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Digital Marketing: Agency v. Freelancer

Every business owner knows that a strong digital marketing approach is essential in our internet driven world, and there comes a time when every business is asking themselves “How do I update my businesses’ online presence?”. Perhaps a photographer in Tampa, FL needs an online portfolio created, or a cleaning business that is opening in St. Petersburg, FL needs a social media presence established. In each of these instances, one of the first decisions to make is between contracting a freelancer or a digital marketing agency. While both are highly qualified to implement an online marketing strategy, there are major differences between the two.

What is a freelance digital marketing specialist?

A freelance digital marketer is a person that operates as an independent contractor to provide marketing consulting services to a business. They have generally worked or are currently working for a large company and/or have education and certifications in the field of digital marketing and content creation, and are now providing their services in an individual capacity. They essentially run their own business selling themselves and their services; they are responsible for getting clients, delivering client projects and getting repeat freelance business. A digital marketer can manage an array of projects, including social media management, content curation, digital strategy, graphic design and copywriting of promotional products such as flyers and business cards, and web development. 

Freelancing has only continued to gain popularity over recent years. Other freelance roles include virtual assistants, writers, or graphic designers. Recent studies show that 24% of the workforce are utilizing freelancing as their main or supplemental source of income. It’s predicted that within 5 years, over 50% of the workforce will be independent freelancers.

What is a digital marketing agency?

Digital marketing agencies is are groups of professionals, either full-time or independent contractors, who work together to complete marketing activities for their clients. A digital agency may consist of multiple marketers that all work on your project together, or a project’s responsibilities may be divided among individuals by their qualifications; for example, a graphic designer will be responsible for the design portion of your newsletter, but a content writer will write the copy. 

digital marketing agency versus freelance digital marketing specialist Infographc

4 key differences between a digital marketing agency and a freelance content strategist

1. Budget

Since a freelancer doesn’t demand a full-time salary with benefits, and likely has their own pricing model, you have much more control over how much you are willing to spend. Some freelancers price on a per hour basis while others use a per-project or monthly retainer model. However, as a rule of thumb, the level of experience of the freelancer you choose determines the price-point. An expert level digital content producer can charge $200 per hour, or even more in some areas, while an entry level digital marketer starts around $50 an hour. As freelancers work for themselves and are able to choose their projects, they tend to be more productive than an agency employee. While a digital agency may be more expensive, they also adhere to a higher standard for their employees and are more likely to have a lax payment schedule.

2. Personalization of services

A freelancer is able to be much more flexible with your projects than a digital agency; a freelance digital marketer is able to work hours that a digital agency traditionally would not, such as attending weekend or evening events or being available for an emergency. However, you may be charged more for these premium services, depending on the freelancer. When you employ a digital agency, your assigned marketer will only be available during the traditional 9 to 5 business hours. Furthermore, during those business hours you are likely to be competing with other projects for your marketer’s time.

3. Relationship with your brand

Depending on your business, you may prefer a more informal or formal level of interaction between you and your chosen marketer. A digital agency is more structured in their business interactions; they will require a contract for every project, communication will be strictly professional and they will schedule routine meetings to check in on progress. A freelancer, however, will likely be more relaxed in their interactions. Since their interactions are their businesses’ reputation, they will ensure providing excellent service and ensure your needs are always met, but they will be more personal and friendly. Since a digital agency has employees that are not personally accountable to the agency’s reputation, there isn’t as much level of attention to the customer service provided. 

4. Skill level

A freelancer may not be well versed in every single field of digital content creation and strategy, while a digital agency will be composed of multiple marketers who each have their strengths that combine to create a completed project. However, freelancers are generally well-rounded professionals. If they are not actively in a full-time role as well, they generally have worked at a few companies previously to gain experience and knowledge in the industry. Despite this, you might have to employ more than one freelancer to complete a full project, depending on their skills. 

The choice is different for every business!

Deciding between a digital marketing agency and a freelance digital marketer comes down to a range of factors, including the size of your business, your brand, business goals, intentions for your marketing strategy and the scope of the project. If you are interested in working with a freelancer, visit my services page at the button below to learn more about the digital marketing services I offer.

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