Freelancers Working Direct with BIG Companies

I’m a retail design freelancer and I typically get the bulk of my work from brand/marketing agencies and manufacturers of POP displays. I’ve done work for some big multinational and national companies over the years but it has always been via my client so I rarely get to pitch my ideas, follow through on development or get involved in the manufacturing process.

I’m beginning to feel I could offer a lot of expertise and increase my exposure by working directly with these companies, so I’m working on a self marketing program to pitch myself to large multinational companies. I must state, I am NOT going after any of my clients clients… I’m not in the habit of biting off the hand that feeds me. There are however a lot more companies out there to pitch to.

So, my question is… are there any individuals out there who work independently with large multinational companies ?
What services or benefits can you offer that they can not get through a design agency or manufacturer directly ?
Does your client know you are an individual or do you pitch yourself as a ‘company’ ?

I have my pitch but I’m interested to see if there is anything I may have missed that might help my argument to work with me directly.


ouch… no one ?

I have a couple like that but those I got from previous relationships (used to work fulltime for them or through that type of network). I’m about to do the same thing, but I don’t have any experience approaching places cold that I have no previous connection with. A few have approached me but for things I didn’t really specialize in at the moment so I had to pass.
But one thing I think you’d be able to offer them is the feeling that they have more connection to the design. They’ll be talking directly with the guy doing it (you) so you don’t have the “telephone game” of misunderstandings that come from hearing the brief 3 people removed that can possibly happen if dealing with a bigger firm. I think that may be one of the biggest selling points, them feeling closer to the design instead of handing it off to a firm and just seeing what they get back in 2 weeks. They’ll probably want to interact with you more and if you’re available, it can be more like they’re using an inhouse designer that’s just telecommuting.

Yeah cold calling like that is brutal… can’t say I’m a big fan but even if you get just one spark of interest it makes it all worth it.

I’m planning on sending out a really nicely printed & bound brochure that clearly highlights what I do, how I do it and why they should consider working directly with me. Accompanied with a cover letter that speaks directly to them and their market, all put together in a printed quality envelope… I am hoping the attention to detail I put into it all (paper quality etc.) will make them realise they’d be working with someone who really cares and not just some 9-5 desk jockey.

One big part of working with BIG companies is getting through their bureaucracy and through the hoops to get on their approved vendor list. This is so the controllers have a legitimate business in the system for payments, and everyone is more or less covered in case there is a problem - especially if you’re going to require some up front money to start

That should probably be your second conversation, if one of your brochures sparks some interest: How to get on that vendor list.
Sounds like you’ve got a good approach. If you get it to the right people you should get some response. Best of luck.

We will quite often have new vendors that we have either come across online, been recommended, or that have cold called or sent us an email that spikes our interest come in and give us their selling presentation and just see what they can do. With this said, in order for us to talk to them about any projects, show them our R&D space or expose them to any sensitive info they need to sign an NDA. That believe it or not can be a big process. We have to get our legal group involved and can be a real pain. So I guess what I am trying to say is you have to knock our socks off. Sounds a bit egotistical, but that is the way the company works.

The info above is the other hurdle. Just because you sign that NDA does not mean you will get work or paying work. I do not believe in this, but have seen some of my colleagues take advantage of new vendors by “testing their capabilities” or having them work on mock-ups and creating concepts without giving them real business. You have to remember that when you freelance for a large corporate company they are not only hiring you but they are also working with the big fish out there as well. What takes you x amount of time takes the big guy half the time because they have more people. One the flip side you are probably half the cost. Also the big Manufacturing guys like Graphics Packaging do development work and mock-ups for free because of the amount of business that they are pulling in.

The good news is that once you make that list you are golden as long as you do a great job and make good relationships!!! :smiley:

You touched on something there that I think will leave me dead in the water. It’s an industry wide issue that I think needs to be addressed because as designers it turns our talents and skills into a commodity. Hopefully someone somewhere will see the value I can bring to the table.

I just got feedback from a designer friend of mine in the UK and he reckons I should pitch myself as an agency rather than an individual… but then I feel I’m just another ‘company’ rather than selling my individual skills and personality to them.

What do you guys think… independent designer or design agency ?

Why not both? You should probably set yourself up as some kind of business entity anyway, and why not call yourself “Loafer Design, Inc.”, or your other name :wink:, and get set up with a business license. You can and the client can figure out the details of whether or not you have people working for/with you later

I know this guy he is working pretty well with his lovely parnter.
But if you don’t get into detail of his site, the first glimpse you
probably have is that he is the only guy doing design for his clients.

This is his website:

Thanks you guys, this question is also my interest.

“how to look bigger than you are” - core77 article

Hey Travisimo,
Thanks for your sharing! That article was good!!