Freelancers & Agencies – What’s the Difference?
Upwork and Freelancer dominate the top of the search results when you type in keywords like “blog writing” and “content writers.”
In Q2 of 2016, 37% of companies planned to hire more freelancers, as opposed to 34% intending to hire payroll staff. many companies choose to use freelance platforms to source vendors for blog, website, and lead magnets.
But is there an alternative?
Because freelance content writers are a one-person team, they lack the ability to fulfill bulk orders while maintaining high quality results – for large advertising and PR firms, this can be a huge hurtle in their purchasing system.
Keep reading to review the pros and cons of freelance content writers vs. content agencies. (Or download the PDF and save it for later)
Independent writers are rarely able to support themselves entirely through writing. Instead, they often work additional jobs to help make ends meet.
Because many freelance writers are pulled in different directions, it can be hard to find someone to consistently develop high quality, polished content for multiple clients.
Agencies work with multiple writers (either in-house staff or screened freelancers) to fulfill bulk orders without compromising QC standards. Often, they take more into consideration than just keywords.
A few of the factors content agencies consider while crafting content include:
- Lead magnet opportunities
- Link building opportunities
- Keyword strength
- On-page optimization
By having workflows for writing, editing, and SEO optimization, content agencies can produce quality original content at a competitive price.
Few freelancers have the time, resources, or commitment to make style guides for each domain they write for. As a result, even brand-specific content can come out dry and distant. If you choose to work with freelancers to develop client content, try picking just one or two writers to work with on a continuous basis.
Good content agencies take time to really understand the domains they write for. They’re able to write for each brand’s target audience, region, and niche without sounding inauthentic. Before working with an agency, always ask to see examples of their work.
3) Knowledge of SEO
Some independent writers are excellent at optimizing blog posts, others have a loose grasp of SEO. Choose your writer wisely, and those who plagiarize or keyword stuff.
Content agencies often have a better understanding of SEO than individual freelancers, however it’s also possible that some agencies have more narrow knowledge of internet marketing techniques than others.
4) Bringing it “Full-Circle”
Kristi Hines is a prime example of a professional freelance content writer – she really understands the relationship between marketing and content writing and can create everything from blogs to lead magnets. If you choose to work with a freelancer, we recommend her. (And no, we’re totally not paid to say that 🙂 )
Unfortunately, not all writers are like Kristi. When sourcing writers from freelance platforms, it’s more common to find individuals who specialize in “writing” as opposed to content marketing and SEO.
Because content agencies use a combination of in-house staff and trusted third-party contractors, they’re more equipped to fulfill a variety of content orders. Rather than placing multiple orders from different vendors, marketing agencies can place one order for all of their clients.
5) Pay Cycles
Most freelancers require content to be paid for up-front or immediately upon receipt of the finished content. This process means companies have shorter bill pay cycles, which may affect cash flow. While it’s not a huge obstacle of working with freelancers, it’s something to consider before placing an order.
Content agencies are more equipped to offer 15 and 30 day terms. This change in billing cycles allows for a slower cash burn rate (meaning your company gets to hold onto their cash longer before paying invoices). When it comes to accepting payments, agencies and freelancers accept similar payment methods.
6) Discussing Business
Again, few freelancers support themselves entirely through their writing. As a result, they’re less likely to be available for meetings during business hours. E-mail conversations (or live IM’s in channels like Slack) are often more drawn out as well.
While it can depend on the culture of the agency you work with, most content agencies are much more responsive than the average freelancer found on ODesk or Freelancer.com. Because they are open during business hours, e-mails, phone calls, and other correspondence is responded to much faster.
7) Publishing Skill
There’s no shame in hiring a freelancer to publish and format your content.
Anyone publishing a blog post for a company should have experience using content management systems like WordPress and Joomla!, as well as SEO tools like All in One SEO or Yoast. Finding time to source a freelancer that can offer publishing (with off-page optimization) can be a challenge, but quality freelancers can be found for an affordable price.
Again, content agencies are equipped to publish and optimize your content, and can accommodate most major CMS systems. Depending on the agency you’re working with, ordering content that is written, edited, and published may be more affordable than partnering with a freelancer.
Have you ever paid for a blog, only to open the content and think – “what the hell is this ?!?!”
We feel your pain.
Sometimes, the quality of freelance work simply doesn’t meet your initial expectations. When this happens, revisions need to be made quickly and efficiently. Because freelancers have other obligations, having revisions completed promptly can be difficult.
Different agencies have different priorities; however, most are happy to offer at least one round of revisions free. At Progressive Creativity, we complete all revisions within 24 hours.
As a single individual, freelancers can only take on so much work. When spread between multiple clients, it can be hard for independent content writers to take on multiple projects at one time.
If you’re a marketing firm who orders content in bulk, working with a content agency is likely the best way to place your orders neatly.
Content agencies often have multiple-in house writers or connections with vetted, trustworthy freelancers. Because of this positioning, they’re more suited to fulfill large orders.
Depending on the size of your marketing agency, it may be easier to work with freelancers, a content agency – or a mix of both.
If your firm is on a flexible publishing schedule with lenient style guidelines, working with a freelancer sourced from UpWork or another freelancing platform may be best. However, agencies who need to adhere to strict style guides or place bulk orders each month should consider working with a content agency.
Do you prefer working with freelancers, or content agencies? Let us know in the comments below!
Download a Pros & Cons PDF