Digital Marketing Agencies Vs. Freelancers: Who's Better?
'A digital marketing agency or a freelance marketer, who is the right fit for me?'— We've got you covered on the pros and cons of both.
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'A digital agency or a freelance marketer, who is the right fit for me?'
Let's agree. This is the piece in the jigsaw puzzle of your marketing route that truly drives you bonkers. The part without which it is impossible to put your sales flow in place.
Want to know how digital agencies bury their own pitfalls in the marketing game? Read to know more- why marketing agencies fail to grow
A new entrant into the business world. A full-fledged corporation with a sizeable market share. A brick-and-mortar business set to chart out its digital footprints. A company with a brand image as robust and visible as it should be. A start-up striving to scale up its operations.
You might be any one of them.
There's one thing that binds all of them together.
And that is the power of digital marketing to pour revenue into your business. No one other than digital agencies and freelance marketers would seem fit enough to get this task started and keep the momentum going.
That's a pretty simple and straightforward fact you have figured out already.
But singling out the most ideal choice for your business between digital agency Vs freelancer is not really a walk in the park.
It makes you dive deep into the size of your business. Your budget. The output you want your marketing activities to generate. The resources you have. The kind of expertise you need. Your position in the current business climate. Your brand visibility. The phase of your business cycle.
You could still find digital marketing agencies and freelance marketers in a never-ending deadlock even after doing all of this.
Minimum cost and maximum returns. The parameter to make your decision is set in stone.
Ultimately you get down to the task of looking for 'the one'. You will come across thousands of marketing firms and freelance marketers flooding your search engine results. Each presents assurances of the most effective lead generation campaigns and conversion rates. All hitting your weak points of time and price with offers as exciting and feasible as possible.
Do you find yourself stuck in this baffling maze too often?
If you do, you are not alone.
Before getting straight down to tackling this issue at its roots, it would do you good to place digital marketing agencies and freelance marketers in two separate compartments.
Digital Agency And Freelance Marketer- In A Nutshell
A digital marketing agency provides everything from search engine marketing to web designing. All techniques, methods, and strategies to put forward your products and services in the digital space. Sales, leads, and traffic generation is the end purpose of it all.
A freelance marketer is a self-employed individual who crafts advertising campaigns, social media strategies, content material, and everything to promote your business online along with triggering brand awareness and sales. They do this on a per-project basis and their services are not tied to a particular company.
Digital Agency Vs. Freelancer: Dissecting The Pros And Cons
Like everything else, digital marketing agencies and freelance marketers have pros and cons of their own.
Let's get down to uncovering them.
Table Of Contents
Benefits Of Freelance Marketers:
- A Touch Of Breeze In Your Marketing Budget
- Flexibility And Change: Time-Tested Recipe To Up The Freelance Marketing Game
- One Marketing Professional Donning Many Hats
- Rope In A Freelance Marketer When You Want To, Not When You Can
Disadvantages Of Freelance Marketers:
- Might Abandon Your Marketing Project Halfway
- Freelance Marketers: Round-The-Clock Availability Comes With Strings Attached
- Finding A Freelance Marketer- A Tiresome Chase
- Freelancers And Free-Flowing Communication? Not A Faithful Pair
Benefits Of Digital Marketing Agencies:
- A Palette Of Skills Served By Multiple Marketing Professionals
- All Tools And Resources For Your Marketing Project In One Place
- Communication With A Digital Agency: Solid, Crisp, And Crystal-Clear
- Digital Marketing Agency: Easy-Peasy Payment System
Disadvantages Of Digital Marketing Agencies:
- Digital Agency- Scrambling With Divided Loyalties
- Digital Agency Services- Costs That Can Shoot Over The Top
- Marketing Project Partnerships- Not Really Your Choice?
- Digital Marketing Agency: Not A 24/7 Companion
Benefits Of Freelance Marketers
1. A Touch Of Breeze In Your Marketing Budget
Freelance marketers might pack their bags and leave once they get a project done and dusted.
But they won't cost you an arm and a leg.
Salary, medical benefits, paid-time off, training costs, insurance, payroll taxes. The list of expenses go on and on when it comes to hiring a full-time in-house marketing team.
