The business world is constantly changing right now and has shifted so much in the past few years to the extent that it’s less necessary than ever before to have a physical office space. It is possible to run a successful business with a pool of talent that is spread across the globe thanks to how the gig economy has altered the way business is done.
The ease of access to remote work, the growing number of freelancers, boutique agencies and project-based employees have opened up previously unfathomable opportunities to businesses worldwide.
At one point you have to start thinking about the right marketing solution for your business. You’ll find yourself wondering whether it’s better to invest in building an in-house team, hiring a marketing agency or hiring freelance talent. The truth is, there are pros and cons to each and ultimately the decision will depend on a few factors that you need to consider.
However, before you make a decision, you need to evaluate the different options you have, what solutions they offer to your business, and what resonates best with your goals and strategies later on.
We evaluated the following factors, with full details below:
The costs are an important factor in this decision. In the long run, it is essential for your company to be profitable. However, the cheapest solution is not always the best.
When you hire an agency, you’ll be paying per individual project or month. Usually, they work on a contract basis and they, without a doubt, cost significantly more than a freelancer but less than in-house employees in the long-run.
Despite the fact that an agency’s hourly rate would be higher than your full-time employee, you won’t be needing to pay for overhead costs, taxes, benefits, or have to deal with any of the other costs associated with full-time teams.
From a number of perspectives, having an in-house marketing team sounds quite attractive. You want to build a strong brand and what better way to do that than by building a “family” that deeply cares about your company, its missions, and goals?
That all sounds great until you have to factor in the costs and the substantial budget that you need for a team dedicated solely to marketing. Recruiting full-time top-tier marketing talents will be hard, not only because they’re not easy to find, but also because you need to be offering very competitive salaries and benefits.
When you’re hiring in-house, you also have to factor in the turnover cost where an employee leaves after you’ve spent time and money training them and paying their salaries and benefits.
Freelancers are certainly the option to go for if you’re looking for a more affordable solution. Freelancers charge less than agencies because they don’t have to deal with overhead costs (compared to agencies and an in-house team) and it will save you money in the long-run because you stretched your resources.
You won’t need to pay for new office space, new equipment, training, onboarding sessions, or even new tools. Most freelancers come equipped with everything you need and are ready to start working as soon as possible.
In addition to figuring out how much money you want to spend on your new marketing solution, you will also have to think about the control and management of the talents that varies depending on your decision.
In the case of an agency, it is quite literally the agency’s job to manage, plan, make objectives, set goals, define standards, take care of the team and expect any possible glitches.
On top of all of that, it would also be their job to provide you with a rapid solution or an alternative in case your project is hindered. You won’t need to be involved at all in the day-to-day tasks and they won’t need any hand-holding.
Another advantage is the fact that agencies also deal with any further maintenance in regards to your project. For example, they will take care of future bug-fixes or any needed updates. You’ll basically be taking the whole hassle of managing any projects or employee off your shoulder.
This is the most tiresome and costly option. Managing a whole team is not easy and it’s definitely not affordable on a tight budget (of time or dollars). It will also require your constant involvement to get things done.
The best thing about freelancers is how much they’re used to flying solo.
Independence is the norm for them, and you won’t need to spend most of your time invested in the project, training them from scratch or overlooking their every move. They would be a great option if you’re not the type of person who wants to be involved in the nooks and crannies of your project and is only focused on good outcomes.
However, freelancers are not managers. If the freelancer gets sick, is met with unexpected circumstances, you won’t really have any control over the fact that your project’s progress might be hindered. That’s why it’s important to only work with reputable and proven freelancers (like the ones Advisable recommends).
They do give you a little bit of both worlds: you don’t get be as uninvolved as you would be with agencies, but you also won’t need to overlook their every move like you would with an in-house team.
Are you willing to invest some time in hiring real marketing experts or do you want a fast and handy but short-term solution? Capabilities and expertise are crucial factors for your decision.
