Many businesses decide to outsource their marketing efforts at some point. From substantial and rapid growth to simply needing some extra help while your attention is needed elsewhere, there are many reasons why you may require additional support.
And that’s when the agency vs freelancer debate comes into play.
There’s a lot of great marketing talent out there, in both the agency and freelancer spaces, and it can be difficult to determine which is going to be the best fit. Getting it wrong can lead to wasted time and wasted money, so it’s important to make an informed decision and weigh up your options before rushing to sign on the dotted line.
Agencies: the pros & cons
Comprehensive services: Marketing agencies typically offer a wide range of services, including branding, digital marketing, social media management, content creation, and more. They have a team of professionals who specialise in different areas, which means they can offer comprehensive solutions to businesses.
Experience: Agencies have a wealth of experience working with different types of businesses across industries. They have a proven track record of success, which can be reassuring for businesses looking for a reliable marketing partner.
Scalability: Marketing agencies have the resources to handle large-scale projects and campaigns. They can scale up or down based on the needs of the business, which is particularly beneficial for growing businesses.
Cost: Agencies are typically more expensive than freelancers. They have higher overhead costs, such as salaries, rent, and equipment, which are passed on to the client. This can be a deterrent for small businesses with limited budgets.
Communication: Agencies can sometimes be less responsive than freelancers, particularly if they have a large client roster. This can be frustrating for businesses that need immediate assistance or have urgent requests.
Lack of personalisation: Agencies often work with multiple clients at once, which can make it challenging to offer a personalised approach. Some businesses may feel like they are just another client in a long list, rather than receiving individual attention.
When should you hire an agency?
It may be time to hire an agency when:
- The project is complex, large and time-consuming (for example, a website build or re-platform)
- The project requires several areas of expertise, or more than one person to deliver it
- The deadline is tight
- You don’t have the time (or skills) to manage the project yourself or to manage a freelancer
- You don’t want to be very involved in the project
Freelancers: the pros & cons
Cost-effective: Freelancers typically charge lower rates than agencies since they have fewer overhead costs. This can be particularly appealing for small businesses with limited marketing budgets.
Flexibility: Freelancers can offer a lot of flexibility in terms of work hours and project timelines. They can often work around the schedules of the business, which is beneficial for businesses with strict deadlines.
Personalised attention: Freelancers can offer more personalised attention since they typically work with fewer clients at once. They can often provide a more customised approach to meet the specific needs of the business.
Limited resources: Freelancers have limited resources compared to agencies. They may not have access to the same tools, technologies, or team members, which can limit their ability to offer comprehensive solutions.
Limited experience: Freelancers may not have the same level of experience as agencies. While some may have a proven track record of success, others may be new to the industry.
Limited scalability: Freelancers may not have the resources to handle large-scale projects or campaigns. This can be a drawback for businesses that need to scale up quickly or handle a large workload.
When should you hire a freelancer?
While sometimes the right choice comes down to individual circumstances, in general, you should consider hiring a freelance when:
- The project is relatively small
- You have the time or capacity to manage a freelancer (or multiple freelancers)
- You don’t have the budget to hire an agency
- You want to be fairly involved or hands-on with the project
- The project can easily be carried out by a remote worker
Questions to ask yourself
Does my business operate within a niche sector or industry?
Marketing and ecommerce professionals are not one-size-fits-all. Many freelancers choose to operate within a particular industry or niche based on their past experience and clientele, which can help you decide if they’re the right person for the job.
How much am I willing to pay?
We’ve already touched on this, but budget is a huge factor when deciding between hiring a freelancer or an agency. Generally speaking, an agency is going to cost a lot more, so if you don’t have the funds then you could be wasting time seeking out agency proposals.
What do I want to achieve?
You need to consider your short and long-term goals. If you’ve got the budget then it comes down to what you’re looking to achieve. If you’re thinking about a long-term partnership that can accelerate business growth at a quicker pace, then you may want to begin working with an agency sooner rather than later. If you simply want an extra pair of hands to complete a few one-off projects, then this type of work is more suited to a freelancer, as you won’t be tied into lengthy contracts or costly retainers.
What do I want to get out of this?
An extension of your in-house team? A contact you can call upon as and when you need them? Make sure you know exactly what you’re looking to gain from this partnership before moving forward.
Still not sure?
Ultimately, it’s essential to do your research and carefully evaluate your options before making a decision. Look for agencies or freelancers with a proven track record of success, and be sure to ask for references and portfolios.
If you’d like someone to do the hard work for you, Flow can assist with finding the best fit based on your specific goals and needs. We work with fully-vetted freelancers and can match your business with the right person for the job, based on their experience, portfolio and reviews. On the other hand, our sister brand is an award-winning ecommerce agency, so if we think you’d be a good fit for them then we’ll get the ball rolling and a proposal in the works.
All you have to do is fill out a form and we’ll do the rest.