And digital marketing agencies aren't a cheap affair either. The prices they charge cover the entire spectrum of the rented space they work in. It doesn't stop here. Front-end developers. Graphic designers. Content writers. Search engine marketing specialists. The over-all price offsets the costs of maintaining their specialists as well.
Suppose you have a grand project coming up. Say, a full-fledged email marketing campaign. And there seems to be a talent gap in your in-house team or digital marketing agency in providing that level of expertise you need in pulling off this campaign spot-on. But you wouldn't need the person anymore after this project is done away with.
This is when securing the services of a freelance marketer is a fantastic idea.
Or maybe you are a startup that cannot afford the full gamut of marketing services. And at this point, just one or two services like content writing and social media management would do every once in a while.
It can even be that your business is walking a tightrope and putting a tight lid on every expense that it can do without. But you still need an easy, cost-effective solution to promote your products and services on digital platforms.
A freelance marketer would be the right choice for you in such scenarios. Without compromising on work output, of course.
And the best part is they charge only for that one marketing service you want them to do for you.
If you rely on freelancing platforms like upwork, the hourly rates for freelance marketers fall between $15 and $45 per hour.
2. Flexibility And Change: Time-Tested Recipe To Up The Freelance Marketing Game
9-5 does sound like structure, ease, convenience, and balance for in-house marketing teams. Not for a business.
Especially when your website goes down in the middle of the night. Or a Saturday evening brings on a barrage of trolls and comments you got to combat on social media platforms in a jiffy.
This is why freelance digital marketers go all out and dismantle the 9/5 tradition to be there when you need someone to clear any mess in your marketing strategy and keep the sales cycle going.
They focus on one project at a time without taking on the wide platter of services that digital marketing agencies often have to contend with.
Since they get hired on a contractual basis that needs to be completed in a definite time-frame, flexibility is something that freelance marketers ensure in their work culture.
However, flexibility is not a mirror which reflects only one face. This is especially the case when it comes to freelance marketers.
If there's one thing you need to know about freelance marketers, it is that they divorce from the "That's how we have always done it" approach that digital marketing agencies often use as the mould for shaping every service they offer and every strategy they formulate for their clients.
Freelance marketers need to keep themselves fresh and offbeat to stay in the marketing game. And they do this by keeping pace with breakthroughs in content marketing, sales lead generation techniques, social media copywriting, search engine optimization, and anything else floating about in the big and wide marketing space.
Not just this.
If freelance marketing does mean getting hired on a per-project basis, it comes as no surprise if companies would want them to make their entry the most when their in-house team or digital marketing agency remain stagnant in their own time-honored marketing strategies and fail to generate roi with them.
Innovation and novelty is the driving point. Especially in a field as dynamic and ever-evolving as digital marketing.
And this is how freelance marketers stay in business.
3. One Marketing Professional Donning Many Hats
Often, recruiting employees for an in-house marketing agency or a digital marketing agency has its set of constraints to deal with.
And that boils down to accessibility. Geographical limitations, even.
You might find yourself confining the set of marketing professionals you choose to the ones within a certain region.
The great plus-point of freelance marketers is that it blurs this parameter for recruitment.
You can log into a freelance website and pick any freelancer from any part of the world. The focus will entirely point towards choosing the one that checks all the boxes for the skill-sets, expertise, qualification, and experience you need.
At its heart, your choice will be founded entirely on the portfolio of the freelance marketer without having to circle out the best available person in your immediate vicinity.
Freelance marketers never jump into freelancing gigs right from the beginning. After gaining hands-on experience in various full-time marketing roles for businesses specializing in niches more than one, freelancing becomes an option for some.
And this is how they bring about a fresh lease of life to any marketing strategy that becomes redundant in the evolving digital marketing landscape.
Every business is devoted to a specific niche. The marketing strategies for a healthcare firm would not work if you applied the same to a company steeped in the fashion industry.
This is something freelance marketers know like the back of their hands.
If you scour the internet for freelancers well-versed with say, programmatic SEO in the pharmaceutical industry, you would find exactly the one that caters this marketing service.
And this by and large indicates how seriously freelance marketers take a business niche to be in their marketing expertise.
