Freelancer or Agency- How to Decide Who Adds More Value to Your Marketing Program

Companies, today, are focusing on doing what they do best, developing their core strengths. While it is great for establishing clarity and channeling the energy of the organization, there are certain things that just cannot be avoided such as website design, content creation, or marketing campaigns.

Marketing is one such important step in the business cycle of a company, and for a great marketing strategy, you need professionalism in your approach.

Companies, often look to hire marketing professionals, but the dilemma they have to face is whether to go for an agency vs. freelancer.

Freelancers and Agencies

Freelancers are independent workers, that are not affiliated with any organization and work on a project to project basis.

Freelancers are usually experts in a particular field, Eg. Writing, Social media, Graphic design, etc. They charge by the hour or day or per project depending on the kind and amount of work to be done.

On the other hand, agencies provide services as an organization to other companies, organizations or other corporate entities.

Agencies, usually comprise of a number of freelancers who are experts in different fields. They can provide more holistic or complete solutions given that they have more people on board, and thus have a broader range of skills.

Freelancer or Agency: Who is Better for Marketing Campaigns

Here are a few factors that might help you evaluate and decide what works for your marketing strategy

 

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Cost

If you are thinking why hire a freelancer, cost can be a factor as freelancers price themselves for their services and are in most cases relatively cost-effective. They don’t have any significant overheads to factor in. But for more complicated projects you might have to hire multiple freelancers for different aspects of the job, which can be costlier in the long run.

Agencies, on the other hand, can be costly, as they have overheads such as office space, project coordinators, etc. But when you hire an agency you state your requirements and the onus falls on them to find people with the required skill set for the project, that leaves you with much less to worry about.

Expertise 

Freelancers are usually very good at what they do. Most of them specialize in one or two fields, e.g., Writing, and Social media marketing. So, they might suit your requirements in specific smaller projects, but the lack of skills in other critical aspects of your marketing strategy can sometimes be a big limitation.

 

 

The companies hiring freelancers would be really lucky to find a superhuman freelancer with multiple abilities in the real world. Agencies meanwhile put together the team according to the project’s requirements. Individuals with expertise in various fields work together under the supervision of a project manager, to make sure that all aspects are coming along in sync.

For eg:- If you hire an agency to get a website up , they would have designers, developers and content writers in a team to provide a complete solution. Whereas if you are going for the freelance professional services, you would have to look for each of them separately. 

Availability and Support

While most freelancers are dependent on work from multiple sources, it is possible that the one you want might be unavailable when you need them.

Also, most freelancers have tight schedules or even have different full-time jobs. That’s why getting in touch can be difficult sometimes. Since they keep moving on to other projects, support after completion is also limited.

The difference with agencies is that you don’t have to ask them for availability. Most agencies will provide you with a project coordinator or manager to be your POC and help you track progress. Regular updates are provided, and suggestions/feedbacks are sought and then implemented.

Reliability and Professionalism

Most freelancers are passionate about what they do and take it seriously. They will push themselves to make sure they deliver the best they can, even working late nights or on weekends to accommodate your requirements.

But sometimes due to certain circumstances, they might have to abandon a project , or they might be unresponsive to emails, procrastinate and miss deadlines. It can, in turn, affect your marketing campaign adversely.

Agencies have teams in place, that can continue to work on the project even in the event of minor hiccups such as a member lagging behind with their deliverables or falling sick. They can work together to stay on track, and the agency might also allocate additional resources too if it is required to meet the deadlines and are generally more reliable.

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Benefits of Hiring Agency over Freelancer

1. Choose Agency for Continual Growth

When your marketing and the quality of the product starts paying off, and you start growing, your requirements can change. You target new demographics or markets, and your outreach increases significantly.
While freelancers can provide great ideas, it is very difficult for them to scale.

But with an agency, they can keep pace with your growth, by allocating more resources accordingly. They can adapt to your requirements, and make strategies as per the type and scale of audience.

2. Hiring an Agency is The Long-Term Solution

As mentioned earlier working with agencies makes it easier to establish a long-term relationship, and the dynamics improve as they keep working with you and understand your requirements better.

Unlike with freelancers, where you would have to start everything from scratch with everyone you bring on board. With agencies, you just have to give a brief to the manager, and they communicate it to their team. Work goes along in a more structured way.

Agencies can also be held more accountable since there is a manager or coordinator, you don’t have to manage each freelancer and also not have to worry about anyone dropping your project since the agency can look for the replacement.

Though a little expensive, agencies do tend to prove their worth in the long run as they take away a lot of your work like looking  for freelancers, keeping track of their hours, providing updates, etc.

