Freelancer or agency: Should I hire someone who is independent (freelance), or should I work with a creative agency to look after my business’ communications needs?

This is one of the first questions business owners ask themselves when it comes to their communications – PR, marketing, web, social media, email marketing, copywriting, branding… If you can’t do these things yourself, who is it best to hand them over to? Freelancer or agency?

freelancer or agency

Photo by Hoáng Nguyên on Unsplash

For some, it’s a no-brainer. But others will wrestle with the decision not knowing what’s best. It can be tricky.

The crux of the dilemma is… what do you need and why? What kind of skills and expertise is required?

Price, delivery, timescale, quality of work, and service are important, as is a considered budget. If you need a large scale marketing campaign with a lot of hands on deck across several areas – web, social media, traditional media, email marketing, events – then you need to ask yourself whether one person can do this. But if you don’t need half of this activity, or if you need specific parts of it done, then you don’t need to hire an agency. Of course, you’d expect me to say that wouldn’t you, but even without selling my wares, the decision is simple and goes back to… what do you need and why?

The differences

The main differences between working with a freelancer or agency, are that as an independent communications expert we work for ourselves and with you directly as our client.

If you hire an agency you are effectively working with the agency as a whole. It’s likely you’ll be dealing with an Account Manager, who works with various teams within the agency, and work is passed to the relevant department such as digital, design, PR or marketing. The people within those teams will work on the projects you’ve agreed to for your business.

When you work with an independent expert you will typically deal with them only. It’s one-to-one and you build a relationship.

As someone who works independently, I’m able to develop an understanding of your business needs from a perspective that’s close enough to see the issues that you can’t. And can give an objective, honest opinion. Looking at your business from an objective position is hugely beneficial when it comes to planning a strategy that works best for you. Not to mention the personal touch, this is only possible when working one-to-one. You know your client’s business, and you get to know them too – so you find out how they tick and see where the business is heading. Priceless.

In most cases working with an independent expert is less expensive than hiring an agency. Agencies have more people on the ground, and because of this more wages to pay.

Some businesses think they’re guaranteed to receive a better standard of work from an agency because of an agency’s image, how its promoted and because other businesses use them. This isn’t necessarily the case. Nor is the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’. Large agencies tend to have full-time employees and at times outsource/subcontract their work to…those who freelance. And so the circle is complete, we come back to the independent expert – hmmm, funny that? (smirk).

Freelancer or Agency? Here are some tips!

  • Consider your options. Think about what you really need for your business and who is best placed to deliver it.
  • Budget. How much you have to spend, and how you spend it is crucial. Make sure you and who you’re working with are clear on what will be done and when it will be delivered.
  • Think about how your business works. If flexibility and being responsive is key, dealing with someone who is independent versus dealing with several people may be a better option.

If you’re looking to gain media coverage, PR strategy, or need written work done (newsletters, blogs or email marketing content) do get in touch. Email me – karen@cupandstring.co.uk or use my Contact Form.