There might come a time when your in-house marketing team or digital marketing strategy get so stuck up in the bureaucratic process and executing project deliverables that it extracts all the creativity and inflow of innovative concepts for marketing activities.
Or maybe their skill-sets become too standardized that is no longer enough to persuade the target audience and elicit customer action.
A project might demand expertise in a specific marketing activity, and your digital marketing agency or the in-house marketing team seem to be lacking in that area and you cannot afford the time and energy for upskilling them.
Freelance marketers step into to fill this gap.
With their insights on the marketing techniques that work best for each niche and constantly adapting to current trends in the marketing climate, even a startup would be able to scale up their company and craft marketing campaigns that captivates buyers and converts potential buyers into loyal customers.
All without the hassle of adding them to your permanent payroll.
4. Rope In A Freelance Marketer When You Want To, Not When You Can
Planning a marketing project isn't always a breeze. Market research. Identifying target audience. Setting ROI goals. Arriving at KPI's. Setting a feasible budget. Executing a marketing audit. Crafting strategic marketing models. Building an implementation schedule.
In the hectic scramble towards putting all of this together within the expected timeframe, the only thing you can expect to pull off at the snap of a finger is getting a freelance marketer on board.
Sifting through hundreds of resumes. Scheduling interview calls. Investing time and resources in the training program.
You wouldn't have to touch shoulders with any of this when you hire a freelance marketer.
All you would have to do is log into a freelance marketing portal, look into the portfolios of freelancers that details out their work experience, skillsets, and the niche they specialize in. And circle out the one that seamlessly fits into the requirements of your marketing plan.
Whoosh, you ultimately have a freelance marketer all ready to understand what output you want your marketing campaign to generate and grab the task head-on.
Zero investment and pumped-up output. Freelance marketers blend this pair in every marketing project they deliver to you.
'One at a time' approach doesn't deserve to get a bad rap all the time. Particularly when it comes to freelancers.
Centering on one project at a time within a set deadline. Freelance marketers do not take too much on their plate. Swift deliveries, optimal sales output, building a resonant brand image, lead generation.
You want a quick fix for an absence in your marketing team. Need more hands to work on a project. An immediate revamping of strategies in your marketing model. Getting a freelance marketer on board is what you should be headed towards.
Disadvantages Of Freelance Marketers
1. Might Abandon Your Marketing Project Halfway
Quickness and precision in delivery is promised. But the guarantee of staying till the end? Not really.
If you think a contract is what it takes to blow this issue away, freelance marketers don't emphasize on one when you hire them.
This takes away any legal safeguard you could have have resorted to. In case they did not get your job done.
Picking a freelance marketer of your choice from any part of the world makes remote working a reality.
This means zero hassle of a separate workstation for them. No training costs. No investment of resources. No equipment costs.
But that comes with its own perils.
It makes it all the more easier for them to step away mid-way through a marketing project you have hired them for.
You run the risk of not knowing their whereabouts and bringing back everything you have planned in your marketing project to square one.
And phew, the time-snatching ordeal of looking for another right fit is staring at you in the eye again.
But the timeframe within which you need to get your full-blown marketing project launched only keeps diminishing.
Ultimately, you might find yourself succumbing to the pressure of getting your project out there sailing within the stipulated timespan and hunting down for that replacement who would turn your marketing project into an executed campaign.
Mind you, all at the same time.
2. Freelance Marketers: Round-The-Clock Availability Comes With Strings Attached
Let's say there is a sudden unexpected glitch in your product or service. And you got to keep your customers in the loop. Before you know it, there are call-outs from your audience about the same on every social media platform.
Responding swiftly to them is a proactive approach to keeping your brand image consistent, right?
If you have hired a freelance marketer, you can always rest back knowing that they will deal with this even at the break of dawn.
But, as we are all aware, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
Freelancers promise you all-round availability and flexibility to deliver sizeable roi on any of your marketing campaigns. Letting go of evening and weekend offs, even.
Not without tugging at your purse strings a little extra.
3. Finding A Freelance Marketer- A Tiresome Chase
Sure, sifting through portfolios till you find the one that catches your eye can sound like a task you can finish ahead of schedule.
But then there comes the bummer of forged portfolios.
It can snatch a lot of time on your clock either way.
