Ultimately, it will depend on your objectives and the services you will need. While people assume freelancers are cheaper, it’s not necessarily true. Freelancers can charge just as much as an agency and vice versa. Each offers a different level of expertise and way of doing things that can be beneficial depending on the task.
Before making any decisions, you should ask yourself a few questions about the project:
- How do I envision my finished product?
- How complex is the project?
- What is my budget?
Now that you have these questions in mind, it’s time to get educated on the differences. Let's get started!
When should you use an agency?
Do you need a Digital Marketing Agency?
It is important to note what kind of agency you are looking for before you begin. A digital marketing agency will not do things like developing a logo or theme for your company. They will work strongly on your website and SEO. They are, however, going to discuss the core values and goals of your company and execute an advertising strategy that aligns with those goals. A digital marketing agency can do its job most successfully when the branding for your company has already been established and if not, you should consider turning to a branding agency first.
Do you need a Branding Agency?
The role of a branding agency is to help identify your company’s values and personify them. Your branding is the first thing people see about your company. It is more than just a logo, it helps connect people to your mission. This is how the consumer identifies your company and distinguishes it from the millions of others out there. It is done in a creative, skillful, precise, and focused manner. Everything about branding is purposefully executed to deliver a message. Branding agencies are located all over the world and it is important to choose a branding agency that is located in the same area to help them better understand your culture and target market. For example, if you are located in Tel Aviv a Tel Aviv branding agency would have a clearer understanding of your market.
You need help with your long term growth strategy:
A marketing agency contains strategists, art directors, and marketers that will be more inclined to have a broader comprehensive vision of your growth. It’s worthwhile to invest in strategies for your company’s future growth, and agencies have the ability to do just that.
Generally, agencies can change direction and service levels due to their larger reservoir. They are a great resource for brainstorming and executing your desired ideas no matter how extravagant. They are also geared toward the “bigger picture,” giving you market strategies and branding that will last.
You need different talents all at once:
An agency has a whole staff of people who are specialized in branding, copywriting, website, SEO, and more. They will be able to introduce several talents at once, whereas a freelancer usually has one specific service to offer. When the whole team is working on all the marketing aspects simultaneously, things get done faster and deadlines are met.
You wish to externalize your marketing
Think of an agency as a white label, an external marketing team available all year long. You have access to a group of marketing experts with various skills and experience. They will always be on the same page regarding your business and marketing strategy constantly helping you grow and change.
You’re looking for that “high end” look & feel
Freelancers can be highly talented, but on the other hand, agencies are trained to produce high-quality work. They have the resources, talent, and equipment to create that desired sophisticated look and feel. They are also equipped to deal with and solve several problems at once. They have a reputation to uphold so they are prone to delivering a higher-level brand identity. You can have high expectations as the client and they can handle the stressful deadlines.
When should you use a freelancer?
You need help for a short period of time:
A freelancer usually works on something punctual for clients. You don’t have to have any prior commitment with them and can even use them for just a few hours if that’s what you need. With an agency, it’s more of a time commitment that involves contracts because the projects take longer and have more elements. A freelancer is at your disposal no matter how short the length of time is. They are a quick, easy, and accessible solution.
You don’t need a strategy, just execution:
If you know exactly what you want and can brief the freelancer on what you need to be done they can take it from there. If you already have a vision and are looking for someone to execute it a freelancer is your best bet, especially if the task doesn’t involve any long-term business strategy but just the task completion itself.
You need help on something really specific:
When it comes to things like social media content or a website banner, a freelancer may be better. Freelancers are usually more specialized in one area and can help you with a specific task. For example, if you are looking to update your website design you can hire an experienced freelance web designer to revamp your entire platform or tweak certain areas that feel outdated. Agencies tend to charge too much for a quick job and are usually geared toward bigger projects and long-term partnerships.
You have an urgent timeline
Due to a freelancer’s flexible hours and unconventional schedule, they have the ability to work faster than an agency. If projects are big enough, freelancers might even work on one project at a time making the experience more individual. They also have the ability to make your project a priority. So, if you hired them to work on something important like website design, you can work more collaboratively, constantly providing feedback and altering things to your liking.
If you need them at any hour
Freelancers are flexible and they don’t work a traditional 9 to 5. This fluidity and lack of structure is the exact reason they became a freelancer in the first place. They are also reachable at almost all hours and are more easily accessible. This can be incredibly beneficial if you run into any issues in the late hours of the night or on weekends. They have the ability to answer you immediately while a large agency will close up shop when the workday ends. But be aware, they might charge you extra for weekends or late nights!
Looking for a personal and focused relationship
Freelancers work on their own so their reputation is paramount. It is important to them to not only execute the work properly but to build a relationship. They want you to recommend them in the future so forming a relationship and a friendly rapport with the client is important. They will ensure your needs are met and tend to be great communicators. More than an agency, a freelancer is a person and they will treat you like one.
What to look out for before selecting an agency or a freelancer?
Step 1- Check their background and the industries they work in.
Verify whether the freelancer or agency you're considering has experience in the niche you're targeting. Ask what brands they've worked with and whether they understand your industry. If they don't, chances are, they won't be able to prepare a proper business plan for you.
Step 2- Check their portfolio and results
Don’t be afraid to ask for their previous work. If you don’t ask you run the risk of not liking the outcome. Take a look at their portfolio and pay attention to their style and aesthetic. Additionally, make sure to ask them for multiple projects so you can see a variety.
Step 3- Ask for performance data
It is important to make sure that the agency or freelancer your choose can offer tangible evidence of their performance. Not everyone can provide specific metrics or data but some marketers can offer scores that track previous campaign performances.
Step 4- Check their reviews
You can gain insight into their work ethic by viewing the agency or freelancer’s reviews. Were they always courteous? Were they quick to answer emails? Did they respond well when a crisis arose? Customers are most likely to leave a review if the experience was really good or really bad so you can gain some valuable insight before committing.
Step 5- Compare the prices and the time spent on a project:
A freelancer can seem cheaper but keep in mind that the payment schedule might be a little tighter than when working with an agency. They might even charge per hour and it can take them longer to finish a project. Usually, an agency can provide high-quality work while offering convenient payment schedule options. un