5 min read

The Rise of The Subscription Workforce - Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Ignore it

Published on
June 11, 2024
A blue background with someone holding a phone and a chat icon coming out of the phone that reads 'subscription'
Leah Camps
Marketing Executive
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The Subscription Workforce is growing in popularity as all business sizes look to streamline internal processes and make them as efficient as possible. The questions are - what is a subscription workforce and why make that switch?

In this article, we’re going to discover the power of the subscription workforce - what it can do for your budgets and how to use it alongside your in-house team as a powerful productivity hack. 

The Definition of The Subscription Workforce

The subscription workforce is defined by its fluid nature. Unlike traditional employment models where companies hire full-time employees, the subscription model allows businesses to procure talent when needed and work with them on a flexible, often monthly basis. This approach provides agility and scalability, enabling companies to respond to fluctuations in demand quickly.  When working with the Subscription Workforce, costs are usually fixed on a flat-rate pay-monthly basis, allowing you to know exactly how much the support you need will cost now and allowing you to plan ahead. 

The subscription workforce has gained popularity due to several factors. Firstly, technological advancements have made it easier for companies to connect with talent globally. With the rise of remote work and digital platforms, companies can now access a diverse talent pool regardless of where they are.

Additionally, the gig economy and the increasing desire for work-life balance have contributed to the rise of the subscription workforce. Many individuals now opt for flexible work arrangements that align with their lifestyle preferences, making themselves available as on-demand workers.

In particular, this article will review how The Subscription Workforce is flourishing within the creative industries. Specifically, graphic design. 

What does a Subscription-based designer do? 

Subscription-based designers are engaged on a monthly basis to help your team with different design projects. They will usually work with multiple clients but dedicate time each day to work on your brand’s projects. 

A Design Cloud subscription-based designer can help with a wide range of design tasks; anything from helping with day-to-day design projects like social media posts and blog images to full landing page designs or UX/UI design. The beauty of working with a subscription-based designer is paying for the exact level of support that you will actually use. You can select plans based on the type of work you need, from lower demand and simple day-to-day tasks to complex ongoing projects. Then you just pair up with the designer and work with them daily to get through your task list, just like you would if you’d hired in-house. 

Here are the steps involved with working with a subscription-based designer… 

  1. Write a detailed brief of what you want to have designed, and submit it in the way the service asks. Some services may be happy to receive briefs via email, and others will have custom-built platforms where you can input all the information easily.
  2. Your designer will review the brief and get to work. Sometimes your designer may need you to clarify certain parts of the brief. They’ll also let you know if the proposed deadline is realistic and attainable. 
  3. You’ll get the first draft back. If you’re happy with the design, then you just sign off on the project and the deliverables are sent over to you. If you’re not satisfied with anything, most services will allow you to ask for revisions from the designer. 
  4. You get the finished product! Once you’re happy with everything, you sign off the project and the designer can get started with the next task submitted to them.

The Design Cloud Process of working with a Subscription-Based Designer
The Design Cloud Process of working with a Subscription-Based Designer

Why Switch to a Subscription-based Creative Team? 

Lots of businesses that opt for using a subscription workforce tend to fall into one of the following scenarios:

  1. They don’t have the budget to hire in-house or work with a design agency
  2. They need design support, but they don’t have enough demand to warrant hiring in-house 
  3. They want to scale up their design output  fast whilst maintaining quality
  4. Their freelancer is not available as often as they need them or communication with them is slow 

So how does The Subscription Workforce address those issues? Below are a few of the most popular reasons businesses of all sizes are shaking up the traditional way of accessing graphic design. 


One of the most obvious benefits of working with a subscription-based designer is how much more affordable it is. Taking Design Cloud graphic design subscription plans as an example compared to hiring a designer in-house, you’ll be saving more than £20,000 a year on design.

By engaging designers on a monthly basis to get day-to-day design support, companies avoid the fixed costs associated with full-time employment, such as salaries, benefits, and office space. Want to know the exact figures on how much you’ll save? Read this article on the actual cost of hiring a designer or visit this page for the breakdown of how much Design Cloud saves you compared to hiring in-house. 

For ongoing design support, subscription-based designers are positioned as one of the most affordable options in the market where you’ll still be accessing high-quality design from experts. 

Rapid Access to Talent 

The subscription model enables companies to tap into a wide range of skills and expertise. With access to a global talent pool, businesses can find specialists for specific projects or tasks, ensuring that they have the right talent available at the right time.

You can now completely skip the time wasted on the actual recruitment process - from writing up a job description, finding candidates, interviewing and then completing the paperwork needed to actually hire.  It takes just a few minutes to sign up to Design Cloud and then you’ll be teamed up with a dedicated graphic designer in under one business day. The talent on our in-house team has been carefully selected to be able for us to offer you consistently high-quality design from designers with years of commercial experience. The designers you’d want to hire in-house are available at the click of a button - a huge benefit of working with a subscription workforce.