Suppose you went ahead and singled out a portfolio that has all the skill-sets, area of expertise, and work experience you are looking for. You got the freelancer on board. Only to realize in the midst of a crucial phase in the marketing campaign is that they don't seem to be able to get it right and reflect the execution that you hired them for.
And launching an effective marketing campaign boils down to strategic timing, right?
Well, you would be forced to compromise on that now.
Firing a freelance marketer at this point is reasonable, no doubt about that.
A massive chunk of your timeframe would disappear into thin air anyway.
Apart from losing out on the time it took while diving into the marketing campaign, a little more of it would be down for loss when you have to go through the process of hiring another freelance marketer again.
Let's take another scenario.
Maybe you have put all the checks and balances in place to ensure 100 per cent credibility.
You look out for valid website links. You scrutinize the ratings they have got from other clients. See their work sample. You google their bio. Whatever it takes to throw away fishy portfolios.
Even then, it is surely going to be a tedious and time-sapping test.
Here's how you can steer clear of fake freelancers- spot a fake freelancer
4. Freelancers And Free-Flowing Communication? Not A Faithful Pair
Call reminders are one tap away. Scheduling meets. The convenience of sending personal messages over WhatsApp.
Freelancers make themselves accessible to their clients via informal channels.
But communication with freelance marketers can turn out to be a hassle if they live in a time-zone different than yours.
Also, structured communication channels aren't intact when it comes to freelance marketers.
If you have a full-fledged marketing project underway, you need to wait for the availability of the freelance marketer to keep a track on the progress and KPIs'.
Getting hold of an alternate person for a call in case the freelance marketer isn't within easy reach. Especially at the time you need some important user engagement metrics related to your ongoing lead generation campaign.
This would not be possible.
But something you can pull off quite easily with digital marketing agencies.
Benefits Of Digital Marketing Agencies
1. A Palette Of Skills Served By Multiple Marketing Professionals
A digital agency is basically what an organization is supposed to be.
And that is, a group of people rowing in the same boat to deliver the same end objective.
The people within a digital marketing agency aren't plain rookies who have no idea what pay-per-click , cost-per-click, or the thousands of marketing models are out there.
When you hire a digital agency, you get people armed with an umbrella of skills and experiences in various facets of marketing strategies.
The first thing digital marketing agencies do when they sign a contract with a client is to make your brand their own. Become intimate with it. Understand its pain points. Understand the channels it needs to create to unleash its optimal potential. Understand its mission.
All in all, look in the same direction your brand does.
And once a digital marketing agency does that, the gates are thrust wide open for it to draft and design the marketing strategy and models that is tailored to the output you want your marketing efforts to generate.
The great plus-point is you wont have to chant what you expect from your marketing ROI again and again.
Digital marketing agencies get that out of you right before any marketing project is embarked upon.
Take yourself to be a startup out there to build a strong brand image in the digital arena and you bring in a digital marketing agency to take on the task.
A digital marketing agency will have every single person you would need to turn this into a reality. An seo specialist. Content writers. Website developers. Graphic designers. Social media copywriters. You name it.
When you have an upcoming marketing project in the pipeline, hiring an agency will be an 'all-in-one' solution for everything you want it to generate.
High-quality leads. Brand awareness. Boosting customer engagement. Acquiring new customers. Increasing website traffic. Enhance customer value. Generate revenue. It could be anything. All you would need to do is straighten out your expectations.
2. All Tools And Resources For Your Marketing Project In One Place
A digital marketing agency doesn't just equate to 'more people'. Add 'more resources' to the mix and you are good to go.
Crafting and streamlining a marketing campaign doesn't happen by waving a magic wand.
You got to get the tools, analytics, and automations in place. For any marketing activity you want to pull off. For transforming your marketing project into a full-blown reality.
Be it affiliate marketing. Email marketing. Pay-per-click. Search engine optimization. Social media marketing. Content marketing. Keyword research. Competitive analysis.
Canva. SEMrush. Ahrefs. Convert Kit. Google Analytics. Google Trends. Facebook Business Manager. Mailchimp. Hootsuite. The list goes on.
And let's face it. Not only do we have zero clue about what tools and technology are needed to generate marketing ROI. We have no idea where and how to get hold of them.
But here's the good news. That is . . . if you decide to hire a digital marketing agency.
