It’s a common dilemma many business owners face: My business has a specific one-off project need, and my team doesn’t have the capacity or skillset to complete it. Should I hire a freelancer or an agency?The answer to this question isn’t always clear. Depending on the type of project and the skills you need, hiring a freelancer may be more cost effective, faster, and a better choice overall for your business. However, there are definitely cases when a freelancer will be less likely to deliver the short-term and long-term results you need. In this case, it may make more sense to hire an agency that specializes in this type of work.Still struggling to decide? We’ve pulled together a list of pros and cons for you to consider before you start tapping into your network and browsing freelancer job sites.
Pro #1: Freelancers can provide speed and an extra set of hands.
Let’s say your staff has already built the foundation for a project. In this case, let’s say the project is creating a set of templated images for a holiday countdown campaign on Instagram, and you need a designer. All the pieces are in place from a previous campaign and a process has been documented—now you just need someone to replicate that process and produce the same results.This is a good opportunity to reach out to a freelancer. For more production-related tasks, once your team has established a flow for the project, a freelancer is a great resource for mimicking that flow and getting the work done. You can easily provide them with the assets and guidelines they need. Depending on the freelancer’s availability and workload, he or she may also be able to get the project completed faster than your full-time staff, who have other priorities and distractions.
Pro #2: They can fulfill temporary or fluctuating projects.
Maybe these types of more temporary projects are common for your business. They might be seasonal or quarterly. Assuming you already have a strategy and a process for executing these projects, it probably makes the most sense to hire a freelancer. Many talented freelancers enjoy temporary or seasonal projects because they give them the freedom to take on other clients and projects at the same time.Developing a good relationship with an agency partner doesn’t happen overnight. At Meld, we take the time to get to know your goals, your challenges, your long-term strategy, and your previous efforts. If the project is already expected to be short-lived with a tight timeline, a freelancer is likely your best bet.
Pro #3: They are relatively easy to find.
Sites like Upwork, Fiverr, FlexJobs, and AngelList make it easy to find the right person for a project. These sites allow employers to search for a specific skill, filter candidates by reviews and job success rates, and determine if their rate matches your budget. With Fiverr, you simply search for the type of skill you need (e.g. logo animation), and the site provides a list of freelancers who can help.
Recap of Pros
It can be a good idea to hire a freelancer if you need to quickly turn around a project, especially if you know the project will require some creativity but will ultimately be driven by a formulaic approach you’ve already established.
In what scenarios would it not make sense to hire a freelancer?
Con #1: Your project involves high-level brand and strategy work.
Think back to the project where you needed to create multiple templates for Instagram. But now imagine your company doesn’t have a brand guide to provide a freelancer. How will this person know if the templates they’re creating match your brand colors, your fonts, and your overall brand standards? Or what if you don’t even have brand standards?These types of challenges must be addressed at a broader, more strategic level than you’ll typically reach when hiring a freelancer (unless you find a very rare gem!). An agency partner can help you determine who you are, what audiences you want to reach, and how you can develop brand creative and content to support those goals.
Con #2: You struggle finding quality that matches your brand.
When working with a freelancer, it is possible to screen for quality, but it’s never a guarantee. Even when a freelancer comes to you with glowing recommendations, there’s a chance you’ll encounter a situation where the quality you get isn’t the quality you expected. Or perhaps you felt the request was easy, but the content or design missed the mark for your specific brand. Sometimes this just means the freelancer isn’t a good fit for the project, and that’s okay.A true understanding of your brand personality and your marketing strategy comes with time. A freelancer might not feel committed to your long-standing goals and overarching strategy when they’re working on a project basis. If you find yourself in a constant struggle to find freelancers who can deliver the quality and brand-appropriate deliverables you need, it may be worth looking into an agency—specifically an agency that will get to know your brand, your definition of quality, and put in the extra effort to surpass it every time.
Con #3: You don’t know exactly what you need.
The first step in finding a freelancer is knowing exactly what you’re looking for. It’s not enough to know that you need a designer who can come up with cool designs or a writer who will persuade your audiences with engaging copy. You have to first understand what it is that will make your design ‘cool’ or what will make your content persuasive.A talented freelancer can definitely bring new and original ideas to the table, but they will need some parameters and strategic guidance. If you don’t already have a vision for how you’ll define success in your project, you’ll probably spend more time than necessary going back and forth with your freelancer to figure it out. As this happens, the clock will be ticking and running up your bill.
Recap of Cons
You might want to hold off on hiring a freelancer if you know you’re missing some of the high-level, strategic pieces of the project puzzle your freelancer will need to succeed. You’ll save yourself time and money, and you’ll be more likely to get the quality you need in the end.As you weigh the pros and cons of hiring a freelancer, don’t hesitate to reach out. We know there are cases when it makes more sense to hire a freelancer than an agency, and we’d be happy to guide you down the right path.We’re also available to discuss what a partnership with Meld would look like and how we can help your company tackle some of your biggest marketing challenges.