This question — Freelancer vs. Agency? — has come up a lot when I talk to prospective clients. I understand it may not be clear to the buyer what the difference is between the two. So I’m breaking down my thoughts in this latest blog post to help you better understand what your business may need when it comes to support for your marketing services.
Before we dive in, the most important question you’ll need to answer is: What am I in need of? You should be clear on your goals, services needed, and what success looks like to you. Remember: Whether you are working with an agency or with an independent freelancer, no one person or organization does everything. I, personally, don’t believe in the term “all-in-one” or “full service agency”. No one can do everything well. So it is your responsibility to understand who you want to work with, what it is they do well, and if that is in line with your needs.
For example, at TB Media Group, we are great at telling authentic stories and creating organic content for your owned media channels. What does this mean? We prepare your communications and storytelling strategies, primarily for service-based businesses and personal brands. We share these stories with your audiences through organic content on your owned media channels. That content could be a blog, website copywriting, high-quality video content, or social media graphics and animations, to name a few. While we focus on helping you grow organically and over time, someone else may focus on a paid media strategy. Maybe you want to be in TV and radio commercials, or in magazine ads or billboards. There are agencies that specialize in paid media, SEO, web design, or media relations. It’s helpful for you to understand the difference between them all.
Let’s dive into the pros of hiring a freelancer vs. a marketing agency.
Here are the 3 pros of hiring a freelancer:
- Cost Effective – Well cost is a big reason why most people will work with a freelancer instead of hiring a marketing agency. A freelancer doesn’t carry the overhead costs of an agency, like office space, more extensive softwares and processes, and personnel costs. Because of this their fees will be significantly more cost effective than an agency. This doesn’t mean a marketing freelancer will be cheap, and costs and still vary greatly depending on the type of service, their experience, and time spent on your project.
- Flexibility – Freelancers often don’t have their own set of systems and processes in place. Don’t get me wrong. They will likely have some, but it won’t be to the degree of what you will experience with an agency. What do I mean? They may or may not have a client portal through which you access your projects, provide feedback, and interact with them. Likely, an agency will have a process by which you will have to follow. So if you are looking for more flexibility with how someone will work with you, you may find more of that with an independent marketer. This level of flexibility will also range depending on the size of the agency you are working with and the deliverables they are providing. I find freelancers are ideal for clients who want an individual to be a part of their team, whether physically in the office or remotely, for a fair amount of hours weekly or monthly.
- Hyper-Focused Expertise – It will be challenging to get a variety of services from one freelancer, alone. For example, you may find a branding and design expert who can create social media templates and a beautiful logo and brand guide for your health and wellness business, but that same freelancer may not be able to write copy or plan and schedule social media posts. This is where an agency can help with similar and related services, because they employ the team who specialises in each service area. A freelancer is fantastic if you are specific on what you need from them, and it is in line with their skill set. But sometimes, once you start to ask them to go too far outside of their skill set, you may see a dip in the quality of work. This is certainly understandable, because no one is strong in every single area.
On the other hand, here are the 3 pros of hiring a marketing agency:
- Integrated Planning & Strategy – I’d say one of the best things you get from working with an agency instead of an independent freelancer is the guidance, planning, and strategy that take into account the big picture. If you’re not getting that, you may want to reconsider your agency. Agencies work with those from a variety of different backgrounds and skill sets, and there is typically no one-size-fits all for their clients. At least that’s how we work at TB Media Group. You have a goal? Your agency should determine the best overall course of action. A freelancer will do this too, but likely only pertaining to their skill set. They may not be able to advise you on other areas and tactics that don’t involve them directly. At an agency, we have various tools and resources that we can pull in to meet your goals. So you are sitting back, approving the plan and waiting for us to execute new initiatives on your behalf.
- Project Management – This is a biggie, and this is probably the last thing any business owner or marketing director should deal with. BUT — if you are working with a freelancer or multiple freelancers, you are coordinating and managing them. If you have the time and limited budget, then this is a fair approach. If you don’t have time, handing over the project management to make sure everything is integrated and your marketing tactics are working together, is invaluable. In short, you don’t see or touch any of the back and forth. Quality control. Communication. Edits. Working out the kinks. All of this is happening in the background and you don’t have to get involved in it. Perfect for the busy entrepreneur, right?
- Higher Quality – Now, let me explain. Working with a freelancer can bring you very high quality work and results, but likely in a very narrow area of expertise. At TB Media Group, we know what we do well and we stay in our lane creating story-driven organic content, but we also understand that a graphic designer isn’t always a great writer, who also isn’t always a great account manager. An agency can leverage everyone’s skills and deliver a much higher quality product from implementation, creation to execution, saving you time and money in the long run.
In summary, if you are just starting with a limited budget, or have a very narrow need like designing a brochure, a freelancer is a great option for you. If you understand the value of having multiple industry experts on your side, and a team to back you up, an agency may be worth the investment.
I hope this helps demystify the difference between the two. If you have any questions about how we work at TB Media Group, reach out to us here to say hello or fill out our form to work with us, and we’ll schedule a discovery call.