Who does the best for business - agencies or freelancers?
MarketingProfs specifically discussed the pros and cons of using agencies or freelancers for content creation in “Outsourcing Your Content Creation: Agencies vs. Freelancers”.
So let’s go through the five points the author made and see how they stack up in content creation and how they might relate to other areas such as website design and hosting:
MarketingProfs asks how well freelancers or agencies can integrate with in-house content creation and CMS the business has in place to publish.
This brings up technical skills and resources, and this question can be applied to other areas too, such as managing and supporting websites. We wrote a about the problem of cheap & cheerful (cheerless as it turned out) website hosting after a major hosting catastrophe.
Both agencies and freelance sole operators are capable of errors, although agencies will generally have more resources to manage a crisis. In choosing either option, the priority must be to assess their expertise and resources rigorously.
Then after that...
- Ongoing communications is essential - ensure that the agency or freelancer can be readily available in spite of other work commitments
- If using an agency, be convinced that you will have a personal contact at a high enough level of skill and responsibility to handle your business.
MarketingProfs reflects the general view that freelance content creators will tend to be less expensive, partly because of lower overheads. However, very importantly, he comments: “Price shouldn't be your primary consideration. Buying cheap, low-quality content may actually cost more because of the damage to your brand's reputation or the extra time it takes to make those posts publishable. As they say, you get what you pay for.”
Again, our website hosting article referred to above is a case in point. You do indeed get what you pay for!
The MarketingProfs article also highlights the issue of agency charging methods. “Some agencies will charge a minimum monthly retainer regardless of whether you use their services, and there may be extra fees for planning, strategy, and analytics.” This is a good point, because a strictly ad hoc arrangement means that your business will not achieve the continuous commitment and communication required.
Many agencies are looking for ways to offer the best of both worlds. We believe our Brandboost Value Credits provide an excellent and flexible solution to this issue.
How much time will it take to hire a suitable agency or freelancer and will the desired turnaround time for urgent projects be achieved?
In general, freelancers are thought to have the edge, being easier to change if they don’t come up with the goods and more quick on their feet at dealing with last minute requests.
This is certainly not a hard and fast rule. MarketingProfs advises that: “The best content partner is not necessarily the quick fix. Take the time to identify content creators you'll want to work with again and again, and make sure they understand your brand and its voice.”
That’s good advice, and not only for content creation. Sufficient time always needs to be invested at the beginning of a business relationship to choose the right partner.
But as regards turnaround time, any agency worth its salt should be able to deal with urgent projects rapidly and effectively. They should have the people and resources to do so!
Again, we return to contracts and potential inflexibility where agencies are concerned which “could make it challenging to pivot your content, strategy and approach when needed.” The author continues: “With freelancers, there’s typically no long-term contract, so work may ebb and flow as your needs evolve.”
Actually, agencies should be able to offer at least equal flexibility to freelancers. In fact their ability to draw on a pool of expertise including freelancers provides them with a potential flexibility that a sole operator would find hard to match.
It is unusual for us to make two plugs for one of our services in the same article, but Brandboost Value Credits were specifically designed to deal with peaks and troughs in work requirements, so we make no apology!
5. Breadth of services
What range of skills and services can the content creator provide?
The article now extends its scope from written content to elements such as videos. While freelancers may specialise in certain areas such as blog posts, it states that agencies “might be able to provide a cohesive content plan across many different platforms and formats.”
There are a number of other aspects that could also have been mentioned apart from types of content and channels, such as the opportunities that SEO expertise can contribute.
Breadth of services will invariably be an area in which agencies will score over freelancers and it is also worth bearing in mind that if a freelancer gets deeply involved in another project or goes on holiday then your business is likely to get little or no service at all!
A crucial point that is missing from the MarketingProfs article is the need to find a good match for the scale of your business and its needs.
- An entrepreneur or micro start-up company might benefit from an enthused freelancer who could become an integral part of the team, perhaps moving to a more permanent partnership.
- By the same token, an established business could be better off with an agency of similar size to itself, where its business would be important and gain senior management attention, rather than with a large agency where its client account would be one among many and therefore of limited consequence.
Contact BBI Brandboost on 01494 452600, by email or via the Live Chat function on our website to discover how our team combines top level strategic agency expertise and technical support with the energy and flexibility of the most dynamic freelance operator!
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