Digital Marketing Agencies vs. Freelancers: Who Should I Hire?

Digital marketing agency or a freelancer

If you’re looking to up your marketing game, you’ve probably been weighing up the age-old question: should I hire a digital marketing agency or a freelancer? The truth is, it depends! The answer isn’t as cut and dry as it seems, but fortunately for you, Supersede is here to help.

We’re going to walk you through the factors that you need to consider before making your decision and show you how we can make it that much easier for you. Let’s go!


Factors to consider

Focus areas

Red and white target circle with an arrow on bullseye

Freelancer

Though it will depend on the freelancer, most tend to hone their skills in one key area, such as content creation, web design or social media. If they’ve been active for at least a couple of years, this means that they’ll have built up enough valuable knowledge and expertise to tackle what it is that you’re after.

Unfortunately, this does mean that you’ll have to hire multiple freelancers if you’re looking to improve your entire marketing strategy. This can end up costing you an arm and a leg. Additionally, it can lead to difficulties with putting all of the work together. Unless you’re getting these freelancers to collaborate with one another, you’re going to have to put in the extra work to ensure that everything is consistent in terms of branding and tone.

Digital marketing agency

With an agency, you get everything under one roof. Looking for web copy, email marketing and social media posts? No problem. Interested in updating your branding and website design? No worries. Agencies generally have a range of employees who specialise in every facet of digital marketing.

Another advantage to digital marketing agencies is that their employees are used to collaborating with one another. If you’re looking for a new website complete with copy, the writing team would work hand-in-hand with the web development team to ensure that you receive a finished product that matches your requirements.

Knowledge

Freelancer

The beauty of freelancers is that they’ll have worked for a wide assortment of clients and businesses over the years. This means that they’ll have tried their hand with a range of niches—building up an understanding of key industry knowledge. If you manage to find a freelancer who specialises in working with companies similar to your own, it means that they’ll be able to dig right into the work without needing to do as much background research.

Bear in mind, however, that it can be a time-consuming process to locate a freelancer with the right background.

Digital marketing agency

An agency is also just as likely to have built up expertise and a good working knowledge in a range of industries. Given that there are numerous employees in an agency, they’ll collectively have experience in a wider range of fields.

That being said, you have no way of knowing who is going to be assigned to your project(s). Though one person in the agency might have experience with, say, writing blog posts in the finance industry, they might be busy with another client—which means that your work will be assigned to someone who might not be as experienced in the subject matter.

Communication

Communication bubbles

Freelancer

When you pick a freelancer to work on your project(s), they will be your one and only point of contact. You’ll be speaking with them directly—over email, the phone or in person—to discuss project specifications, deadlines, revisions and so on. If you ever need to elaborate on something, or ask for last minute changes, you’ll be able to contact them directly.

If your freelancer is working with a few clients at once, however, they might take a while to get back to you, which leaves you sitting on your hands waiting. And if they go AWOL, you have no way of contacting them outside of their usual channels.

Digital marketing agency

With agencies, you’ll generally be given a single point of contact who will act as a buffer between you and the people working on your behalf. If any issues arise, they’ll be on hand to discuss the matter with you, before forwarding it onto the relevant parties involved. The difference between this representative and a freelancer is that if they’re MIA for a while, you’ll still be able to get in touch with the agency through other employees or channels.

The downside is that you can often feel removed from the situation, as it’s unlikely you’ll be talking to the people who are actually doing the work. In addition to this, depending on the agency, there can be issues with communication. The point of contact might forget to pass something on, or they might pass it onto the wrong person if several parties are involved.

Workload

Fitting work around schedule

Freelancer

Unless you’re looking at newcomers, most freelancers will know what their capabilities are in terms of workload. They’ll be able to tell you what their capacity is and how long it will take them to get through your project(s). With some freelancers focusing solely on one client at a time, there’s a good chance that they’ll be able to dedicate all of their time and energy towards completing your project(s).

That being said, they are only a single person, so there’s only so much they can do in any given time. If you want them to complete additional work, they might not be able to fit it in if they’re balancing multiple projects. And, if they fall ill, work on your project will stop until they have recovered.

Digital marketing agency

If you’re working with an agency, you can rest assured that they’ll probably be able to accommodate a heavy workload in addition to any ad hoc tasks you want to throw into the mix. This is because they’re able to distribute the work evenly across their team. In the event that the individuals working on your project(s) fall ill, they’ll have someone on hand to pick it up.

Of course, if you’ve chosen a relatively small agency, they might only have a single employee who specialises in the area you’re looking for work in, e.g., a single graphic designer, which means that you might end up waiting around if they’re unavailable. Additionally, if an agency has several clients, they might not be able to fit in any extra work.

Flexibility

Booked up schedule

Freelancer

Though it varies from freelancer to freelancer, most have eschewed the traditional nine-to-five working day in favour of a flexible schedule that enables them to work according to their preferences. This can mean that they’re available earlier or later in the day than standard agencies might be.

If they don’t have additional clients to deal with, they might even be able to fit more projects into their schedule. This is very handy if you come to the conclusion that they do good work and that you want more of it.

You do have to be careful to not cross any boundaries with this, however. If a freelancer has set hours in their email footer, or has told you to only contact them during certain times, you can’t expect them to take on emergency work or give you a call outside of their set hours. Expectations like these can lead to burnout and will undoubtedly ruin your professional relationship.

