I’d say Happy New Year, but many of you in marketing may not be so happy at the moment. In this post, we dive into what you need to know about freelancers vs agencies.

As the great resignation continues, the talent shortage is real in every industry, not just the friendly confines of our marketing circles. A Chick-Fil-A operator confided to me that his labor costs have more than doubled. But that’s not all: marketing budgets will continue to tighten as Facebook ad costs become more of a pain in the ROAS. Brands addicted to the customer acquisition drug that is paid media at all costs will find ways to accommodate the increased channel attribution inefficiencies by cutting elsewhere. And in many cases, that means outsourcing replacements for any talent that leaves.

Many entrepreneurs, C-level executives, and marketing leaders now find themselves weighing the costs and benefits of hiring freelancers vs agencies to help them reach their growth goals this year. But which direction makes more sense- a freelancer or an agency? There are some questions you need to ask yourself before answering that:

How Good Are You At Hiring And Training- Really? If you find yourself cursing your in-house team (that you hired), you’re likely to struggle at finding, onboarding, and training up great freelancers to extract maximum value there as well. Remember, if you hire a freelancer, they’re essentially reporting to you (or a manager on your team) on a part-time basis, no differently than an employee would. Now that said, some agencies are horrible at hiring and will cause bigger headaches than a freelancer ever could. But the best agencies (cough, Fidelitas, cough) are pretty strong at hiring great people and should have a better time at getting up to speed on your account quickly.

What Can You Really Afford And What Do You Really Need? Great agencies and great freelancers will cost more than mediocre ones, but you knew that already. However, the best freelancers can be more strict with minimum (and maximum) hours per week. If you anticipate your needs to fluctuate on a regular basis, an agency is more likely to be amenable to that structure than a freelancer. But if you have a small need, say 5-10 hours per month, you may not meet a strong agency’s minimums to engage. In that case, it probably makes sense to work with a freelancer vs an agency.

Do You Like Herding Cats? Some marketing leaders are great at managing a full roster of freelancers and/or agencies, while others prefer a single point of contact. Enter the power of the agency with a great Account Manager. The more services/skill sets you need to outsource, the trickier it becomes to coordinate via a roster of freelancers. For example, if an agency employee resigns, that’s the agency’s problem. You should still get your work on time. But if your freelancer takes a vacation or resigns, what’s your plan B? If you elect to go the route of freelancers, make sure your calendar has the bandwidth to help them keep your brand’s plates spinning- and always have a plan B in your back pocket.

Need help getting your 2022 off to a strong start? Let’s talk- just reply to this post to get in touch.