Agency or Freelancer – Who Should You Work With?
Filed in Advice for Clients
When you’re planning a creative project, It’s always best to leave it to the professionals. The question is, do you choose a team of professionals, or a single professional?
The answer’s obvious, right? Two heads are better than one – surely it’s best to pick an agency, rather than a freelancer?
Actually, it’s more of a close-run thing than you might think…
Jack of all trades versus master of one
It’s important to remember that all agencies and freelancers are different – there are fantastic agencies, flawed agencies, awesome freelancers and atrocious freelancers. You must assess the suitability of anyone you work with on your own terms.
However, some jobs are better completed in the hands of a freelancer – others are more tailored to the talents of an agency. To help you decide, here’s a list of advantages for each option.
(It’s also important to note that some freelancers market themselves as ‘agencies’ – for the purpose of the article, we’re talking about agencies made up of a team of creative experts, working under one roof and being led by a director.)
Why choose an agency?
If you have a larger project in mind, particularly one which requires several different creative and artistic disciplines, an agency might be the better option for you.
- The average agency can offer you a more diverse range of in-house creative services than the average freelancer.
- Larger projects can be put together more quickly, as each team member can work on an individual part of the project simultaneously.
- There’s more infrastructure in place to keep your project going off the rails. If an employee is sick, other employees can take up the slack. If an employee leaves or gets fired, a replacement will be found. If your freelancer is sick, all progress grinds to a halt.
- Agencies can provide a more diverse variety of creative ideas, as team members can ‘bounce’ ideas off each other. Lone wolf freelancers won’t have this creative breeding ground (although they may have a list of creative contacts to help them brainstorm).
- Freelancing offers a low barrier for entry, so finding a freelancer with the chops to provide what you need can be trickier than going with an agency. (Check they have good references before you even consider signing up with them.)
Why choose a freelancer?
If your project is smaller, and requires more specialist knowledge and skills, a freelancer can offer a more affordable solution.
- The average freelancer has fewer overheads to deal with than agencies, so you’re likely to end paying much less. Most work from home, using the equipment they already own and the utilities they’re already paying for.
- Besides possibly outsourcing some tasks to external contractors, a freelancer will be completing your entire project themselves. At the proposal stage, they can communicate their creative vision and the exact costs. During the project, they can tell you the current state of progress on any particular task, in detail. With an agency, each department may be isolated to the progress of the others, and just finding the person you need to speak to can be an uphill struggle.
- If your project needs revisions, most freelancers will be able to provide them more quickly than most agencies – not to mention they’re more open to the prospect of providing them in the first place.
- A freelancer’s portfolio will contain examples of their work, while an agency’s portfolio will contain examples of the team’s work – and the team line-up is likely to have changed over the months and years. New employees may bring different creative ideas and styles than the portfolio depicts.
- For freelancers, it’s absolutely vital that they deliver their best work time after time – their reputation and continued income depends on it. For agency employees (particularly larger organisations), it’s easier to get away with ‘phoning it in’ every now and then.
So who should you pick?
Again, there are no definitive answers to which option you should pick – it all depends on the kind of creative work you need and whether or not the agency or freelancer is a good fit for you and your business. Make sure you research a variety of different creative experts, and eventually you’ll find the one that’s perfect for you.
I am good at managing my schedule, so I can usually get projects booked in without much lead time. Let’s get our heads together and get your project done.