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digital agency vs. freelancer

Digital Agency vs. Freelancer: Which One Should You Hire?

After being a solopreneur for a few years, you have grown your business and team. Your marketing team, for one, has its hands full with your digital marketing campaigns. You’re now torn between hiring a digital agency vs. freelancer to help you with your marketing efforts.

This blog post will walk you through the pros and cons of a digital agency and freelancer. It will also help you answer the question: Should you hire a digital agency or freelancer?

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Pros and cons of a digital agency and freelancer

Hiring a digital marketing agency or freelance marketer each has its own advantages and disadvantages. For one, while freelancer fees are more affordable than digital agencies, you get the collective expertise of different digital marketers with an agency.

On the other hand, digital agencies may have different experts on their team, but you don’t get to choose the people you’ll work with. When you’re hiring a freelancer, you get to pick the professional who understands your goals and the person you’ll work with based on their experience and level of expertise.

Digital agencies and freelancers differ in many ways in terms of the following:

  1. Skills and expertise
  2. Flexibility and structure
  3. Communication
  4. Network and resources

You can check out the table below for a summary of the pros and cons of a digital agency and freelancer:

Digital Marketing Agency vs. Freelance Marketer

Freelancer Digital Agency
Skills and Expertise Pro: You hire a well-rounded individual for a specific skill or expertise you need.
Con: If you need various skills for a project, you may need to hire more than one freelancer.
Pro: You hire a team of experienced marketers with various skills.
Con: The digital agency assigns the team members to your account or business, so you don’t get to choose which expert you want to work with.
Flexibility and Structure Pro: Freelancers have some flexibility and can serve you beyond the usual office hours.
Pro: If you need to tweak some project requirements, freelancers offer the flexibility to accommodate some changes.
Con: Freelancers usually work on their own, so they may not have established processes and be as organized as agencies.
Con: Freelancers may not have a fixed schedule that they can allocate for meeting regularly, as they might need the time to work on your deliverables or meet with other clients.
Pro: Digital agencies have established processes to work on your deliverables efficiently.
Pro: You can streamline processes with your digital agency, such as regular meetings.
Con: Digital agencies typically operate during business hours, offering less flexibility.
Con: Some digital agencies may only allow you to change your project requirements for a fee and with a revised deadline.
Communication Pro: Freelancers communicate directly with the team member leading the project. When clients need to give feedback to the freelance marketer, the message is delivered straight to the person who’ll make the revisions.
Con: Freelancers typically use more informal communication tools like messaging apps, so some updates may fall through the cracks.
Pro: Communicating with a digital agency is typically streamlined with the use of project management tools and having a dedicated project manager.
Con: Businesses can’t directly communicate with or give feedback to the digital marketers involved in their projects — you rely on the project manager to pass on the message.
Network and resources Pros: Freelancers usually have a vast network, as they have previously worked for different companies.
Cons: Since freelancers work independently, they likely have fewer resources than a digital agency.
Pros: Digital agencies invest in training events and seminars, so their marketers are always updated on the latest trends. They also invest in equipment, software, and resources to work more efficiently.
Cons: Because they have more resources, digital agencies typically charge higher costs than freelancers.

Let’s go through each one:

Digital agency vs. freelancer: Skills and expertise

First on the list of pros and cons of a digital agency and freelancer, let’s look at how they differ in terms of skills and expertise:

Freelancer

Pros: Freelancers are typically experienced professionals who have worked in different companies. As such, they have a diverse perspective on marketing and doing business. They usually have specific skillsets and expertise in certain industries. For example, a former press release writer in the tourism and hospitality field can offer freelance content writing for hotels and resorts later on in their career.

When hiring a freelancer, look for someone who suits your needs. You can also consider a freelancer who has experience working in your industry.

Cons: Working with a freelancer means you’re limited to the insights and expertise of a one-person team.

In addition, while freelancers are well-rounded professionals, they usually have specific skills in certain marketing strategies.  A graphic designer can create your ads, but they may not have copywriting expertise.

That said, finding freelancers with a broad range of skills is rare. You may need to hire multiple freelancers for a project requiring various skills.

Digital agency

Pros: Hiring a digital agency is like having an extended marketing team, because you’ll work with a group of marketers who are experts in their fields.

For example, let’s say you’re launching a new product for your medical equipment business and need search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) expertise. You can turn to a digital agency that offers both services. You can even turn to full-service digital marketing agencies like WebFX so that you can work with the same team familiar with your business and industry if you need other services.

Cons: Digital agencies are experts in their fields, but not all are experienced in your niche. Even if a digital agency has had some experience in your industry, not every team member may have experience working on marketing campaigns in your industry.

That’s not to say that you must stay away from a digital agency with no prior experience in your niche, though. In fact, hiring an agency who hasn’t worked in your industry can bring in fresh ideas. Make sure you find an agency that’s willing to learn a new industry and collaborate with you to bring results.

When hiring a digital agency, discuss your goals, needs, and expectations with them. Digital agencies typically research their clients, but it’s still a good idea to brief them about your business, industry, and competitors.

Digital agency vs. freelancer: Flexibility and structure

Do you need the flexibility of a freelancer, or do you need the structured processes of an agency to handle numerous, simultaneous projects? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of a digital agency and freelancer in terms of flexibility and structure:

Freelancer

Pros: Freelancers typically have a flexible schedule, which is one of the main draws of hiring them. If you encounter a social media crisis or issue later in the day, you can count on your freelancer to help you address it and brew a crisis communication plan.

