Content Marketing Strategy 2019 | Is It Better To Hire An Agency Or A Freelance?
Content marketing is back on the driving seat. Many businesses have in-house teams but many others look towards outsourcing for their content marketing needs to a content marketing agency or freelancers. How to decide? Your questions answered.
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"Doing business without marketing is like winking at a girl in the dark. you know what you are doing, but nobody else does."
Steuart Henderson Britt
Technology is everywhere and we cannot neglect it. The Internet has made sharing of information about almost everything, instant. Brands, products and businesses included.
Where would a business be and how far can it go, without an effective digital marketing strategy? Probably nowhere.
Every business needs effective digital marketing in this age.
Consider an organic farm producing organic milk products, in the middle of nowhere.
No matter how awesome their product is, they won't have sales without marketing.
No one will ever be able to try their product if they no one knows the business and product exists.
And most effective of all types of digital marketing is content marketing.
"Content plays a major role now in helping customers understand more about the product, and those businesses which facilitate the process and help the customer journey, stand out"
A Case For Content Marketing
To execute an effective content marketing strategy that your business needs, you basically have three options:
- Do it yourself (DIY)
- Hire a content marketing agency
- Hire a Freelancer
In this article, we will compare option two and three to make it easier for you to decide when choosing between a content marketing agency or a freelance content marketer, but first:
What Is A Content Marketing Agency?
A content marketing agency helps to create content in various forms for marketing purposes, for a business, such as:
- Written: Informative articles, blogs, reports, news articles and guides, etc.
- Multimedia: Videos, podcasts and infographics etc
- Interactive: Polls, quizzes and online competitions, etc.
The content is relevant to the audience of the business and it strives to serve the user intent in ways like:
- Providing answers to questions.
- Providing how-to guides.
- Providing learning material to educate.
- Provide information to help the customer decide.
- Analysis and feedback about products and services.
Who Is A Freelance Content Marketer?
A content marketer is a one-man team who can take on, one or all of the content marketing tasks to fulfil content marketing needs for a business.
"A content marketer is responsible for the planning, creating, and sharing of valuable content to attract and convert prospects into customers, and customers into repeat buyers. The type of content the content marketer shares depends upon what he sells. In other words, he educates people so that they know, like, and trust him enough to do business with him."
A working definition of “content marketer” | Copyblogger
Quality Assurance | Agency Vs Freelance
With an agency, you have an entire team of highly skilled and creative professionals who have the training, quality standards, quality guidelines and experience of lots of completed projects under their belt.
Most agencies have a strict internal quality control mechanism in place for best results.
An agency will probably understand competition and quality standards well and probably more in many cases than you do, having been executed many projects before.
An agency might take a little while to grasp your niche but when they are on it, quality is ensured.
A freelancer, on the other hand, can do the job pretty well. If you are hiring them for a specific job like content writing or social media account management, they probably will be able to ensure quality for that specific task they are hired for.
A freelancer may not necessarily understand your niche that well as compared to an agency which has several professionals to choose from, with niche wise experience.
This doesn't mean freelancers are not competitive. Many freelances thrive because of certain skills like expert research skills or awesome writing style or expertise with search engine optimized (SEO) for content creation.
Analysis and Planning | Agency Vs Freelance
An agency is a team.
An agency, like any other business, has a well-organised structure, departments and skillset which makes it better equipped to analyse the marketing needs of their clients.
It is easy for an agency to evaluate your competition and figure out what will work and what won't from existing tested strategies or they can formalise a new strategy to tailor your needs.
Previous experience comes in hand and an agency can even advise you about something you might be overlooking or weighing less in terms of marketing options and potentials.
For example, if you are a plastic surgery clinic and provide 3 types of services.
- Nose Lift
- Breast implant
Your main revenue is generated through the first two types of services and the third type only adds a bit to the revenue stream.
An agency might figure out that there is a high volume of online search for the third type of service you re already offering and you can bring in more customers by education and advising them, using content marketing.
A freelancer may not be able to carry out extensive research to evaluate competition and formalise a strategy if your business is medium or large.
A freelancer can work on your campaigns in subparts or if you can provide a clear direction, they can execute it on your behalf on a limited scale.
Delivery Timelines | Agency Vs Freelance
For agencies, delivery deadlines are crucial for their reputation.
Agencies are teams with numerous resources on their disposal and can also acquire further resources to meet demand if needed.
Agencies can suit businesses of all shapes and sizes. Whatever the project may be, they always have an infrastructure in place to execute it and on agreed timelines.
Normally, an agency will offer a proposal and deliverables and get into a contract with a business. Agencies report periodically at set time frames on not only deliverable but goals and performances as well for the tasks completed.
Agencies can provide uninterrupted services if you are looking for a solid content marketing strategy.
A freelancer can also provide assurance and support and many abide by the time frames agreed but in most cases, it depends upon individuals capabilities, workload and personal ethos.
The best approach would be to test a freelancer on trial bases initially before awarding them a larger contract.
You should also spend a reasonable time to review a freelancer's track record and feedback from other outsourcers, before assigning work.
Workload Management | Agency Vs Freelance
As an agency has numerous resources on their disposal so workload management is normally not an issue for them.
When your marketing needs grow with time, an agency will be able to manage well because they already have compatible teams in place for the type and size of projects.