Hiring an agency is great if you’re looking for all types of solutions ready for you to grab at any time. You pay a fixed fee and get exactly what you need but they usually cost a lot more and are more complicated than hiring a team of specialized freelancers with a diverse set of capabilities and expertise. While the agency’s executives are often highly regarded, agencies also tend to attract subpar execution talent, with highly skilled workers tending to prefer to freelance or working in a proper operational role.
Due to technology evolving at full tilt, having all the skills you might need in one place is becoming more and more unlikely. If you’re looking to improve your marketing, for example, it’s better for you to have a PPC specialist, a social media specialist, an SEO specialist….etc, instead of just one marketing team with limited resources.
These days, freelancers come in handy for whatever type of project you have.
Whether you need to hire them by project or by specific tasks – you’re bound to find someone to fit the exact project type you need. With the rise in websites like Advisable, Upwork, and Freelancer, it’s now easier than ever to hire a team of freelancers for half the cost of an agency or full-time employees with specialized skills and expertise.
Freelancers spend their time rotating around different clients, projects, and industries, providing them with valuable insights into different industries, business models and projects.
They’ll probably have worked on similar projects a few times before and you can leverage that depth of experience to your own advantage. Most of them also participate in training courses or modules and are constantly improving themselves to try and stay competitive – which is advantageous to you.
Let’s say you hired a freelancer for a social media job – that probably means that they’ve managed the social media accounts of a number of diverse brands before being hired by you, so they’ll be bringing in innovative strategies from their past experiences.
Quality of work is the most important factor to consider. Collaborating with people who deliver high-quality work is key.
Hiring a professional agency can be expensive, but you also get a good value for your money in terms of quality of results. Agencies usually do everything they can to successfully launch a project and provide quality work every time – even if it comes at a price.
You can also hire a full-time employee who will provide you with great results (after training, onboarding and orientation sessions). The problem, however, is while there might be great employees out there, they might not eventually care too much about submitting incredible results because their work status often does not directly depend on the quality of the projects they submit. They often are unlikely to have the requisite skills that you require for every project due to the ever-evolving marketing landscape.
Freelancers are their own bosses. They run their own businesses, manage their own clients, and strive to turn in their absolute best every single time. Their work directly depends on client reviews and relationships, and to maintain that, they usually go above and beyond to keep the client satisfied with superb results
When you hire a freelancer, you get the best of both worlds: high-quality deliverables, deep industry knowledge, and expertise, along with cheap prices.
Ultimately, quality depends on the trust you end up placing either on an agency, in-house employee or the freelancer. You need to check evaluations of the individual and make sure you pick up quality candidates.
Being flexible in today’s changing world is a huge benefit and can set yourself apart from passive competitors.
Both agencies and in-house employees have the same level of flexibility. In the end, they are both full-time employees with very limited flexibility when it comes to when and how they can work and the skills they have.
Freelancers offer a great level of flexibility. You can hire them per project and let them go when you are no longer in need of their services, and you can always end up rehiring them when you need them again.
Freelancers often work remotely and you can agree with them on when and how they can work. A lot of them work on weekends and after-hours they’re usually available to make quick fixes or updates when needed.
They also feel personally accountable to provide your work on time, always be available for inquiries and keep up an excellent level of communication to make sure they get more work later on.
Completing projects on time is only possible if you can count on your team. Hence, the reliability of your co-workers directly (positively or negatively) affects your project’s success.
Agencies are reliable results-wise. They are usually made up of a team of professionals who are keen on submitting quality work to maintain a relationship with their clients and reap a good reputation.
However, often, they are not reliable time-wise. Again, they have full-time employees meaning you will be wasting a substantial amount of time briefing the agency on what you want, waiting on contracts, creating agreements and depending on employees who work a traditional 9-to-5. It’s not the best option if you’re looking for a time-sensitive task.
In-house employees are reliable time-wise. They will be submitting work on time due to fear of being penalized, but if you don’t already have a team of in-house professionals, then you will be spending a lot of time on searching, hiring, and onboarding them or upskilling your existing workers.
