Should you hire a freelance web designer or agency? The question is nearly as old as the web itself. Most businesses can only take on so many employees to handle common business tasks such as accounting, admin and sales. But what happens when you need a website and find that your staff can’t help? You will need to hire a freelancer or web design agency.
Why Hire A Freelancer Or Agency Instead Of Hiring?
Hiring a full-time employee is a huge commitment, it involves a considerable amount of time to train a new employee and just as long for them to adapt to their new work environment and be successful. There are also commitments a business has to adhere to when hiring a new employee such as getting employment insurance and enrolling the employee into a workplace pension scheme.
For small and medium-sized businesses, hiring a web designer as a full-time member of staff will most likely leave the designer twiddling her thumbs all day, as there is simply not enough work for her to do full time.
Alternatively, you can work with a freelancer or agency when you need them. They usually charge an hourly rate or a fixed price per project. Not only that, as experts in their field they will work faster and be all round more efficient than their full-time counterparts.Hiring a freelancer or agency to build your website can save you on hiring, training and payroll costs. Click To Tweet
What Is A Freelancer?
A freelancer is someone who is self-employed and who does not work for a business long term. The majority of web designers started out as freelancers, offering web design services to a number of businesses, with many freelancers expanding their business and becoming large agencies.
There are minimal barriers to entry to become a web designer, which means the quality of freelancers can vary considerably. Many freelancers with no experience start out by offering their services cheaply to win clients and build their portfolio of work, however, the quality of work is often poor. The more experienced freelancers charge more but provide an exceptionally high-quality service.
Advantages Of Working With Freelancers
Fewer Overheads = Lower Prices
Most freelancers prefer to work from home. There is no need for them to have an office if they are the only employee. This makes their overheads much lower than that of an agency, who will have to include the cost of staff and office space into their fees.
One of the main complaints companies have with agencies is that they get passed around a lot, whether that be a different account manager every month or a new member of staff to talk to at each stage of your website design. When working with a freelancer, you will only be in contact with her throughout the whole process.
New business for a freelancer is dependant on the reputation they can maintain. As freelancers largely depend on word of mouth to attract new business, they need to keep up with all the latest web design trends and technologies to satisfy clients. A successful freelancer is someone who keeps himself up to date with the latest trends and also has a steady stream of referred business.
Agencies usually have a process in place to work with clients, this results in the work taking longer than a freelancer as they have to delegate tasks to staff and it takes longer for information to be passed on across their teams. As the freelancer is the sole contact and the only team member, expect work to be completed faster as there is no time wasted passing on information to the relevant staff.
Disadvantages Of Working With Freelancers
Some freelancers take on web design projects while working a full-time job and work on client projects at night or at the weekends. This can be a problem for clients as getting in touch with the freelancer during normal business hours is hard or simply not possible.
A freelancer is great at what they do, whether they are specialist web designers or marketers, they may dabble in other activities but cannot be a specialist in all areas. For example, if you required a local SEO expert at one point and then required a website design, you would have to find another freelancer or agency to do this work.
What Is An Agency?
An agency consists of multiple professionals, who each specialise in a specific job. They work in a team to achieve their client’s goals. Each staff member typically work on a specific part of a project rather than the whole project as a freelancer would.
Advantages Of Working With An Agency
A good agency will have a portfolio showcasing their web design projects and a list of clients. Most agencies have been created by professionals who started out as freelance web designers and have a wealth of experience behind them so you can ensure you are in good hands.
Multiple staff who specialise in different fields open up a lot of opportunities for agencies to create new services to offer new and old clients. This ability to offer more than a few services enables businesses to use the one company for all of their problems.
Agencies have the manpower to work on multiple parts of the project at once. This enables projects to be completed at a faster pace than freelancers, especially if the freelancer can only work nights or weekends.
Disadvantages Of Working With An Agency
Increased overheads result in a much higher cost to hire an agency. For small and even medium-sized businesses, this sometimes is not affordable. Dependent on the agency, some agencies may not work with businesses on smaller budgets.
Agencies have multiple staff and a range of clients. This means that at times it’s sometimes not possible to arrange an appointment on a specific day as there may be meetings, training days or times where staff meet with other clients or new clients. Their meeting times are also restricted to standard business hours. Freelancers have fewer clients and are generally free to take a call or have a meeting during the week, at nights and possibly even the weekend.
Who Should You Choose?
As you can see, freelancers and agencies both have a mix of positive and negatives. The choice of freelancer or agency is dependent on the needs of each business.
If you require only one or two services, would like one person to deal with and that person to be flexible, then we recommend using a freelancer. Freelancers offer everything a small to medium-sized business requires at a competitive rate compared to agencies.
If your business has complex needs and multiple services are required, an agency would be the best fit, unless you don’t mind hiring multiple freelancers for your project. Some agencies and freelancers specialise in particular areas or industries. Make sure you find an agency or freelancer who is the best fit for your business.
Some agencies and freelancers specialise in particular areas or industries. Make sure you find an agency or freelancer who is the best fit for your business.
Aaron Henry says
Agencies always get more clients and their types of clients are also of a very wide nature. Freelancers on the other hand are always in the start of their career, and their less experiences make it difficult to meet with demands of every type of client. That’s why I would favor hiring an agency for web design instead of going for a freelancer.
Claire Brotherton says
Thanks for your comment!
Though I would argue that it’s not always the case that freelancers are at the beginning of their career. Sometimes they’ve worked successfully for other companies and then decide to go solo. I’m thinking of people like Rob Cubbon and Carrie Dils.
Nicola Yap says
Great pros and cons. A full-service marketing agency will obviously have more to offer in terms of SEO, content writing, website management, etc… but it’s not feasible when your budget is small. I also find most freelancers don’t offer a website management retainer; once they’ve completed the final project you’re usually done with the transaction.
Victor Winners says
Very good points here.
At the end of the day, it all depends on what a client really wants. So factors like flexibility and budget will also have a huge role to play when deciding wether to choose a freelancer or web agency.
Also most small and medium businesses with flexible budget will most likely patronize Freelancers, compared to bigger businesses and organizations.
As a freelance front-end developer I found some of the tips very useful.