Cons: Freelancers are a one-person team, and they may work with multiple clients. Soo even though they offer you a flexible schedule, they might be juggling different clients’ needs and requirements.

Digital agency

Pros: Digital agencies have established processes and structures in place. That’s not to say they rigidly implement them without discussing workflows with their clients.

Like freelancers, digital agencies also offer flexibility, but backed by certain processes to efficiently deliver your requirements. Unlike freelancers, digital agencies are a team of experts, so they can provide support when and where necessary.

They are also more likely to offer flexible payment arrangements for your one-off projects.

Cons: An agency may provide you with some flexibility, but it’s not as agile as a freelancer. For one, some digital agencies may only allow you to change your project requirements for a fee and with a revised deadline.

In addition, when you work with an agency, you work with a team of digital marketers. Finding a common schedule to kick-off a new project with all of them can be trickier compared to working with a single freelancer.

On top of that, digital agencies typically only operate during business hours. If something happens with your marketing overnight or over the weekend, you may not get a response to fix it until the next time the team is in the office.

Digital agency vs. freelancer: Communication

Now let’s look at how freelancers and digital agencies differ in terms of communication with clients:

Freelancer

Pros: Freelancers are usually excellent communicators because they aim to provide outstanding service and deliverables to retain their customers and build relationships. They will explain technical concepts to you to ensure you understand and that you’re both on the same page about your strategies.

Freelancers may communicate more informally through chat or messaging apps.

Cons: Some freelancers work from different parts of the world and may have a different time zone from you.

In addition, because of the less formal method of communication through chat apps, some updates may fall through the cracks. Freelancers do not have structured processes in place and may not have as many tools as digital agencies, so new updates and feedback on a campaign are usually delivered through messaging apps. When updates and messages pile up, it’s easy for small details to get ignored in lengthy conversations.

Digital agency

Pros: Communicating with digital agencies is typically more streamlined and made more straightforward for their clients. Agencies assign project managers to their clients, and these project managers are the customers’ single point of contact for any concern.

If a customer needs to brief an agency about a new project, they speak with the project manager. When it’s time for the agency to submit a deliverable for their client’s review, the project manager does the job for the team. As a result, businesses need to liaise with only one key person.

Project managers may involve other team members when necessary or when more significant projects require everyone on the team to get involved from the start and see the project through.

Cons: While having a project manager streamlines the process, some businesses prefer to work directly with the digital marketer involved in their projects, say, for example, the graphic designer creating their digital ads.

Digital agency vs. freelancer: Network and resources

Here’s a look at how different freelancers and digital agencies are in terms of their network and resources:

Freelancer

Pros: Freelancers have a vast network, as they have previously worked for different companies and had multiple clients. If they have experience working for a digital agency, they likely know other marketing professionals they can refer to their business contacts.

Cons: Freelancers invest in their equipment and software, but they likely have fewer resources and tools than a digital agency because they work independently.  As a result, they may perform certain tasks slower and less efficiently compared to agencies, which have the tools to automate certain tasks.

For example, data mining for a performance report can be a piece of cake for agencies equipped with the talent and tools. Meanwhile, freelancers may do some manual work downloading data from various sources to submit a report.

Digital agency

Pros: Digital agencies have time to network in training events and seminars, so their marketers are always updated on the latest trends. Agencies have dozens of well-connected employees, which makes for a vast network of connections. They also invest in equipment, software, and resources to work more efficiently.

Cons: Because they have more resources, digital agencies typically charge higher costs than freelancers.

Digital agency vs. freelancer: Should you hire a digital agency or freelancer?

Here are some tips to help you choose between a digital marketing agency vs. freelance marketer:

1. Identify your needs

Do you need an extra hand for a one-off project that only requires a specific skill set, say copywriting? You may opt to work with a freelancer instead of having a year-long contract with a marketing agency.

If you want to carry out a long-term campaign and require the help of different experts — from web developers to SEO experts — you’re better off with a full-service digital agency. By hiring a digital marketing agency, your workflow is streamlined and you have a team of experts working with you.

2. Find out if a freelancer or agency has experience in your niche industry

Does the freelancer or agency have experience working in your niche or related industry?

For example, let’s say you’re in the business of heavy equipment rentals. One of your potential freelancers or agencies has previously provided services for heavy equipment. They are a good candidate because chances are they’re familiar with your industry. They are probably also familiar with your business!

3. Read reviews from past or current customers

Gather insights about your potential digital agencies and freelancers by reading reviews from their past or current customers. Find out what it’s like to work with a potential contractor. Do they provide excellent support? Do they respond courteously?

4. Ask for their performance scores

During your exploratory call, ask agencies and freelancers about the results they’ve delivered to their customers. Did their digital marketing campaigns bring in sales and revenue? If they were tasked to carry out top-of-the-funnel campaigns, did they bring results that increased brand awareness and consideration?

WebFX helps companies like yours reach their business goals

“Our marketing department has a lot of key performance indicators that WebFX has always helped us achieve… WebFX has always worked hard to make sure that we’re getting what we need out of the partnership, not just what may seem like the best result.”

HydroWorx

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Work with an award-winning digital agency with experience in 200+ industries

If you’re looking for a full-service digital marketing agency that can help your business, look no further than WebFX.

We’re a team of 500 digital marketing experts committed to delivering results for your business’s bottom line. Don’t take our word for it, though. We have over 1,100+ testimonials from our satisfied customers that attest to the results we drive.

Contact us online or call us at 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist about our digital marketing services that can help you propel your business to grow!

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