Agency VS Freelancer - who should you hire?

Oct 24, 2021   •   4 min read

By Sylvain Reiter
Table of contents

We regularly receive enquiries from potential clients who need help with their digital system, be it a website, or a customer portal or an e-commerce platform. Most of the time, they come to us with a statement like "I'm looking for a web designer to help me rebuild my website".

The challenge with this statement is that the world of digital transformation is covering such a wide range of skills and techniques... it's really hard these days to find a single resource to do it all, who has the skills to do everything.

The unicorn designer / developer! Credit https://github.com/nocama


Obviously, for a small brochure website or simple landing page, a freelancer is usually the most cost-effective solution. Some of the most talented web designers can do both the design and the development and coding of the website.

However, for larger corporate projects that need a full revamp end-to-end, you will need a mix of different skills and expertise from UX and design, frontend, backend, QA testing, DevOps as well as a project manager to synchronise everything and make it happen.

In this video, I want to explore the main differences and risks that you should consider when you are hesitating between hiring an individual freelancer versus a digital agency with a bigger team.

Let's get to it.

Digital Transformation - Should I hire an Agency or Freelancers?

The risks with freelancers

Looking at this "freelancer versus digital agency", I would obviously be a bit biased because I co-run an agency. However, I'm sharing this today because, over the years, I have seen so many clients reaching out to us to take over projects that were going in the wrong direction or turned out to become completely unmanageable. Most of the time, I have to be honest with clients and say: "well, you got what you paid for"! You tried to do it in a cost-effective solution, but it didn't always work.

Identify what you need

If you are involved in a digital transformation project, you first need to identify the skills that you have in-house, in your existing team. If you already have designers or developers, and you're lacking expertise in a very narrow area, i.e. a specific type of user research or technology like ReactJS, adding a freelancer to your internal team, that you can embed in your process and manage day-to-day, will make sense.

Agency or Freelancer?

However, no matter whether you're on the marketing side or in the IT Solutions' team, if you need to launch a new product or revamp your website / customer portal, and if your internal resources are already busy, you will need an agency.

The main drawback will usually be cost obviously, as an agency's rates will sometimes be more than double those of an individual freelancer. But I think the following five reasons mean it's really worth it.

1. Reliability

The first one is reliability. An agency won't disappear overnight. When you hire a team, they usually have multiple clients that should keep them in business for several years - if they are doing a good job! Whereas a freelancer may get ill or need to take time off, and then you will get stuck without any resources. On the resourcing side, agencies plan several weeks in advance and they always ensure that there is cover in place and a handover for any team member when they go on holiday for example.

2. Knowledge sharing

The second point is knowledge sharing. An agency of a certain size, let's say 20 to 30 staff and above, will have multiple experts and team leads who would be involved in reviewing the designs or approving the code pull requests. Those agency teams will organize weekly team meetings to share best practices across their projects... that will benefit your own project as well.

3. Specific expertise

The third point is the specific expertise. Most agencies would have individual specialists in multiple areas of digital transformation, from marketing, design, dev QA... From a development perspective, it's almost impossible to find unicorn freelance developers who can master the full stack of frontend, backend and JavaScript. With an agency, you would have access to multiple expert resources throughout the projects, depending on the requirements.

4. Security & Compliance

Fourth is security, accessibility, and performance. The best agencies, like ours, will have a well-documented operational process and accreditations. At Cyber-Duck, we are one of the few UK agencies to be triple ISO-certified for human centered design, quality management and information security management. We also have the Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation and are members of various associations around accessibility and privacy compliance. We bake all of that into every project. It's such robust processes and security credentials that will give you the peace of mind... That's something, an individual freelancer cannot claim.

5. Account Management

The fifth and last point is account management. Whilst the best freelancers can do the job, communicate well and be proactive, in an agency you will benefit from an account management function. You will have a dedicated project manager, as well as an account manager, acting as strategists and making recommendations, as well as handling any issue that needs to be escalated, without distracting the production team doing the work.

So overall, these are the 5 main benefits of hiring an agency over a freelancer.

If you need support for your next digital transformation project, or if you're struggling to manage a project with your existing team, just get in touch. Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on Twitter to keep learning with me and grow your career in digital.

Until next time, stay safe and see you soon.

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