There are many companies out there who for one of several reasons may not have considered the benefits of using a freelancer to design their new website (or print literature/brochure etc) and tend to opt for hiring an agency to do their work simply because they don’t know any better and will invariably looked up “web design in Bury” on google and approached the first few agencies that come up in their search results.
This is fine for some clients, they may prefer the traditional “comfort” factor they get from hiring a company that has offices and a staff of more than one. However, for many smaller companies, this approach is not always the best way of commissioning work and below is a list of reasons outlining the benefits of considering hiring a freelancer instead of an agency. Some you might already have thought of and told prospective clients when trying to win work, others you may not.
- The cost
Lets kick off with the obvious one everyone will have at one point considered.
The average freelancer doesn’t have anywhere near the overheads of an established agency such as office space (if the freelancer does have an office, it’s likely to be smaller and with no staff) and staff so here is an immediate and tangible saving that you as a client can make.
It’s easy for your project to become one of many when working with an agency.
Many agencies tend to have at least one “flagship” client who demands more of their time and effort than all of the other “smaller” clients and often they’re paying for the priviledge so naturally agencies will always find more time for these clients and perhaps a little less for the smaller jobs which of course are still important, are less important. A general rule of thumb with a lot of freelancers is that they tend to work from project to project or have only a couple of projects active which means a greater level of focus on yours.
- We’re always here
Freelance is tough business, we work irregular hours to compete, often more than the 5 days a week our agency counterparts work and as such you’ve got a much better chance of pushing your project through quickly with a freelancer who may opt to work on it outside of traditional office hours such as weekends or into the night.
This isn’t to say that all freelancers work all the time of course! We’re still human and like free time as much as everyone else.
- Direct chain of communication
If you’ve ever hired an agency in the past you’ll find that usually you’ll deal day to day with an account manager who then passes on your requirements and changes to a designer or developer who implements them then advises your account manager when they’re done.
Freelancers these days have to be experts in a number of disciplines. It’s no use being a great designer who can’t clearly communicate with their clients. Freelancers generally have excellent procedures in place for handling both the client liason aspect of the project as well the actual implementation.
This gives you the confidence that when you’re passing on your requirements for your project that you’re actually passing them directly to the person who will be doing the work!
- You get the expertise you need
Sounds a bit silly when of course you could hire an agency who design websites instead of a freelancer who designs websites but bear in mind that (linked to #1) if you’re hiring a freelancer, you’re only paying for their skills.
If you’re hiring an agency, their rates will be factoring in the cost to them of employing staff who do other things that may not be relevant to your particular project.
- Your project is more important to a freelancer
This may sound like a bold statement but freelancers tend to work from project to project so yours will more often than not be the most important thing they’re working on.
Agencies tend to operate with more clients and prioritise work differently, often based on the size of the client. If your project is competing for attention with a Â£250k website launch there’s a real danger your project may move down the todo list in favour of the big multinational company account who have demanded a launch day for a new promotion at short notice.
Dealing directly with the freelancer who is working on your project often shortens the time to completion of your project.
There’s no chain involved in getting your requirements implemented and changes can be done straight away rather than falling into the inbox of a designer in an agency who may have 20 other jobs their boss has asked them to complete by the end of the day.
- Freelancers have networks too
At this point as a client you may be half convinced about trying the freelance route when it comes to your next project but are perhaps thinking that if you hire an agency, you’re not only hiring someone who specialised purely in web design but a complete solution which gives you access not only to a designer but perhaps also a developer and a copy writer and someone who specialises in search engine optimisation.
This is of course true, by hiring an agency, you’ll get enough resource to complete your project and the cost of the project will reflect this.
However, don’t for a second think that freelancers don’t have great networks of contacts too. We stick together and work together on projects based purely on requirements rather than keeping all these staff on salary.
- We do the work anyway
This may come as a surprise to some clients but I can certainly speak from experience here. That project you’ve just paid an agency £900 a day to complete – well, I did it for you anyway but for much less money.
Agencies often call in freelance/contract talent to work on projects that they don’t want to turn down but don’t have the in-house resource to complete at the time. I’ve worked on a number of projects as a contractor with a wide range of agencies who have effectively collected a pay-cheque at the end of the project and paid me my “share”. Why not consider removing this excess cost from day 1.
- You’re hiring the right person for the job
As I’ve mentioned earlier in this list, your project will have specific requirements. When you’re looking to award the project you may find an agency who specialise in what you need. You might find one who does many of the things you need and can provide the remaining resource (usually a freelancer!) to do the job.
When you look around for a freelancer, you’re going to be able to find someone with an exact skill set to complete your project on time and budget.
Many of the benefits listed above relate to the cost difference between hiring an agency and a freelancer. One of the aims of this list was to try and dispel some of the ideas clients have about freelancers who work for themselves and operate from home offices. I hope some of the pointers give you food for thought when you’re searching for someone to work on your next project and that you see the many benefits of making use of the growing number of freelancers out there who do great work.
If you’re a freelancer (or indeed a prospective client) and you would like to add to this list, please feel free to do so in the comments box below. All suggestions and feedback are welcomed.