Freelancer or Agency, what are the main differences
Ever feel like a business owner or manager, that you're juggling 10 things at once while turning a few plates in your head? There are so many things to take care of, it sometimes feels like there aren't enough hours in the day. One of the most important parts of building a successful business is ensuring you have an incredibly strong marketing approach. Who you choose to build your marketing strategy will make all the difference. You can opt for a digital agency or you can decide to work with a freelance marketer, but what are the differences between these two?
Find out here!
the right time to decide
At the beginning of the start-up phase, it might have made sense for you to take care of digital marketing. After all, you know your own brand voice and tone. But now the business is booming and you have a thousand other things to do. Isn't it time you branched out and hired some complementary marketing services?
Sooner or later the question arises: "should I be looking for a freelancer or a digital agency?" As a small or medium-sized business, this is a common dilemma that doesn't always get the attention it deserves.
Why is the choice between a freelancer versus a digital agency so difficult and what are the differences?
Your options are endless (literally endless). Just type freelancer or digital marketing agency into Google and the search phrase comes back with endless results.
And there's your business niche — a marketer doesn't necessarily serve all audiences. Some marketing freelancers will have all the know-how of the fashion world, but they have no idea about the healthcare industry or the tech world.
Freelancer vs. digital agency - see the basic differences
Let's step back for a minute – for those who have just started thinking about this, let's get some fundamentals out of the way. A freelancer is an independent marketing consultant who will likely have some experience working for a large company in the past, but will provide their services on their own. Freelancer is on the rise. By 2027, more than 50% of the workforce is expected to be independent freelancers.
A digital agency is a larger team of marketing professionals which are managed by a classic hierarchical system where marketers will generally not be able to choose their project and will have a set of expected goals placed on top of them.
There is no doubt that not all companies will have exactly the same needs, which is why this decision is not a clear cut.
Pros and cons of the differences between freelancer vs. digital agency
Here are some pros and cons for freelancers versus a digital agency.
Pro: Freelancers are usually pretty thorough professionals. Most freelancers don't start their careers on their own and have generally worked for a few companies before deciding to become a freelancer. This gives them a broader perspective when it comes to marketing and the way they look at the business world. When choosing your freelancer, you can find someone who excels at providing your exact needs, be it website creation, SEO or social. You can also choose someone with experience in your specific niche.
Cons: It will be difficult to find a freelancer with a wide range of focused skills, which means you may have to go looking for more than one freelancer. Explaining your vision again and working with more than one freelancer can be time-consuming.
Pro: With a digital agency, you'll have a pool of experienced marketers who will likely have a huge range of skills. You won't have to repeat your vision and they'll all be on the same page when it comes to what works best for your business.
Con: You won't choose who you work with. The digital agency allocates a marketer to your business and will usually be chosen at random, based on the size of your business. If you are a bigger business, you can have an experienced marketer. However, a smaller business will likely be paired with a marketing newbie
Pro: Freelancers are self-employed and their reputation is paramount to their business. They will likely provide excellent service and ensure that your needs are met. It is in the freelancer's best interest to press for results. After all, they want you to recommend them to other business owners. They also tend to be good communicators, as they are used to explaining marketing jargon to small businesses that often don't have the same track record as larger companies.
Cons: As freelancers sometimes work remotely, they sometimes disappear without a trace. They also won't insist on contracts that can sometimes bring up legal issues if they don't complete the work.
Pro: A digital agency will have some structure in place regarding proper communication and service. They will also have routine meetings to check on business progress.
Cons: A digital agency will naturally care about its reputation, but the individual digital agency marketers will not be held accountable in the same way, so it's not their priority to provide exceptional service.
Pro: Freelancers generally have fewer projects than a larger digital agency and can make their projects a priority. Sometimes, if the project is big enough, freelancers will work on one project at a time. This is almost like having an in-house marketer.
Cons: A freelancer may take longer to finish a project due to lack of resources.
Pro: A digital agency will have more resources to complete your project quickly. Also, know where you are in time with a digital agency, and you can base your business around it.
Con: A digital agency will be inundated with projects and in addition, they will be pressured to get the results of big clients with the money. Smaller clients are not that valuable to the digital agency. So often they may not give your business the attention it deserves. When it comes to a digital agency, your marketing will only be available during traditional business hours, and even then, you may be competing with other projects. If you have a business that maintains non-traditional hours, then a digital agency may not have the flexibility you need. Your digital agency marketer may also be stuck in team meetings, or out to lunch with potential clients, becoming generally unavailable.
Pro: Freelancers are flexible and don't just work normal business hours. They also embrace an unstructured workday, which is why they became freelancers to begin with! This will come in handy when you're greeted with a potential crisis in the early hours or over the weekend. A social media professional, for example, can respond to their customers immediately or when they need to.
Cons: They may charge extra for working nights or weekends.
Pro: A freelancer will not require a full, in-house salary and may offer an hourly rate per project. As freelancers are working on their own time, they tend to be much more productive than an office worker. They also don't have the interruption of colleagues or useless office politics.
Cons: The payment schedule can be a little tighter than when working with an agency.
Pro: You will get high quality work, and the digital agency is able to offer you a comfortable payment schedule.
Con: A digital agency has huge overheads. They usually work in rented spaces, or if they work in a home office regime they may have a larger team with high marketing investment, they hire graphic designers, creatives and other specialists, all of which come at a relatively higher price than freelancers.
Differences between freelancer and agency: some useful things to think about before making your decision:
Experience in my niche
Be sure to check if the freelancer or digital agency has experience in the industry or niche. Check the brands they've worked with as well as their industry knowledge. Also, if they don't know anything about the industry, chances are they will have a hard time working on a business plan.
Proven high performance performance
Your freelancer or digital agency can show you performance data? Not everyone can provide this, but some agencies may give marketers specific scores that track their past campaign performance.
It's important that you read real reviews from real clients, which can provide insight into working with the digital agency or freelancer. Were they always quick to respond to your email? Did they react well during a crisis?
At the end of the day, when deciding whether to use an agency, freelance or digital, then you can, in both incidences, end up with a high quality product. However, the question is, how did your journey go? Was it smooth, or bumpy with a few stumbles?
As with many business decisions, there is no universal answer to the question of hiring a freelancer versus hiring an agency. That is, it completely depends on what you are looking to get out of the deal. Some may hire one freelancer to put their full focus on one problem area, while the next has a whole team of people working in a variety of different areas.
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