Squad or Lone Wolf? Pros and Cons of Agencies and Solo Freelancers
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A question of smart bargains, of getting much for little. ‘Smart’ is the keyword. Would your business need the Avengers? Or should you hire just Iron Man for every task or project?
Aside from cost-cutting, 65% of companies plan to increase outsourcing because of the benefits of hiring a third-party service provider.
The key to being ‘smart’ about your hiring preferences is to know what is best suited for your needs. Premature engagement, whether you outsource to an agency or one contractor, just bleeds money and eats time you could have saved instead.
Leaning toward an outsourcing agency?
Outsourcing tasks to an agency is like having a team of lawyers, not just one. “Big-shot feels.” You’re leaning in the right direction if:
You have a project, not a task. For example, you want to build your social media presence. Hiring an agency, or hiring a skilled virtual assistant affiliated with one, gives you a well-rounded focus: images, videos, text, scheduling, and interaction all handled by a team member who specializes in it.
Yes, ONE freelancer can handle all of that effectively, but a team would deliver it better and faster.
Content or press release campaign. An agency consists of members with different specializations. Content writers can write the content and SEO experts can look for trending keywords to top SERPs. A graphic designer can make the image perfect for the article and a developer can code your website with no wasted time.
Data organization. Many startups become so busy that their data and files pile up on them. They don’t notice until the pile is on a threatening scale. Outsource this to an agency. Bring in a team of skilled virtual assistants to clean up and organize everything, and to maintain order.
Analytics. Every traffic is an opportunity but analytics and data require a lot of time especially if data comes from different social media platforms. You can outsource reporting and analytics and digital advertising to agencies with multiple agents who know the ins and outs of the platforms.
SEO, Digital Advertising, and Marketing. Content Marketing Institute (CMI) believed that 75% of large companies outsource content marketing to agencies with adequate topical expertise.
At USource, we’re adaptable to niche markets. Topical expertise isn’t necessary when industry, audience, and competitor research are all easy and accessible on digital.
Outsource your SEO, SEM, email marketing, and content marketing with progress reports from one management. Social media experts with experience in implementing a successful digital marketing strategy can free up your time to focus on what you need to do.
Fast-paced digital support. Freelancers can also work in great quality given they have ample time to do so. But agencies have the human resources and rigorous quality standards to work on tasks with near deadlines.
Agencies have trained employees that can work immediately under specific goals. They can take mundane and repetitive tasks off your shoulders.
This can be overwhelming for one freelancer–and while many freelancers would rise to the challenge, an agency would systematically tackle it, speedily and thoroughly, missing very little to nothing, despite the sheer amount to wade through.
When a client outsources to an agency, a member handles the job exclusively. The client is always informed first if the member needs the expertise of another in the team.
It’s a win-win situation. Not only does a client have a backup in case their chosen contractor is unable to work, but the client also has a reserve of expertise to be tapped when needed.
Is that an argument in favor of contacting an agency? Yes. If you need it.
Leaning toward just one contractor?
Hiring ONE skilled virtual assistant or go-to expert is like having a doctor on call. “Big-shot feels,” too. You’re leaning in the right direction if:
You have a task rather than a project. For example, email correspondence and newsletter creation/scheduling. In addition, your skilled virtual assistant can also add your Twitter account to their workload. Tweeting is correspondence as well.
Agencies are already less expensive than hiring an in-house employee but freelancers are the most cost-effective of them all. 40% of companies with budget issues prefer to hire freelancers to train and learn about their company’s product and market.
In several cases, there is such a thing as too many cooks spoiling the broth. And for small, repetitive, and routine tasks, especially for startups just going off the ground, not only would ONE skilled virtual assistant do it better, but it would also free your time and focus for bigger things.
Social media management. As opposed to a campaign, managing your social media ensures you’re up-to-date and active. It doesn’t require a team–if anything, you need ONE consistent voice and style in your posts across the board.
Data entry. If you’re in the stage of preventing an avalanche that would later be too much for one person, one freelancer can take care of your spreadsheets and file organization.
Website content. An empty website can be so visually appealing and still be penalized by Google if it doesn’t have unique and valuable content. So hire a writer, but not two or three. As mentioned in social media management, find a skilled virtual assistant who creates/adapts a voice and style for your brand.
Experienced graphic designers always prepare their portfolios for you to check. They have specific styles attached to their name so find someone who speaks with your brand persona.
Customer Support. If you are looking for someone to take on the repetitive jobs for you. General administration, real estate, sales, and accounting are some of the specializations they can provide.
Agency vs Solo Freelancer
- You can train a freelancer, or the freelancer will self-train if they don’t already know the system or platform you prefer as you go.
- Outsourcing to an agency means they can adapt to your preferences, even if they are likely to have established their system. If you don’t want to or don’t have the time, to train, an agency’s established system is a plus.
- You get what you pay for. Hire skilled virtual assistants with feedback on quality.
- You get what you pay for. Outsource to agencies that don’t require a retainer, and whose freelancers have feedback of quality.
- One freelancer can talk to you one minute and start on your job the next. Done. If you need revisions, you talk to them. They take care of the revisions. Done again.
- Outsourcing to an agency might take time before they take you on. We call this the “onboarding huddle.” But note that if your job requires a team, you do get a team, and a team of skilled virtual assistants needs to huddle to become an effective force.
- Hiring a freelancer means you have full control in personally managing your hire in every aspect of the task.
- An agency is built on management that gives you access to progress reports and output that already undergoes quality control.
Range and flexibility
- A talented freelancer with multiple skills is difficult to find. If you hire a freelancer and need an output outside of their skillset, you have to go through another hiring process for every expertise that you need.
- An agency makes sure it has a well-rounded team ready to answer a client’s needs. It will have a writer, graphic artist, social media experts, advertisers, and digital support who you can hire by platform or skills.
Whether you hire one freelancer or a team, outsourcing gives you fast ROI. The important foundation is clarity on what you need, now and in the near future.