Freelancers vs a Small Agency

By Published On: December 13, 2022

Are you a business owner? Then you understand that there are a million tasks to complete and not enough time in the day.

Hiring Freelancers vs a Small Agency at Adgenix

It can feel like you’re always playing catch-up, which takes away from focusing on other important aspects of your company, such as staying ahead of the competition. Instead of shouldering all the responsibility yourself, lighten the load by outsourcing – but consider carefully, the advantages & disadvantages of whom you are hiring…

In our ‘short article series’, we’ll explore the benefits of outsourcing some of your work to professionals who can help push your business to the next level – and we’ll cover some of the drawbacks too. Scroll down for helpful tips that we hope will help your next planning session.


Introduction

This is a big topic. When researching this to help answer some of the burning questions from peers & people around me, I didn’t realise how little so many people know about how to engage groups for certain jobs let alone Freelancers vs a Small agency, nor how to negotiate a pay, nor how to invoice. And that’s the easy stuff (not).

How to find and recruit the right people is tough. Like really tough. And time consuming. No wonder there are Recruitment Agencies coz this is really quite hard to do for many people on top of your normal activities at work everyday.

So let’s explore some of the pros and cons of hiring Freelancers vs a Small Agency.

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Pros of Hiring Freelancers

As more businesses are onboarding freelancers over full-time employees, there are numerous benefits to consider. Hiring a freelancer can bring a lot of flexibility and expertise to the table, after all they are professionals in their field – you have access to bigger and more specialised talent pools with the potential for high-quality work.

With that being said, one of the key advantages resides in cost savings. You don’t have to worry about buying another office PC with all the subscriptions to software as the freelancer most likely has their own tools & hardware – that’s already a win.

You don’t have all the employee taxes or benefits that come with hiring a full-time employee, like Holiday Pay, Superannuation, Bonuses, Software & Hardware – meaning you can hire talent based on projects at hand and find fresh perspectives for your initiatives and long-term strategies. All these points undeniably add up for companies looking to hire a freelancer – even Small Agencies utilise the freelancer pool – so it’s no wonder why this economy is snowballing right now.

Make no mistake, Freelancers are powered up. They are experts in their respective fields, and are almost always proficient in adjacent related skillsets. For example, I know a freelance photographer who is an awesome videographer and editor too. I also know a few Web Designers who are pretty good at basic scripting languages or at bare minimum know how it works so they can design accordingly.

Parachute a Freelancer in and they hit just the ground running.

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Cons of Hiring Freelancers

There are cons with freelancers, I’m not gonna sugar coat it. They can be transient beings, moving from one project to the next. Where will they be tomorrow or next week? Who knows? Will they be there to provide support for their work or warranty the work if things go bad and need fixing? Or will you get the ‘sorry I’m on another job” reply. Not sure.

When you hire a freelancer, there can be several downsides that should not be overlooked, like these:

Lack of Commitment – if your work is boring or lacks anything good at the end to add to their own folio, Freelancers can just up and leave to something better. It’s so important to have some agreement before you begin so everyone’s clear on what’s being delivered.

Security Issues – very often you’ll let Freelancers into your Companies servers because it’s quick & convenient and you’re driven to get the job done. Even after weeks of working together while trust is built and your shields are down, things can go missing. I once had a Freelancer copy our entire image library from our servers to their external hardrive.

Lack of Supervision – just like normal fulltime staff working remotely, who knows how many hours they’re really doing. Perhaps they’re working on something they’ve never done so they’re doing a quick side course and all those hours are getting billed, to you. Or perhaps diagnosing an issue which takes 5 hours, you’re getting billed for that too. Agreeing on a fixed price for the deliverables will fix this.

Global Payment Limitations & Timezone – the value of a dollar to you might be different to the person in Bulgaria. Or what costs USD$700 might be AUD$1100 tipping the budget over the edge. Add timezone issues to this and waking for a 3am meeting can make the whole venture just not worth it anymore. (Then there’s language + culture + values that add enormous strain to the relationship too)

Without these 3 key items:

  1. Clear deliverables on the project, and within this
  2. clear milestones on the journey there, and
  3. clear commitment from all parties involved in the project,

there are higher chances of poor quality work or even no work received at all.

Not having face to face contact with your freelancer can compromise the security measures put in place for your business’s sensitive data. Since their workload may differ from yours and their working hours may not align with yours, it is difficult to ensure that deadlines are met and that tasks are completed as expected. Lastly, difficulties related to international payments can arise when working with a freelancer based overseas which could result in delays and miscommunications.

Understanding these cons before hiring a freelancer is necessary so that appropriate steps can be taken to prevent any problems. Working with Freelancers does work but it needs to be on the rails.

With this in mind, I choose Freelancers very, very carefully.

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Pros of Hiring a Small Agency

A Small Agency is one of many terms used for a ‘Creative Agency’ that offers a variety of services that fall under the title of ‘Marketing and Advertising’. The services you’ll usually find sitting under a Small Agency will be:

  • Marketing Strategy & Tactics
  • Promotions
  • PR aka Public Relations
  • Concept Design
  • Graphic Design for Print
  • Digital Design
  • Digital Signage
  • Web Development & Programming
  • Application Development
  • Software Development (but rarely)
  • TV & Commercial works
  • Professional Photography
  • Videography
  • Special Effects
  • Some might specialise in Large Scale Event Management

Small Agencies will often spruik themselves as a Full-Service Agency, which means they can take your project from beginning to final execution and perform everything in between.

Small Agencies often have silly names themselves which should distinguish the more creative ones. They often have young/er teams smashing out the work while a few gray hairs run the operations. They are hungry for work and can produce high-quality results by having multiple people in their team covering multiple disciplines.