Not all businesses have a constant demand for the same level of graphic design. For example, those in the retail industry might find that demand for graphic design increases during certain seasons or holidays. In those cases, you might have designers who sometimes have maxed out capacity and at other times don’t have enough work to keep busy in the day. Most businesses experience peaks and troughs in demand, and that’s where the subscription workforce is used as a powerful tool to save budget and maximise efficiency. Instead of being locked into long-term employment contracts, businesses can scale their workforce up or down depending on project requirements or fluctuations in demand. This flexibility allows companies to optimise resource allocation and respond quickly to market dynamics.

The nature of a subscription is that you can pause and restart whenever you need that service. With Design Cloud all plans operate as standard on a 30-day rolling monthly contract, meaning that you can access a talented designer on the months you need and then preserve the budget by pausing the plan on the slow months. 

You simply can’t access this level of flexibility when hiring in-house, and if you find that your graphic design demand does wax and wain, then a subscription-based designer is likely going to work better for you. 


One unique aspect of the Subscription Workforce is that it works for both startups in a growth phase and large established enterprises. It is an entirely future-proofed solution. For example, if you’re an agency just starting out with a few clients and you want to be able to focus on both internal design projects and work for clients - you might choose to work with one designer. As your agency grows, you can just add designers to your subscription-based creative team as and when the demand requires it. 

An additional benefit of using a design subscription with a team hired in-house, like Design Cloud, is that as you add designers to your plan - those designers already have a relationship with each other and can collaborate easily straight away.  This can be especially useful in the setting of an Enterprise, where teams might find that they have hit capacity and need to find solutions that they can initiate rapidly to meet the extra demand.

What are the negatives of a subscription workforce?

While the subscription workforce offers numerous benefits, it also can present some challenges. Below we’ll look at some of these challenges in more detail…

Managing a Fluid Workforce

Effective project management becomes crucial when working with a subscription workforce. Clear communication, streamlined workflows, and project tracking tools are essential to keep all users aligned and ensure project success. As we spoke about earlier, not all subscription graphic design services work with designers in the UK, meaning that communication across time zones or language barriers can be difficult. Some services also might not team you with a dedicated graphic designer, so you’ll be working with a different designer regularly which could impact on how efficient the overall workflow is. It’s crucial to understand how the process will work for your team, and that means understanding how you’ll brief the designer and give feedback. We would always recommend booking a demo of the platform before signing up to make sure that the workflow is in line with what would be best for your team.  


Closely linked to the last point, communication is really important when working with a subscription-based workforce. When you choose this method of working, you forego having someone next to you in the office who you can just approach in person, so you’ll need a clear and considered approach to communicating with your designer. 

Make sure you speak to your service provider about what they offer to help make communication smooth between your team and designers.

For example at Design Cloud, our custom-built app is built to streamline all your communication into one place so any member of the team can click on a project and view the messages being sent about it. If you’re not much of a writer but need to submit a brief, we offer Loom submissions so you can record your screen and talk through exactly what you’re looking for. We even offer a dedicated Slack channel on certain plans so you and your whole team can communicate in real-time all in one place. 

Questions to ask before choosing a design workforce

Where is the designer located?

Not all subscription services offer support from UK-based designers, some work with overseas designers to access more affordable design support. If you choose to work with those services, it’s worth considering how often you can communicate with your designer. If they are in a different timezone, you may not be able to communicate during normal business hours which can result in project delays. 

Can my whole team access the service easily? 

The whole point of subscription-based services is efficiency so if the process of briefing your designer is clunky and long-winded, it kind of defeats the purpose. Before signing up for a subscription service, it’s a good idea to demo the platform if possible to get a feel for how easy it will be for your team to use it collaboratively. 

Look out for intuitive ways your team will be able to manage their projects and get an overview of what is being worked on currently. It’s important that every member of the team can see the tasks with their designer to plan their creative projects accordingly and avoid a design bottleneck. 

You can read about how different types of team structures use Design Cloud here. 


In conclusion, the subscription workforce model presents companies with a unique opportunity to adapt to their ever-changing needs rapidly and affordably. By embracing the flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness it offers, businesses can unlock a talented pool of individuals to meet their evolving needs. Ultimately, this shift in accessing creative services can offer businesses at any size the support they need more affordably and efficiently than ever before. 

Want to learn more? 

If you want to read more about how a subscription-based designer could work for your team, book a demo of Design Cloud now and speak to a service expert.

Leah Camps
Marketing Executive
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Need help with design work?

Learn how Design Cloud can help you save time and money on graphic design.
Read more