Hiring a Digital Marketing Agency vs. Hiring Freelancers

Ensuring the online growth of your business and the development of your brand largely depends on the support you have along the way. Digital marketing strategies are complex and long-term Рyou need to have the right approach, experience, knowledge, and resources. That is why most business owners opt for outsourcing such solutions rather than consuming time and effort on a DIY approach. Once you do come to this crossroads, you will have an important decision to make between hiring a digital marketing agency vs. hiring freelancers. Digital Dot helps you look at the bigger picture by offering a detailed list of pros and cons for each option, all in hopes of making the decision simpler for you.

Man and woman with laptops, discussing something.
Hiring a digital marketing agency vs. hiring freelancers – which is the better solution for your business?

Start from the basic comprehension of each option

Despite most business owners being familiar with the notion of both digital marketing agencies and freelancers, there are always those that are just starting their business. It’s always a good starting point to define or re-visit your options and clearly lay them out in the open. All companies share a common goal to create a self-sustainable and profitable system with a constant growth rate. It’s just a matter of choosing the right path to get there:

  • Freelancers are independent marketing consultants with the experience and knowledge that they gained from working for big companies in the past. Although more affordable, the services they provide are limited in volume and can often take more time.
  • Digital marketing agencies present a larger, organized team of professionals that operate inside a hierarchical system, with clear goals and targets that they need to fulfill for each project. They do, however, operate on their own terms and established price rates.

The pros & cons of hiring a digital marketing agency vs. hiring freelancers

Since this decision can have a significant impact on the online development of your company and brand, you will want to inspect all influential factors. To get the best possible image of the strengths and weaknesses of agencies and freelancers, consider the following seven metrics:

  • Quality
  • Workload
  • Assurance
  • Results
  • Structure
  • Flexibility
  • Cost

1. Quality

Freelancer

Good digital marketing freelancers usually have a strong educational background that sustains their long-term employment. Whether they majored in web design and development, advertising, or communications – they will have the knowledge to provide a quality project, especially if they have experience with your industry.

On the other hand, since they are not part of your company, it can be challenging to incorporate your brand values in the work that freelancers do for you. So, the quality might not be as tailored to your specific needs as you would like it to be. Also, the higher the quality you expect, the more time it will take for a freelancer to deliver because a lot depends on their level of self-discipline and the efforts they are willing to invest in projects.

Digital Marketing Agency

Hiring a digital marketing agency gives you an entire team of people that have the background, training, and experience to offer coordinated top-quality digital solutions. Additionally, professional agencies have a certain standard of quality that they need to uphold to remain competitive. The only obstacle here would be that agencies (especially those that have experience in your niche) will ask a higher price for top-quality tailored services.

2. Workload

Freelancer

In most cases, hiring freelancers can operate on the same notion as hiring an in-house digital marketing expert. Their work is usually limited and completely oriented to a single project at a time. And this gives them the dedication necessary to commit to that job. However, it can just as easily happen for freelancers to take on more clients at one time, which quickly affects the quality of their work. Additionally, when freelancers become indisposed due to illness or personal issues, your plans are put on hold as well.

Digital Marketing Agency

The team structure that agencies have enables them to take on and handle a larger workload, be it from one client or multiple ones. No matter how demanding and numerous your tasks are, they have the capacity to accommodate them. And if any single team member was to fall ill or go on leave, there are always others that can take his/her place. Since agencies deal with multiple clients, your business won’t always get priority over that of other clients they have. But the level of quality will remain the same nonetheless.

3. Assurance

Freelancer

Personal integrity and reputation are fundamental for any freelancer to help them secure new clients. Therefore, freelancers with long-standing track records or ones that you worked with in the past will be able to offer a continuous assurance of quality work for your business. Long-term trust and assurances are still based on the capabilities that individuals can offer. Freelancers lack the resources to cater to the needs of large companies and corporations.

Digital Marketing Agency

In order to boost their reputation and portfolio, it is in the interest of any agency to have as many successful clients as possible. The potential downside here is that your knowledge when researching and hiring digital marketing agencies is limited to what you find online. Hence, it can be difficult to make the right choice when hiring a digital marketing agency. Especially when you haven’t had the chance to work with them before or have no prior knowledge of them, forcing you to rely on online reviews and other user-generated data (all of which can be easily faked nowadays).

4. Results

Freelancer

It is in the best interest of each independent contractor to offer results for their employers. The better the results are, the higher the chance that you will refer other clients to them. However, since you can’t rely on freelancers to commit to a single project long-term, the results they provide have a limited time frame.

Additionally, you can only count on results for a part of a larger project. The chances that you will find a freelance SEO expert that also dabbles in web development are slim to none. And then there is the fact that nobody can guarantee that a quality freelancer you hire won’t outsource certain parts of the work to other freelancers, which can save time but lead to errors.

Digital Marketing Agency

It is in the best interest of every digital marketing company to establish long-term relationships and contracts with customers. Reaching pre-arranged goals and offering satisfying results is the best way to achieve that. Therefore, agencies have the motivation to push toward optimal results for your business in the long run. And they also have the resources to conduct regular analytics of all your marketing activities, to maintain the results they provide. The potential downside here is that a lot of professional digital marketing teams with multiple clients will avoid investing all their resources in a single project but rather in providing contract-determined results for all their clients.

