most designers minds at some point over the past year. If you're a designer wanting to learn more about how this model could work for you, then read on :)

What are subscription design services?

Productized services take a service and bundle it up into a product that can be purchased “off the shelf”. Similar to a house painting service for X price, a productized design services provide a design service for a set price. Subscription services take it a step further and set the service as a recurring fee. Design Pickle was first to market for graphic design and has popularized the service by making plans affordable for as little as $499/mo for “unlimited” design services. They have proven success with the model and grown into a large company. Others have jumped on the bandwagon, with DesignJoy’s founder making $1M+ per year with his premium design services as a one-man design studio.

Is productized subscription service right for you as a designer?

It depends, and nobody can really answer that but you, and perhaps you won’t be able to answer it until you experiment with the model yourself. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons together.

How fast do you design? What’s your design experience level?

If you’re a junior level designer, you may consider getting more experience under your belt before pursuing the subscription model. Many subscription design services promise short turnaround times like 2 business days. The designers that have found success with the model tend to be more experienced designers with rich design skillsets under their belt. All designers at Arcade Design have at east 10+ years of experience. Their experience allows these designers to jump right into high-fidelity designs and still deliver high quality work. Subscription agency designers also tend to be fast. There isn’t time for a discovery day or getting back to the client next week with a concept. The model demands constantly delivering quality work for multiple clients at a short timeframe.

Do you want more predictable revenue?

Tired of the feast or famine cycle of the traditional agency model? You get a big project and a chunk of money comes in. You’re riding his for a bit until the money starts to run out, then you’re in panic mode again trying to find more work. If you’re tired of this cycle, you might consider starting your own subscription service which can result in more consistent and predictable revenue once you have a handful of clients. Of course they’ll be some churn as clients pause or cancel their subscription, but not to the extent of the on/off again traditional freelance model that some designers find themselves stuck in. That being said, there are plenty of design freelancers who follow the traditional freelance model that have built predictable revenue for themselves and are booked out months in advance.

Do you enjoy the discovery phase?

In order to make themselves profitable, most design subscription designers tend to eliminate entire swaths of the process that some designers pride themselves on. Do you relish the design thinking process? Do you enjoy the research and exploration phases of a project? Do you love the low-fidelity sketching and ideation of a process, taking weeks or months on a logo? If so, a design subscription agency probably wouldn’t be a great fit for you. Subscription agencies tend to eliminate much of this process and skip straight to high-fidelity designs. While this may be sacrilege to some designers, this can offer a huge benefit to their customers. Instead of waiting weeks or months for a logo, a subscription agency can deliver it in a matter of days.

There you have it. A few of our thoughts on the model. Only you will know if the model is worth exploring. We wish you luck either way :)

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