For example:– for a marketing campaign, the support also extends to evaluation, analysis and then tweak it to make it better.

Also, agencies provide much more support than is possible for freelancers. You’ll be able to contact someone or the other at an agency , but if you’re not able to get through to the freelancer, you’re very much stuck where you are.

Disadvantages of the Freelance Projects

Freelance projects are more transactional in nature, they deliver on what they are asked and move on. While you may re-hire freelancers who have done well, the fact that freelancers work on multiple projects with different clients makes it difficult to establish long-term associations. Here a few other reasons why Freelance projects might not always be the right alternative.

Specialisation in selective fields means that for large-scale, complicated projects one freelancer might not be able to fulfill your requirements.

For e.g. , Someone specializing in graphic design, might not be able to build a website. So multiple freelancers might have to be brought on board, managing them can be a challenge. Freelancers prioritize their work as it suits them. Sometimes, you may want a crucial project to be delivered on a tight deadline, but they’d actually work on it with the same level of urgency is something, that you cannot know for sure.

Since freelancers work independently, there is no backup if they are not able to continue due to any personal or professional reasons. Looking for a replacement is difficult , and more often than not the work need to start from scratch. Although this is not very common, but when it happens, it sets back the project both in terms of cost and time.

Freelance projects are more transactional in nature, they deliver on what they are asked and move on. While you may re-hire freelancers who have done well, the fact that freelancers work on multiple projects with different clients makes it difficult to establish long-term associations. Here a few other reasons why Freelance projects might not always be the right alternative.

Specialisation in selective fields means that for large-scale, complicated projects one freelancer might not be able to fulfill your requirements. For e.g.  , Someone specializing in graphic design, might not be able to build a website. So multiple freelancers might have to be brought on board, managing them can be a challenge.

Freelancers  prioritize their work as it suits them. Sometimes, you may want a crucial project to be delivered on a tight deadline, but they’d actually work on it with the same level of urgency is something, that you cannot know for sure.

Since freelancers work independently, there is no backup if they are not able to continue due to any personal or professional reasons. Looking for a replacement is difficult , and more often than not the work need to start from scratch. Although this is not very common, but when it happens, it sets back the project both in terms of cost and time.

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Resources and Expertise Needed to Complete the Project

People:

Needless to say that without the right people no project is getting anywhere. Finding the right skill set and personality is crucial for smooth progress. Agencies make sure that they have the employees with right skill set available, whenever the requirement arises. This particular difference between freelancer and employee can make the entire difference in terms of the execution of your marketing program. Make sure to interact and get to know them, so that you know to approach any situations that may arise later.

Material Resources:

Even the best of people will be unable to justify their potential if the right tools aren’t available. A few examples of things generally considered essential

  • Software Licenses
  • Infrastructure-Eg. Good Internet Connection , PC’s with required specs, etc.
  • Equipments- like Cameras, Sound Systems, etc.

Of course, this might vary depending on the requirement of your marketing campaign, but make sure whoever you hire has access to what you need so that you don’t end up with sub-par work.

Agencies usually have better resources at their disposal than Freelancers , given their scale.

 

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Time & Money management:

All projects start off with a deadline and a budget, whether or not they remain unchanged throughout the duration of the project is a different matter.  Therefore, managing time and money is a critical skill needed for completing any project.

Be realistic while setting the budget and deadline, keep in mind what you want to accomplish and plan accordingly keep a little room for error.

Delays and rising costs if unchecked can greatly reduce the utility of a project, so make sure that the people you work with do not take these things for granted.

Here is a summary of pros & cons whether to go for an Agency or hire a Freelancer, to clear the entire confusion:

Agency

Pros Cons
Professionalism Expensive
Reliability to get the job done Team dynamics
Suitable for the long run Limited creative Liberties
Better support system
Broader availability of skill sets

 

Freelancer

Pros Cons
Cost Effective Can be Overburdened
Passionate about Quality Work Availability can be an issue
More focussed in Chosen Field Difficult to replace
Expertise limited to one or two fields
Limited scalability

Before you partner with an agency, it is important to know what you are stepping into. This checklist will help you evaluate the agency form every angle and give clarity in your marketing path.

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Conclusion

It really depends on the requirement, goals, scope, and the budget of your marketing campaign, whether to select freelancer or agency for the task. Make sure to evaluate your marketing program in terms of the factors stated above, which would help you decide if you need the services from an agency or a freelancer, and whether you need it on freelance vs. contract basis.

 

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