With an agency, you also don't have to worry about someone going on leave or being unavailable due to health reasons. There is always someone who can take over so things can run smooth.
This is different in case of a freelancer. A freelancer can manage small to medium projects but when the task list grows, it can be difficult for them to catch up.
Remember, a freelancer is a one-man team. No matter how experienced or skilled they are, there are limits to the amount of work, one can handle. Eventually, they'd be outsourcing your task list further down the pool to meet the deadlines.
Flexibility Issues | Agency Vs Freelance
You might need to scale up or scale down your content marketing efforts depending on your circumstances or other factors like:
- Seasonal marketing
- New product launch etc
Any significant amount of changes can be accommodated when an agency is providing services. They can tailor their services to your changing needs, without interruption.
Be it more work in relatively short time, added tasks list or anything, agencies can handle.
So, agencies always have an agile approach and are likely to adapt when it comes to changes in requirements, timelines or deliverables.
Freelancers would normally stick to uniform, constant work pattern and any unannounced changes or fluctuation are very difficult to handle.
A change in requirements not only need adjustment in terms of deliverable and time frames but also renewed analysis and re-planning is required.
All that adds up and it might become difficult to manage for an individual.
Outsourcing Costs | Agency Vs Freelance
It might seem that outsourcing content marketing can be costly but that is not the fact.
Getting an agency to manage content marketing on your behalf can be more cost-effective.
Surely, small or experimental content marketing strategies can be accomplished with fewer resources.
On the other hand, in-depth and long-term strategies take much longer to develop and execute.
Half-baked and underresourced strategies can surely underperform and could have a heavy strain on your budget and resources.
In terms of costs, when using an agency, following are some of the advantages you need to remember.
- No hiring or training costs.
- No costs to access specialized skills and knowledge
- No cost for equipment
- No costs for licencing
- No cost for office space
"Although nearly one-third of brands have $500,000 or more to spend on content marketing, not every company has money to burn. Content marketing outsourcing can be the more cost-effective choice. You can set your budget, then look for agencies ."
Content Marketing Outsourcing | IZEA
Another important cost-saving advantage can be achieved by bundling all your content marketing requirements together and getting a huge discount from your agency.
When hiring a freelancer, costs can be even lower for individual tasks.
For small, well-defined task or project, a freelancer can provide better quotes because business expenses for a freelancer are pretty much lower as compared to an agency.
Most freelancers work from a home office, removing the need to rent out workspace, workplace bills and other running costs.
These savings will reflect in quotations as freelancers can easily pass on these savings to clients.
Reporting | Agency Vs Freelance
Reporting is crucial for any content marketing campaign.
Agencies normally have well-defined systems in place for periodic reviews and reporting.
These reviews are very important as these provide insight into what works and what doesn't and how things can be improved further for even better results.
As an agency will provide regular analytics reports to clients on all of tasks, project and marketing campaigns, this can give clients, peace of mind and can help clients understand exactly what they have achieved for their investment.
Freelancers can provide reports as well using the same tools and reporting software but these reports might not be very much in detail.
Analysis and review also might be brief, compared to an agency as detailed reporting requires extra resources and extra time to generate.
Variety Of Services | Agency Vs Freelance
An agency is a team of professionals with the varied skill set, expertise and experience. Content marketing involves a lot of tasks and subtasks and an agency can do it all for you.
Content marketing is not only about producing content. It involves a lot of skills, standards, processes to make that content work, before and after production, like:
- On-Site SEO
- Off-Site SEO
- Content Strategy
- Google Quality Guidelines
- Competitor analysis
- Content Publishing and Distribution
- Analysis and reporting
Outsourcing content marketing to an agency can help you make use of all skills and experience, available under one roof.
This can be a better approach if you want to focus on your core business activities.
You can save time by looking at one place to communicate, discuss and assign, all your marketing needs.
With a freelancer, you will have to hire several professionals to execute the different tasks of your strategy, which will need more time to communicate.
Cost as a whole can be higher because you cannot secure a discount as a bundle.
Conclusion | Should You Outsource To An agency Or A Freelancer?
To answer this question, you need to assess first:
- Your business size
- Your content marketing needs
- Your knowledge about content marketing
- Your competition
- Your goals
- Your prefered approach to outsourcing
If you just starting with content marketing, and your company size is small, and a limited budget, it is better to start small and go for a freelancer. Learn on the way and when you have a grip and understanding, you can always formulate a bigger, long-term content marketing strategy and go with an agency.
If you already have an understanding of content marketing and you want to scale up and take up your competition, go for an agency.
But before you choose one, just remember to look for the following traits.
- What are their quality metrics and guidelines?
- Can they provide a report about competition?
- Do they handle the complete process from research to distribution?
- How well is their reporting?
- Do they offer dedicated support and consultation, before and throughout the contract?
- Do they have any samples of previous work or recommendations?
- Do they offer performance-based contracts or money back guarantee?
Before you leave, we would like you to know, at quoracreative we strive to provide an exceptional content marketing service, following strict Google Quality Guidelines, performance-based pricing, a dedicated content manager at very affordable prices.
Read more About Content Marketing:
About the Author:
Asad Likes anything creative, but mainly, developing web-applications, optmizing websites for search engine algorithms and writing about all stuff creative.
He could be reached at LinkedIn or Twitter. He is also an active contributor at stackovrflow.com