Look at you go! You created a successful business, and up until now, you have been handling communications and marketing. But as your business grows, so does your to-do list. The days of you posting to social media, updating your website, and creating email campaigns have probably fallen to the wayside.

When businesses need help with content and design, the first thing many people wonder is: Is it better to hire a freelancer, an agency, or someone in-house?

What is the difference?

A freelancer is someone outside of your organization who you hire on a contract basis for specific projects.
An agency is a group of skilled experts who you enlist for a single project or put on retainer for ongoing marketing.

An in-house employee is a person who works directly for your company.

So which one is best?

We hate to be “that guy,” but truthfully there is no one-size-fits-all answer. There are pros and cons to each, and YOUR goals will decide what will work best for you. 

But since you did come all this way for an answer, we’ve got the full breakdown below.

You don’t just want help with your marketing—you want skilled help. To put out content that has an impact and gets results, you need experts who know what they are doing.

Freelancer: Skilled in their areas of expertise, freelancers typically focus on one facet of marketing support. This means you will likely receive a good product, but you’ll still be looking for other freelancers to knock out those other pesky marketing tasks you’ve been meaning to delegate. 

Agency: The benefit of an agency is that you typically get an entire team of experts—graphic designers, copywriters, web designers, social media strategists, digital marketers—and you won’t have to assemble the talent yourself. 

In-House: There are definite benefits to creating your own in-house marketing team (background knowledge, familiarity with your voice, immediate communication), but first you must do just that—create a team. It’s kind of like deciding whether you want to build your own car, or pick one off the lot—both will work, but one is probably going to get you where you want to go a little faster.

There is a difference between cheap and cost effective. When it comes to your marketing efforts, you want quality at a reasonable price.

Freelancer: Your most affordable option, freelancers are a great way to save money because you only pay them when you need a certain project and there is no overhead. But keep in mind that you may need more than one freelancer to accomplish all of your goals, and that can add up. 

Agency: Many agencies offer retainers, which mean fixed monthly billing at a reduced hourly rate. Some retainer agreements can be pricey, and the variety of services included under the retainer should be considered against the cost of hiring equivalent overhead or freelancers. 

In-House: When you break it down, a full-time employee tends to be more expensive than an agency or freelancer. It’s not just salary; it’s the benefits, the time spent in meetings, sick days, vacation days, cost of office space, medical leave, bonuses, 401k, onboarding, and ongoing training.

Let’s say you have a cost-effective, skilled team doing your marketing—that doesn’t mean much if you can never get a hold of them or they don’t deliver on time. Working with people who make the process smooth is vital to your success—and mental health.

Freelancer: Reputation is of great importance to freelancers, so they will be motivated to meet your needs. Since most work remotely and sometimes at odd hours, however, you may not be able to contact them when you’d like.

Agency: These types of organizations keep regular business hours and have plans in place for communication. Since most agencies juggle a lot of clients, however, some may not be as prompt as you may like when it comes to turning out your product.

In-House: With instant communication and collaboration, in-house employees can take immediate action when it comes to your deliverables. Timing issues may arise, though, when your employees are gone because of vacation, sickness, or turnover. You might end up cross-training someone else for these instances, or looking for a freelancer or agency to support you when an employee is absent or leaves.

Which direction are you leaning?
Let’s talk through your options and make a plan to take you where you want to go. Book a free 15-minute Discovery Call with TwoTone Creative today!

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