You can have a more personal relationship with a Small Agency. There is more on the line and they really care about their image and want your project to make them look good too, so they have skin in the game which can bring those sparks you need to make fire.

Streamlined workflow: Small agencies typically have their own systems in place that help streamline the process of getting work done.

They’re experienced: Not only are they familiar with the ins and outs of running a business but they also know how to get things done quickly and efficiently.

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Accountability: Agencies are held accountable for their decisions and actions, making it easier to ensure that tasks are completed on time and according to the desired quality.

Connections: Small agencies typically have connections in the industry which can be beneficial when finding resources or information related to a project.

Accounts: Like above, they usually have supplier accounts everywhere, print-houses, ad-booking systems, paper suppliers, radio Ad spots, TV Ad spots and the list goes on.

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Cons of Hiring a Small Agency

Time concern: Working with an agency can take more time than working with a freelancer because there is often a lot of back and forth that needs to happen. But this probably means the project is too big for just one person.

Cost: Working with an agency may be costlier than hiring a freelancer due to the overhead costs associated with running the business. But remember this is an outgoing so you can always claim back the costs. You’re not paying for 1 person but a small group of brains working on the same thing so the outcome and result should be more sophisticated – shuld be.

People: While they are a strength they are also a weakness, they get sick, take a day off meaning your job can sometimes stall. I’ve personally seen Small Agencies not answer the phone because they just didn’t want to deal with a client when their own studio was out with the flu.

The business: remember they are a business too so they have other clients and projects that can demand their time. Depending on priority and studio scheduling, you might get pushed back from time to time. They’ll push you back if you’re difficult to deal with also.

Communication issues: Working with an agency means that communication and decision-making can take longer as there is usually more than one person involved in the process. Stakeholders to get through, Financing to approve.

Not specialised: Small agencies may not specialize in all areas of service, though say they are. So you may need to hire additional help if you require a specific set of skills that the small agency does not possess. I’ve seen Agencies take all the clients work and farm it out to other small Agencies without telling the client – the client is thinking all their Companies projects are safe & sound at their chosen Small Agency until 6 months later the clients work turns up in someone else folio claiming the client as theirs. The client had never heard of them.

No matter what route you take when it comes to hiring freelancers or small agencies, understanding the pros and cons of both is essential for making an informed decision. With a clear picture of both approaches, you can choose the best option that suits your project’s needs and timeline.

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It’s about capabilities

Small Agencies can be more flexible and agile – a lot quicker than large scale Agencies who are expensive, slow to react and full of bureaucratic policies and procedures that very often inhibit the work getting done on time within an acceptable range of quality.

I’m a huge advocate & supporter of Small Agencies first and then Freelancers.

In fact, large scale Agencies often hire Small Agencies & Freelancers combined to meet client demands. I have personally worked for a number of large scale Ad Agencies as a Freelancer and under my own Small Agency and I can tell you we all hated the experience.

Big Ad Agencies were terrible at paying us on time. Terrible at giving a complete brief. Took all the credit for our ideas and hard work (when theirs sucked) and then blamed us when their ideas didn’t work. Shockingly old-world operation and just plain awful. A complete and total waste of money.

Majority of the Design & Development talent working in a large Agency are young and new to the industry and their roles. When they become experienced and more professional, they inevitably move to Freelancing or build their own Small Agency. Exactly what I did.

This is my personal experience, do what you will with this information.

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Hiring Freelancers vs a Small Agency and final thoughts

When it comes to how to choose between a freelancer and an agency, there are many factors to keep in mind. It all depends on how much time is available, how deep the project’s scope, what kind of experience and resources the parties have, and how intensive your timeline may be.

Freelancers might offer more flexibility and affordability than small agencies with regard to getting a project done quickly. On the other hand, a small agency could offer an extensive network of professionals for more varied expertise, cost certainty, risk management, dedicated account management staff to help you with paperwork and overall quality control over how the task is implemented.

Ultimately, it boils down to how well each party can meet your exact needs. Comparing both options thoroughly can help you decide which one is better for you.

Using an Small Agency to design your business cards is like using a canon to kill a mosquito. Engaging a Freelancer to Bulid your Brand, do your Photography and program your new website followed up with running your launch event is like overloading the Postal Van at Christmas time.

Think: Fit for Purpose.

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Tips

  1. Make ‘everything’ clear – write it up into a contract or at bare minium, an Agreement that you all understand and sign off on together
  2. Not everything has to be quoted or invoiced by the hour, if the project is scoped correctly, you can make a fixed price for the project
  3. Make the deliverables clear, very clear
  4. Create deadlines on these deliverables, with milestones as I feel this has become a lost art recently
  5. Use Project Management Tools like Trello or Clickup
  6. Keep an open Comm Line, we use Slack
  7. So you know files are being received, use Dropbox to send and track them
  8. Another way to lock this down is use your own NAS Server like Synology
  9. Do frequent checkins for work updates – especially anything remote I would perform video checks – takes 5 minutes

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Using our Templates

Alternatively, if you have your own staff or team you could use our design templates and follow some of the training we provide here on the website.

Here at Adgenix – while we don’t have thousands of templates yet, nor do we cover all categories, the Templates we do have are known for the clever ideas already instilled into them. They’re easy to use boasting only 3 layers. They can be changed to any language you need. They have loads of components and you can mix & match with design components from many other places to make your own design.

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Winding Up

It’s going to be important to weigh the pros and cons of hiring Freelancers vs a Small Agency when looking for someone to help you with your Digital Marketing. After reading this short article I hope you have a clearer idea how you can be sure that you are getting quality work from a team that understands your brand and your customers.

Thanks for reading and I hope this short article was helpful.

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Written by : Adgenix

We're the designers at the Template Foundry banging out templates & design assets for your projects. Our goal is to get you working with our templates as quickly as possible and start making better designs for your business today.