Digital marketing agency

Though it depends on the size of the agency, they’ll typically have enough employees on hand to be able to complete your work, meet your scheduling requirements and, potentially, work around any last minute changes to your project(s). With more manpower at their disposal, agencies are able to move things around to suit you.

If you’ve picked an agency who handles a wide range of clients, however, they might not be as flexible in terms of short deadlines and ad hoc work. And, unlike freelancers, they tend to stick to rigid, traditional working hours. This means that if you encounter a problem outside of their business hours, they won’t be able to respond until the next working day.

Quality control

Freelancer

When it comes to quality control, a freelancer is entirely responsible for finding and fixing errors before sending anything over to you. If they’re experienced, they’ll likely have this down to a fine art. They might even have their own freelancer who proofs everything for them.

If they’re not familiar with your niche, or they’re having a rough day, they might end up making several glaring mistakes—potentially leaving you to pick up the slack. With most freelance projects including at least one round of edits, however, it shouldn’t be an issue if you do need them to make changes.

Digital marketing agency

There’s usually far more quality control within a digital marketing agency than with freelancers. With a rigid structure in place, projects are usually moved from creator to editor to supervisor. This means that the work will undergo rounds of edits and improvements before it’s approved and sent over to you.

Longevity

Freelancer

If you know right off the bat that you’re looking for someone to help you with a long-term project, you’ll need to be frank with the freelancers that you’re approaching. Though some will be interested in taking on long-term work, many prefer one-off projects, which can leave you in the lurch if you want more work doing.

Digital marketing agency

Digital marketing agencies tend to be far more interested in and adept at handling long-term projects. Once they know you’re in it for the long run, they’ll set up targets to meet your goals and will keep you updated with reports, analytics and key metrics to ensure your project(s) stay on track.

Social proof

Case studies and testimonials example

Freelancer

Whether you’re picking a freelancer from Fiverr, Upwork or LinkedIn, you need to look at what forms of social proof they have to make sure they’re the right fit for you. With freelancers, this tends to be customer reviews and testimonials.

Though social proof is a good indicator of how much you can trust a business or individual, be sure to not place too much stock in it. Reviews and testimonials can be fabricated, after all.

Digital marketing agency

Digital marketing agencies tend to have much more in the way of social proof than freelancers. Not only do they have customer reviews and testimonials for you to trawl through, they also tend to have case studies, statistics and big brand name endorsements. This can make them seem much more reliable and trustworthy.

As with freelancers, you need to be careful not to make your entire decision based on social proof. Though an agency might have worked with a big brand, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s relevant to you. Let’s say you’re looking for blog content from Agency A. On their website, they say that they’ve worked with Apple, Coca-Cola and Microsoft. Great, right? Not really—turns out that the work was graphic design related, which is completely irrelevant to you.

Cost

Pound sign and an arrow

Freelancer

If you’ve spent more than a minute thinking about what freelancers charge for their work, you’ve probably had the words ‘budget-friendly’ and ‘affordable’ swimming around your head. This is an assumption that far too many businesses fall for and it has had a horrible impact on freelancers.

Though freelancers can seem cheaper than agencies because they’ve got fewer overheads and aren’t likely to be charging for VAT, that doesn’t mean that they’re cheap. What we mean is that you can’t expect to be paying buttons for quality work. You’re not just paying for the output; you’re paying for the freelancer’s carefully honed expertise and experience.

If you’re looking for someone to work on projects within a certain area of expertise, or on a short-term basis, it will be more cost-effective to stick to freelancers. If you’re interested in revamping your entire marketing strategy, however, forking out for multiple freelancers will set you back more than an agency.

Digital marketing agency

Hiring a digital marketing agency to take care of your marketing needs can cost you a pretty penny. But, as we’ve established, with an agency you’re paying for the extra manpower, a wide range of knowledge and experience, plus quality control. So, though it’s costly upfront, it’s a great investment for businesses looking to take their marketing strategy to the next level.

If you’re looking to hire someone for simple, standalone projects, e.g., four blog posts a month, rather than a full strategy, the added overheads and VAT that an agency charges might make it more cost-effective to opt for a freelancer.

Verdict: it’s entirely up to you

So, what have we learned? We could tell you that a digital marketing agency is always better than a freelancer, but that would be a lie. What it actually boils down to is what your business needs.

If you’re focusing entirely on one or two facets of your business, e.g., blog post content, social media posts or branding, then a freelancer will likely be your best option. They will be able to provide you with quality work on a one-off basis, with the potential to extend it if you like it enough for further work.

If, however, you’re looking for a full solution to your marketing woes, e.g., content, SEO, social media and branding, it would be a complete waste of money to opt for a freelancer. What you need is a digital marketing agency who will give you a full strategy to take your business to the next level.

In any case, if you’re looking for quality work, you’re going to need to fork out for it. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that either option will be cheap. Remember: buy cheap, buy twice!


Let Supersede save the day!

Mr Supersede on a plain background

If you’ve decided an agency is the way to go, or you’re still on the fence, Supersede is here to rescue you from your marketing woes. With years of experience under our belt, we’re more than equipped to elevate your business.

We can:

  • Provide quality content that will engage your target market and increase conversions
  • Help you take advantage of SEO opportunities which will increase organic traffic and click through rates
  • Audit your website to ensure that your content is high quality and that you’ve not made any SEO errors
  • Conduct audience and keyword research to make sure that you know who you’re targeting and what they’re interested in

Have a chat with us today to see how we can level up your marketing strategy. Simply give us a call, send us an email or use our contact form!

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