Digital Agency vs. Freelancer – Which One Should You Hire?
Running a business is a lot of work and as an entrepreneur, you’ve likely got a to-do list that is growing longer faster than tasks are getting struck off. Having a strong marketing strategy is hugely important for any small business’ success, but it’s easy for this to get buried deep down your to-do list – especially if you’re not extremely knowledgeable about the ins and outs of SEO, PPC and a whole host of other confusing abbreviations.
That’s why it’s very useful to outsource at least some of your marketing – especially if you’re not lucky enough to afford to have a large, talented marketing department on your team internally.
But should you hire a digital marketing agency or a freelancer to uplevel your digital marketing efforts? That’s what we’ll be exploring in today’s blog post, giving pros and cons for both options to help you figure out which option is right for your business.
People who go the freelance route in their careers usually do so having cut their teeth in agencies or working in-house for several years, meaning that they are well-rounded professionals and usually highly knowledgeable about their specific area of digital marketing, whether that be PPC or content marketing. This means you can find a freelancer with lots of relevant experience in your industry and working on the specific field within digital marketing that you’re interested in.
However, chances are that you need help with more than one thing when it comes to marketing – or at least will do in the future as your business grows. It’s not realistic to find one person who is an expert in all the different areas of digital marketing, from marketing automation to social media marketing, and be able to implement it all for you.
So chances are that at some point you’ll need to work with more than one marketing professional. If you choose the freelance route and stay on it, this will mean managing multiple freelancers who don’t know each other and who will likely not be in direct contact with each other regularly. A freelancer will usually rely on you for briefs and guidance, so if you lack technical knowledge in digital marketing, this could cause some serious communication issues.
With an agency, your business’ marketing strategy is devised and worked on by several specialised marketing professionals in order to reap the benefits of several different forms of digital marketing. You could even outsource your entire marketing function to a digital agency.
You’ll work with an account manager who is the go-between for you and the agency team, translating your needs to actionable goals for their team who will work together to meet objectives and support one another.
However, you don’t get to choose who on the agency’s team works on your campaigns and, if you’re a smaller account for them, chances are they won’t stick their most senior creatives on your campaigns and will instead give ownership of the account to more junior employees. That’s why we recommend that when signing up with an agency you ask who will actually be carrying out the work.
With agencies, especially the larger ones, the workplace is usually very fast-paced, with marketers chronically short on time. This means that smaller clients aren’t always the top priority when a larger client faces a sudden crisis or has a big deadline. That being said, working with an agency means you’ll always have a legally binding contract, something not all freelancers insist on.
Freelancers, on the other hand, usually choose self-employment in large part so they can make their own schedules and manage their workload. This means it could be easier to get a freelancer to put on those extra hours when disaster strikes or you need to make immediate changes to an ad campaign, even if this is during the weekend or after normal working hours.
However, things can get complicated with a freelancer when life gets in the way. After all, they’re just one person and can’t exactly plan for things like illness or a family emergency. In contrast, working with an agency means there’s usually always someone who can pick up the slack in case of an unplanned absence.
Additionally, if you work with an overseas freelancer, differences in your timezones and cultures can complicate things. While having your marketing freelancer(s) live in a different timezone can be handy for some things, like 24/7 monitoring of your social media channels, it can also mean you can’t get in touch with them immediately if something urgent comes up. Different countries will also have different work cultures which can make communication challenging.
There are freelancers out there for truly every budget, with digital marketing professionals hiring out their services on platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork at hourly rates ranging anywhere from £10 to well over £100.
But as the old adage goes, buy cheap and you buy twice. There are few things more stressful than trying to make things work with an inexperienced, unprofessional or simply unresponsive freelancer for months on end and have nothing of value to show for it.
Additionally, as your marketing needs grow, so will the number of freelancers you need on your roster and the number of hours they’ll need to dedicate to working on your campaigns. This means that going the freelance route might not be as affordable as you initially thought.
Agencies can often be far more expensive than freelancers due to higher overheads from multiple full-time salaries and running an office. On top of this, agencies don’t typically list their prices online and you could be hit with unforeseen extra expenses.
However, the quality of their work is more dependable because they have a bigger team to tackle your campaigns and internal standards and guidelines to follow. Additionally, some of them, like Bundle Digital, have money-back guarantees to make sure you’re delivered quality work.
The Bundle difference
At the end of the day, whether an agency or a freelancer is the right choice for you depends on what exactly you want to be done and where your priorities lie. However, going with a small digital marketing agency like Bundle could mean you get the best of both worlds.
Our aim has always been to fill a gap in the Edinburgh digital marketing landscape: an agency focusing on SMEs, with transparent pricing and a small, knowledgeable team who can handle all your digital marketing needs.
We’re a fully remote team working across a variety of industries, meaning we’re more flexible and have lower overheads so we can offer our services at a competitive rate. However, we’re a truly Scottish agency at heart, knowledgeable about local audiences and the competition business owners face across the UK. For more information about how we do things, check out our About page.