We often receive inquiries from clients in various fields with a wide range of tasks. Some may require a programmer, others a designer, and some may need a copywriter, and so on. However, during the conversation, it becomes apparent that not all clients understand the difference between an agency and a freelancer. Today, we have decided to draw a line and answer the main question: “Whom should you work with?”
If you’re considering whom to hire — a freelancer or an agency, then read this article to discover all the pros and cons. We will objectively present both sides, discuss all the nuances of working with each, and show you where you face the least risk and where you gain the greatest benefits.
While this is not always the case, there is a significant risk that a freelancer may work on your project as a side job, meaning in the evenings or during their free time after their primary work. This implies that the hired specialist will get tired after an 8-hour workday, and their productivity may decrease during nights and weekends.
If you have a simple task that requires minimal effort and skills, such a collaboration format may suit you. However, if your project requires a creative approach, out-of-the-box thinking, solving complex problems, or extended development, consider what outcome a half-time specialist can deliver.
As an alternative, if the freelancer has no other work besides your project, it can be a good collaboration option. However, risks should still be considered, including situations where the hired specialist disappears and stops responding to calls. Even if you remove the project from one freelancer and hand it over to another, it will still impact deadlines, nerves, and, of course, finances.
The biggest advantage of working with a freelancer is that they can work during non-business hours, such as nights or weekends. This is beneficial if you have an urgent task that needs to be completed as soon as possible or if you work on international projects in non-standard time zones.
Unlike freelancers, agencies have resources and employees to plan and replace workforce with minimal risk to the project and adherence to strict deadlines. Many agencies follow a strict 8-hour schedule. This can be both beneficial and disadvantageous. The downside is that if you require work after 6:00 PM or 9:00 PM, a designated programmer will only be able to deliver results the next day. Some agencies accept orders after the official workday but charge a higher rate, usually 1.5 or 2 times the regular rate.
For instance, if you work with Namba Media, you will be assigned a dedicated project manager who will oversee your project and coordinate other specialists as needed, such as programmers, designers, SEO specialists, and more. The project manager establishes the workflow, supports the work progress, and ensures the team meets weekly tasks and follows the monthly report. We provide our clients with a detailed project roadmap before commencing work.
If a programmer falls ill, we swiftly replace them with another specialist. Task handover occurs smoothly and quickly because our company has standardized and pre-agreed approaches to forming workflows and creating project specifications. We utilize task managers that are familiar to all team members, so any changes in the workflow, addition, or replacement of team members are a fast and seamless process. In 99% of cases, the client won’t even notice when this happens because the project continues on schedule and is completed on time.
If you work with a freelancer, be prepared to spend a significant amount of time testing and verifying the work yourself. This is especially true for programming, SEO, and advertising campaigns. While good specialists can do an excellent job, no one is immune to human error, classic bugs, or elementary mistakes. For example, not every developer will thoroughly check their code, especially when it comes to mobile app development and the need to test the application on a wide range of devices. There are also unscrupulous freelancers whose main goal is to finish the job and get paid as quickly as possible.
Significant advantages when it comes to quality assurance include: analysis of advertising campaigns, analytics, professional software testing by a dedicated department, text editing in the editorial department, and access to a wide range of testing devices.
Testing and quality assurance in agencies are well-thought-out and fundamental parts of the project workflow. While the project manager determines the scope of work and major project milestones, the quality control department starts developing possible test cases and scenarios.
All this work undoubtedly adds additional time and costs to the overall budget but significantly minimizes the risks associated with post-launch errors.
One specialist can rely only on themselves. We are nothing more than the sum of our experience, so when you hire a freelancer, you are purchasing their knowledge and expertise, but only theirs. You might think that in this day and age, with the help of Google and Yandex, any problem can be solved. But consider how much time a specialist might spend trying to solve a problem when they get stuck. Especially when it comes to programming-related challenges.
Another problem is the scalability of the project. Let’s say you approached a freelancer to create a website, and then you decided to expand it into a mobile application. This programmer can no longer assist you because they don’t know the specific programming language you require. Now you need to find a second specialist who is proficient in Objective-C for iOS and another developer who understands Java for Android. Another example is when you need to optimize your website for search engines like Google or Yandex, and you approach an SEO specialist. However, they tell you that your website needs to be redesigned because it was initially built incorrectly and is not suitable for SEO purposes. Now, in addition to SEO, you also need to find a programmer.
In general, this list can go on and on. In the end, you may end up with a scattered team of freelancers who have never interacted with each other or assigned tasks to one another. It would be fortunate if they quickly establish a workflow, allocate roles, and start working smoothly. However, if there is no project manager or coordinator who understands all aspects of the project, the specialists may delay deadlines or, worse, start conflicting with each other and derail the entire project. If you have a large task and a significant project, wouldn’t it be easier and less risky to go to one place and get all the specialists you need at once?
In most agencies, teamwork is fostered. Each team consists of a team leader, a marketer, a project manager, and specialized professionals. They all learn from each other and assist one another in their work. When a problem arises for one team member, others come together and brainstorm for a collaborative solution. The role of the director partially involves accumulating the collective experience of the entire company, setting the tone for the entire workflow, and ensuring that everyone fulfills their tasks.
In an agency, you will find a wide range of specialists to address your tasks, including graphic designers, marketers, programmers, targeting specialists, contextual advertising specialists, copywriters, SEO specialists, SMM specialists, and many others. Each employee has accumulated different experiences that they gain with each new project. They have developed a diverse set of skills and abilities that can be helpful in various situations.
The effectiveness of an agency is also reflected in numbers. Just compare how many projects a freelancer can handle in a year versus how many an agency can handle.
Another aspect is scalability. Not every freelancer is willing to take on a large-scale project, and not every client is willing to entrust such projects to a freelancer. As a result, how can freelancers elevate their level of expertise? They may only undertake small assignments that people are comfortable assigning to them. The situation changes only when freelancers join an agency and work on significant tasks as part of a team.
The price of work is simple when it comes to freelancers. You pay for the time and the scope of work of the freelancer at the rate they set themselves. Freelancer services are generally more affordable because they work alone, from home, and may be able to avoid certain taxes or operate under a patent or contract. If you are paying based on the actual scope or an hourly rate, be prepared to pay extra for revisions or additional work. Some freelancers charge additional fees for these if they were not explicitly included in the contract.
In a marketing agency, it’s evident that you will pay more. Significantly more. Besides the increased reliability and quality, agencies have much higher overhead costs that need to be covered.
In the end, you get what you pay for. We all want to pay almost nothing and get the whole world in return. That rarely works. Years of experience show that working with agencies largely minimizes many risks associated with large projects and complex tasks. In any case, the choice is yours.