5. Structure

Freelancer

Since they have a more extensive range of day-to-day interactions with people through the work they do, it can prove easier for freelancers to understand the needs of your potential customers. A freelancer is still a one-man-show – which means that they have no structure for you to rely on. They can easily prioritize their full attention to a larger client at any point. And if they need to corporate with other freelancers to get the job done, their lack of synchronization can easily cause delays and unwanted conflicts.

Digital Marketing Agency

Agencies have a well-organized internal structure, enabling them to take on multiple large projects. Also, understanding the inner working of a company and how important the role of each department makes them more understanding of the goals of your company. Another benefit of agencies is the objective approach and resources they have to analyze your current digital marketing efforts.

Since a digital marketing agency has its own operational structure, larger companies and corporations have a tendency to look at them as a third party contingency plan rather than a partner. The more you include agencies in your structure, the more motivated they will be to prioritize your business.

6. Flexibility

Freelancer

Since there is no formal structure or procedures to follow, freelancers can be more agile in fulfilling ad hoc tasks that you set for them. Unfortunately, the overall flexibility of freelancers is burdened with a lack of the overall quality of the work. Especially when we’re talking about working on a deadline.

Digital Marketing Agency

Professional agencies have the manpower necessary to jump in and complete tasks with short deadlines. And the work they do will easily meet your need for top-quality project management. On the other hand, the larger and more successful an agency is, the less flexible it will be in terms of response time. This is usually due to an overwhelming number of daily requests from clients.

7. Cost

Freelancer

Hiring a freelancer for a specific task or a list of things you need is more cost-effective than hiring an in-house marketing specialist on a full-time salary. So long as your requirements are specific and one-time, the budget-friendly choice is definitely hiring freelancers for digital marketing. On the other hand, not all freelancers are cheap. Quality freelance marketers with a rich portfolio tend to factor in their experience and personal expenses in their pricing rates. That means that hiring top-quality freelancers can end up costing you just as much as hiring a good digital marketing agency.

Digital Marketing Agency

Although more expensive than freelancers, hiring digital marketing agencies is a much safer long-term investment. Additionally, it is more cost-efficient to have a monthly package with an agency than to cash out full-time salaries for an entire in-house team. One of the more expensive mistakes a company can make is to hire an agency for a single project or on a short-term basis. However, when you opt for a more long-term relationship, you get service continuity and accountability at a well-established monthly fee.

The Project Management Triangle

In the end, you can use the “Project Management Scope Triangle” to make your decision between hiring a digital marketing agency vs. hiring freelancers. According to this theory, managing any project comes down to the basic three principles:

  • Time
  • Cost
  • Quality

Time, cost, quality - the Project Management Scope TriangleHowever, you can never accomplish all three scopes in their full capacity, but rather ensure only two of them at best. And it’s simple to apply it here.

  1. By hiring freelancers for digital marketing, you stay on top in terms of time and cost but end up lacking in quality. Another option with freelance marketers is that you get cost-effective and quality services, but they take a lot of time to provide them.
  2. When you opt for hiring a digital marketing agency, your overall expenses are higher but you get top-quality and time-saving solutions in return.

When you take a holistic approach, it boils down to determining what you want your business to focus on at a given stage of its development. Startups are usually forced to opt for DIY solutions or working with freelancers until they get the ball rolling. Businesses with strong financial foundations are more oriented toward brand development and dominating their competitors – a goal in which digital marketing agencies with experience come in handy.

Bonus criteria to take into consideration

There are always additional factors that a company should consider before opting for a digital marketing agency or a freelancer. In addition to the pros and cons that we explained above, there are two additional elements to take into consideration:

  • Niche-related experience. Whether or not an agency or a freelancer has experience with your industry and market can significantly influence the overall quality and speed of the work they do. On the other hand, it can be time-consuming to find someone that specializes in your branch of business.
  • Portfolio & overall performance. It’s important to have a clear idea of what it is that you are investing in. When a freelancer or an agency can provide examples of their past work or campaign performances, it can instill trust. Unfortunately, not all agencies or freelancers can provide performance data.

Consider all the factors before making the final call

Team of people with laptops
Take your time with making the right call for your business.

The points we made portray all the criteria one needs to consider when deciding on hiring a digital marketing agency vs. hiring freelancers. You still need to take everything into consideration and look at the bigger picture before making the call on which option suits your business plan most. Despite the cost-effective and flexible approach that hiring freelancers offers, the work they can offer is short-term and not always up to the task quality-wise. If you are more oriented towards fulfilling long-term goals and growing your brand, hiring a digital marketing agency is the finer choice to make here.

If you decide to go with hiring freelancers, there are plenty of sites where you can find them, and we wish you the best of luck in the selection process. However, if you want a high-performance digital marketing agency that is aware of all the downsides and is determined to overcome all of them – contact us and let’s talk more.

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