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Freelancer or agency: which is best for my project?

Resource
by James Brown Agency Partnership Manager

So, you have a new project. Maybe you’ve designed a website you need building, or perhaps you have planned a series of emails. Now all you need is to decide who to outsource to. The two obvious options are hiring a freelance developer, or going for a white-label agency. Both have their pros and cons… let’s discuss.

Hiring a freelancer

Let’s begin with the benefits of using a freelancer. This usually seems like the easy choice due to the fact you would only need to manage and communicate with one individual, and that the cost to you would, more often than not, be cheaper than using an agency. Another benefit is that they are usually flexible and able to work any time of day to meet your deadline, however this can also work against you in that they don’t tend to operate during standard office hours meaning that you might not sync up which can be inconvenient.

While hiring a freelancer means that you only have to pay for and communicate with one person, it also means that you only get one person’s skill set. Even experts will have limited capabilities in comparison to an agency. In addition to this, you are taking the risk hiring a freelancer because if they become ill or unexpectedly absent, there is no one else to pick up the work or cover for them while they are gone. Even if you manage to hire another freelance to pick up where the first left off, they are unlikely to work in the exact same way and the consistency of the development may be compromised. You could even end up paying the second hire extra to re-do some of the work started by the first. Finally, a freelancer is likely to be juggling multiple projects at once, and there is a chance that they have been ambitious with the amount they take on, resulting in spreading themselves thinly across multiple projects and not having as much time to dedicate each week as you initially expected.

 

Partnering with an agency

The added expense of hiring an agency over a freelancer is probably the only downfall, and even then, the investment is likely to be worth it in the long run. The collective skill sets that you will have access to within an agency is potentially the biggest advantage; multiple minds collaborating can often result in a better-quality end result than relying on a solo-effort. Having a team with a broad range of capabilities who work together and communicate on a daily basis means that multiple tasks can be executed at once to increase efficiency.

As well as varying skill sets, agencies are likely to consist of team members with different levels of experience, all of whom will have been trained to be proficient and familiar with industry practice, translating into a more professional approach. Follow up and aftercare packages are usually available through agencies so that you have the option of having continued support even after the project is completed and handed over, whereas working relationships with freelancers typically end with the handover.

 

The takeaway

Choosing freelance might be a good option for the short term if you have a limited budget, however sites built by freelancers may be done so just for that defined purpose and it may be more difficult to work on and change in the future. With an agency, you usually receive an end product with a more versatile back end that can be continued to be worked on and fine-tuned for long after handover. While an agency might require a greater monetary investment initially, it will pay off in the long run. You are paying for a broader skill set, more experience, consistency and reliability, and an overall better-quality result.

Building a site but not sure which platform to use? Read our handy guide here.