When to Hire a Freelance Content Marketer vs. Marketing Agency?
While a well-staffed agency may appear to always be the better choice, a freelancer with experience in your industry is sometimes the wiser choice.
Many small and midsized businesses don’t have the resources to manage content marketing internally, which is why 49% of them outsource some or all their content marketing related workloads. The question then becomes, big established agency, or established freelancer?
While big agency may be the obvious choice, they’re not always the best choice. Here’s why that is.
Most Agencies Don’t Have Specialist Copywriters on Staff
Marketing agencies bring a lot to the table, but great writing isn’t necessarily one of them.
Many digital agencies want to focus on scalable digital marketing services they can offer to as many clients as possible, like pay per click advertising or designing WordPress sites.
Sometimes you’ll see “content marketing” crammed in at the bottom of a sub-menu, but the fact is that content creation is hard and skill intensive, and only the top agencies excel in that area.
Even when working with an agency that’s confident about its copywriting team, you often get what I call, “written for Google” content. In the rush to produce content and get on to the next project, what often gets prioritized by agency copywriter is SEO results, while the nuance of the buyer journey, tone, and style get lost in shuffle.
This is especially true with blog posts. Did I mentioned that I have strict standards for what makes an effective B2B blog writing.
That Situation Worsens with Complex Technical Products and Services That they don’t all have great B2B copywriters on staff isn’t really their fault; there are only so many good writers in the United States and the list narrows considerably when you’re talking about sophisticated or technical B2B products in the IT and technology fields.
How many people can take a dense, technical topic like the zero-trust cybersecurity, high-performance computing chips, or the benefit of full-stack DevOps automation, and turn it into something that’s not just readable, but enjoyable to read? Not a whole lot.
Think I’m bending the truth? Do a quick Google on any trendy search time then venture past the first 2-3 results. You’ll find that even established companies are producing content that is stilted and plain boring to read.
Marketing Agencies Charge a Premium for Quality Marketing Content
When a business with technical products does approach a midsized agency for content creation services, one of the first things that the agency will do is reach out to their network of freelance copywriters (like me) for assistance.
By doing so, they’ve basically hiring the same person that you could have hired, but they’ve added on a 30 - 40% margin on top. That equals a higher cost for you and less budget for other initiatives, it’s as simple as that.
Now you could argue they’ve adding value with with other skillsets, like web design, PPC management, and the like. But each of those skillsets comes with separate person with their own salary and benefits package to pay out, which means that if you’re looking for just content marketing or copywriting services, you’re mostly just helping them pay for that big office space.
Deeper Content Marketing and Industry Specialization
The agency model is built on being able to do as many things in-house as possible. While the one-stop-shop for all the marketing needs a is a solid approach that works for a lot of companies, it’s not a perfect fit for every business.
A freelancer or small team that specializes in just one discipline of marketing — like content marketing, search engine marketing, or social media management — is going to bring a refined set of processes and tools for ensuring the success of that effort.
The Latest Content Marketing Insights What’s working for other companies in your space and what’s not? Are there any campaigns in related fields that you can draw on for inspiration? A dedicated team of content marketers will be able to help you answer that question.
A Specialized Toolset Freelancers and small teams that are highly specialized will bring an intimate familiarity with the latest and greatest tools to do their jobs. Generalist agencies that aren’t skilled in content marketing don’t add that value.
Industry Knowledge Freelancer content marketers are specialized in serving a specific type of customer. That specialization enables them to develop content that is better targeted to your buyer personas and written with just the right dash of industry lingo. You’re not going to get that same attention to detail from a copywriter working on 5 different accounts in 3 different industries.
You Want Faster Response Times and Maximum Adaptability
Midsized agencies have account managers that are managing several accounts. Your contact person at these agencies is often not be a marketer themselves, but a project manager who helps you coordinate with the agency’s SEO specialists, copywriters, marketing strategists, PPC people, designers, etc.
While in some situations that’s a benefit, it can also mean that the agency has a clear sense of how they work best, which may or may not be compatible with how your business wants to work.
Flexible Work Arrangements Get as little support as you need, on-demand, with little fuss. Want someone to handle SEO consulting and keyword research, but let your team handle PCC and social? That kind of arrangement is easier and more efficient with targeted freelance support. And no pressure to upsell.
Integration with Your Company Culture Marketing agencies come with a culture and way of working, whereas a freelancer or super small team of digital marketers is going to be more able to adapt to adapt to the workflows and software that you use and your company culture.
Freelancers Have Their Downsides Too!
There are many situations in which a freelancer or consultant isn’t the best option. Here are some of the shortcomings
Narrow Expertise You’re only going to get so much expertise from a single person or small team. A high degree of specialization means that there are lots of topics that they’re simply not going to be able to help you with, which could mean you’re back out looking for a bigger agency if your goals change.
Limited Capacity For complicated projects, or those that have multiple phases or steps, then an agency with dedicated project managers is likely a better bet. Freelancers simply lack the bandwidth to help you manage a website refresh, handle your copywriting, and refresh your SEO strategy all on a short deadline.
Freelance Requires Input If you want a “set it and forget it” solution, then a freelancer may not be the best fit. Freelancers work offsite from a home office or office sharing space, which means they don’t have the benefit of hearing about how your strategy is unfolding at marketing pow-wows. You’ll need to be them the loop in order to ensure their work remains impactful.
Interested In How a Freelance Content Marketer Can Help Your Software and IT Services Firms?
Is your business looking for a freelance content marketer to help you develop in-depth buyer personas, refresh your content marketing strategy, or enliven your inbound efforts with a huge dose of creativity? That’s what we do! Contact us use the contact form to find out more.