They are armed with every single online marketing tool to give wings to your marketing campaigns.
Even if these tools knock on your door as premium services, you don't have to break into cold sweat over the additional expenses you will have to bear to make use of them in your marketing campaigns.
That's because digital marketing agencies are well-equipped to utilize these tools and technologies to give momentum to your digital presence.
To deliver the lead generation, brand awareness, optimal reach, engagement, pour in profits, increase market share, shrink the sales cycle, enhance brand authority.
In such a way that the costs your digital marketing agency made you incur to get those online marketing tools in place will seem like a paltry sum in the long run. Something that wouldn't create much of a difference even if they popped up in your expense sheet every month.
3. Communication With A Digital Agency: Solid, Crisp, And Crystal-Clear
You can't just implement a marketing campaign and rest back expecting optimal ROI and lead generation to shower on you.
Digital marketing agencies are pretty much acquainted with that already.
Routine meetings. Weekly reviews. Periodic calls. A project manager appointed for keeping a tab on the metrics and analytics that indicate how far the marketing project has reached.
Returning to the marketing goals you set with the digital marketing agency right before the contract was sealed. And seeing whether the ultimate delivery and output sees eye to eye with it.
Tracking the progress by measuring the reach, engagement, leads, traffic, and sales generation that the marketing project has stimulated.
All of this does not happen once in a blue moon. Or only in the final juncture of the services a digital marketing agency provides you.
It will happen at every stage. Every phase. From the beginning till the end.
To spot and eliminate any error or inconsistency in your marketing model as and when it happens. Right before it can dilute all the sizeable gains you might have bagged at the end stage of your marketing campaign.
4.Digital Marketing Agency: Easy-Peasy Payment System
Suppose you want to carry out an email outreach program for, say, one month.
Maybe a full-fledged advertising campaign on social media and video sharing platforms that stretches over for as long as three months.
Or you want to rope in a digital marketing agency to furnish blogs for your website and get going.
Whatever it is that you want your digital marketing agency to do, take note of one thing.
Digital marketing agencies will never scatter your payments all over the place.
The pricing will be molded by the size of your business and the scale of your marketing project.
Versatile and concrete payment schedules are something digital marketing agencies go by.
And they do this by sending out a structured invoice detailing every single activity and tool they are charging you for.
This only happens when the digital marketing agency has unloaded the entire baggage of services you hired them for.
All the more possible for you to see for yourself the ROI, brand engagement, traffic flow, or any other output you expected the digital marketing agency to deliver in the marketing project. And settle the invoices sent in by the digital marketing agency only after that.
You also get to conduct a litmus test on the digital marketing agency based on the execution and end results they handed over to you upon completion of the marketing project. If it is a small one and they pulled that off exceptionally well, it can be a fertile ground to plant your decisions of hiring them for bigger marketing initiatives in the future.
Disadvantages Of Digital Marketing Agencies
1. Digital Agency- Scrambling With Divided Loyalties
Tools and resources- check.
But that one thing digital marketing agencies cannot tick off your list is whether your project will receive unfailing attention.
Let's come straight to the point. Your project is not the only one that will keep a digital marketing agency afloat in the fiercely competitive waters of business.
The motivation to generate massive output and delivery in marketing projects will be tilted more towards the big-ticket clients.
So by if any chance your marketing project seems to look like something that can be pushed to the margins, a digital marketing agency can stumble in the commitment and priority it ought to give you.
Especially when the client base is way too overloaded and digital marketing agencies get into the process of segregating them into 'important' and 'not-so-important' stacks.
2. Digital Agency Services- Costs That Can Shoot Over The Top
Digital marketing agencies come with a huge price tag. Plain and simple.
Price= Cost + Markup.
The price formula might be set straight.
But the two components that add up to make the price are not.
Around 20 to 50 per cent of the cost is devoted to the markup.
The upkeep of the digital marketing agency makes up a huge chunk of the payment invoice digital marketing agencies send out to you once your marketing project is done and dusted.
Remember the tools that digital marketing agencies use to streamline and leverage your marketing campaigns? Well, that doesn't come without burning a hole in your pocket.
It doesn't stop here.
Rental charges for the dedicated office space they work from. Maintenance. Supplies.