Freelancers offer you a solution that’s right in the middle. They are known to submit high-quality work to keep getting more work in the future as their whole careers depend on the quality of work they submit.
Time-wise, they are also the most reliable. If you set strict deadlines, you won’t be wasting any time at all and can easily get to work in as little as a day. Freelancers are quick at understanding the scope of work given and are also used to instantly diving into work and familiarising themselves with new industries.
They are also used to flying solo, and will always find the best way to submit your work on time by working using their own tactics and proven-to-work processes that they’ve used before. All of this eventually means less time wasted on briefing and more time on execution!
Finding new talents for your marketing team is already enough work. There shouldn’t be any legal problem that might slow down the process or even risk your business. Therefore, it is all the more important to deal with legal security.
Agencies are legal entities. Despite the fact that they offer “stable” cooperation, the process is usually tricky with cumbersome contracts and long commitment.
When you hire a full-time employee, you are fully responsible for all the legal aspects of their employment. You have to pay taxes, benefits, paid leave, health insurance and much more and the legal aspect of hiring a new employee can be laborious and tiresome.
Freelancers are technically “private individuals” and are the easiest when it comes to legal issues. You have no obligation to pay additional taxes, and you don’t have to go through lengthy, difficult contracts. With that being said, a freelancer can easily disappear and you have little legal recourse. That is why you need to make sure to do a thorough background check on the freelancer you’re hiring, hire them through a trusted service and check out their past references from previous clients.
Your employers’ risk is also reduced when you hire a freelancer. You won’t need to pay for unemployment insurance, compensation benefits, paid leave and, if they’re not submitting the quality of work that you need, it’s always easy to terminate the contract.
Would you like to have a direct contact person with whom you can talk at any time or is it enough for you to communicate at the beginning and end of a project? Ease of communication should also be considered when making your choice.
The work process with agencies is usually completely out of your own hands. You give them your brief, and they deliver work on the deadline and then you start to review that work. If the agency is not familiar with either your industry or your brand, then this might waste a lot of time. Also, agencies work on several clients at the same time and communication might usually be slow.
Of course, having a full-time employee provides you with unparalleled ease of communication. They are right in front of you at all times, and you don’t have to go through emails, time zones or phone calls to deliver a message. You will also have much more control over your project.
Freelancers, more often than not, are easy to communicate with. Most of them don’t have a set time to reply to emails and Slack messages (no strict “I only reply from 9-to-5 on weekdays rules), but they can also sometimes disappear (again, this is why it’s so important to ensure you hire freelancers from a reliable source).
Scientific studies prove it. The Motivation of your staff will have an essential impact on their performance and your project’s success.
Both agencies and full-timers have the same level of motivation. They are both full-time employees who are not always pushed by the fact that they need to submit incredible work or else they won’t get more work. They work on multiple projects at the same time, so you won’t find that level of dedication and motivation that you’d probably find elsewhere.
One of the best things about freelancers is the fact that they know how much they need to submit good work and are always motivated to impress you with insights, submissions, and perfect communication so they can get re-hired, or get one good review. In summary: their whole business depends on providing high-quality work.
For projects that require an intimate knowledge of your business, that requires leveraging internal networks or formulating high-level strategy, it goes without saying that an in-house employee is your only point of call, albeit potentially supported by freelancers.
In conclusion, in many cases, freelancers are the best option. They are on a whole different level of eagerness and motivation, and they always strive to outdo themselves so they can keep getting more work. Agency employees are often more like full-time employees who are not worried about losing their job if they’re not “motivated enough” and ending contracts with them is much harder than ending ones with freelancers.
Freelancers are also a better option if you’re on a budget and don’t have time to train or hand-hold. You would be getting someone with an extensive level of experience and a diverse set of skill and you’ll be able to leverage that experience to be more competitive. They’re also much more flexible and you can often agree on times, places, and schedules that you wouldn’t be able to agree on with agencies and full-time employees.
However, there is a time and a place for full-time employees. Things like high-level strategy, and project management or often best handled by full-time employees, even if they are often aided by freelancers.