Government licensing fee. Corporate taxes. You got to shell out your money for the whole gamut of professional fees.
Workforce costs like salaries, insurance, perks, bonuses, and training costs.
The costs that come with designing and managing your website.
And the extra layer of fees that comes with advertising, travel, accommodation, directory listing.
Want to get a digital marketing agency on board?
A big, fat marketing budget will surely be your constant companion then.
3. Marketing Project Partnerships- Not Really Your Choice?
A digital agency is always brimming with content writers. SEO specialists. Social media managers. Blog writers. Front end developers. Every single professional you would need to bind together every moving part of your marketing strategy to arrive at the endgame.
But here's the thing. The professional assigned to you by the digital agency gets thrust upon you.
When you hire a marketing agency, you hire it as a whole. You don't hire specific people within the agency.
This is a tricky dance you got to groove to.
If your business has not scaled up well enough, you could get paired with a newbie.
The most experienced, skilled professionals in a digital marketing agency get allotted to hefty corporations.
A digital marketing agency operates in a hierarchal structure.
There's another downside to it.
The person who takes charge of your marketing project might not possess the skill-sets you were hunting for. The strategic goals you set for the marketing ROI, reach, engagement, and visibility can run the risk of not being accomplished.
At the end of it all, you are burning a hole in your pocket without even getting the right person and the right results. What more could defeat the purpose of roping in a digital marketing agency?
4. Digital Marketing Agency: Not A 24/7 Companion
An all-round bonanza, a digital marketing agency surely is.
Round-the-clock? Not at all.
Digital agencies stick to the 9-5 rule.
But does your digital agency see your marketing project as a small cog in the large wheel of big-ticket clients it is pushing forward?
Then you can squeeze the 9-5 slot even tighter.
Your business might have 24/7 customer service and keep its engines rolling day in and day out.
But not necessarily the digital marketing agency you hire.
If you've come so far, you are already well aware that timing makes or breaks a digital marketing campaign.
The decisions customers make about different products vary throughout the day. It is the unspoken mantra of marketing to strike at the right needs at the right time.
Anything that comes under 'I-want-to-know', 'I-want-to-go', 'I-want-to-do' and 'I-want-to-buy' of your potential customers has to do with time.
Yes, you read that right.
You might be a food outlet or a restaurant chain, even. But if your digital marketing agency is not up and running in the wee hours to come up with 'late night binge' discounts to make yourself irresistible in the eyes of your prospective customers, you are surely letting a sizeable chunk of revenue you could have bagged go down the drain.
So there will be two things you and your digital marketing agency will have to engage in a fistfight for.
Fixed working hours.
The penalty? Losing out on those golden opportunities to fill up your cash box.
Between digital agency vs freelancer, there is no solid winner.
Change and adaptability are the key driving points for any business to thrive and flourish. What seems ideal today may not fit into your success game of tomorrow.
The same goes for digital agencies vs freelancers.
But there are a few pointers that you can put to use for making the digital agency vs freelancer bout a tad bit quicker and easier.
First thing's first. Results and performance are the ultimate indicators of success and viability. If you are considering hiring a freelancer or digital agency, make sure they have the data indicating their previous track records at your disposal.
Next comes your niche. If your business specializes in beauty and cosmetic products, the digital agency or freelancer you hire should have considerable marketing experience in this field.
Simply put, this makes it all the more possible for you to know if your potential hire can do what it takes to capture your target segment's needs. And generate marketing campaigns and strategies that resonate with the target audience's requirements, specifications, and pain points.
Finally, reviews from previous clients do matter. Portfolios are not the endgame. The missing half is credibility. Now comes the question, how do you double down on that? By previewing actual recommendations the freelancer or digital agency has received from their past clientele.
The glue that holds together all these factors for solving the digital agency vs freelancer tussle comes down to the size and scale of your business.
If you are a startup or a small-sized business tackling with limited budgets and resources to allocate to marketing, hiring freelancers would keep your lean staffing approach intact and offer expertise in a specific area of marketing activity.
For full-fledged corporations that can afford the entire gamut of marketing services and need an all-in-one solution for streamlining their digital marketing efforts, securing the services of a digital agency would be a spot-on choice.