What Is The Difference Between An Agency And A Freelancer?


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Author: Marc Hyde
Published: January 9, 2024
Read Time: 10 Minutes

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When you start looking for a website designer and developer, graphic designer, or digital marketing partner, you may quickly realize that you see the terms “agency,” “full stack,” “freelancer,” “full service,” etc., on a company’s websites. Although these terms are used frequently, you might be wondering what they all mean. In this article, I’m going to walk you through the similarities and differences between an agency and a freelancer, what category I (Marc Hyde Creative) fall into, and what type of digital marketer you should work with on your next project.

In a nutshell, what is an agency?

An agency, by and large, is a company or organization that has a centralized office with multiple employees and can handle all digital marketing requests. On an agency staff, you’ll find social media experts, brand developers, project managers, lead personnel, content creators, and c-suite individuals. Agencies are often able to be the complete marketing solution for an organization that needs a website, social media management, Google ads, video, photos, analytics, and email marketing management. No matter the technical problem or need, an agency often has the personnel to make it happen.

In a nutshell, what is a freelancer?

A freelancer, by and large, is an individual with a very particular set of skills. When you need website copy, ad management, design and development, or social media management and you work with a freelancer, more often than not, they may say that they can do it all, but they are only skilled in one or two areas. So if you are looking for many different pieces to a puzzle, a skilled freelancer has outsourcing ability to finish the job, but more often than not, a company will hire multiple freelancers to do multiple digital marketing jobs on the company’s behalf.

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What are the primary differences?

By reading the above descriptions, you can probably see some obvious differences between a freelancer and an agency, but I want to show you the primary differences between the two in a side by side format. Then, I talk about a few of the primary differences.

AgencyFreelancer
Team SizesLarger TeamIndividual
ExpertiseDiverse SkillsetSpecialized in one or two specific areas
LocationOften has a building or storefrontUsually works out of a home office or co-working space
CommunicationProfessional channels using software that you must useDirect communication
Client RelationshipsProfessionalPersonal
CostHigher costs due to higher overhead and profitability marginsLower cost due to low overhead and only taking care of one individual’s salary

Differences in expertise

Although a freelancer may be a decent in all areas but only prominant in one area, it doesn’t mean that a freelancer is completely inept when it comes to having the ability to serve you and your business. Many times, you don’t have the full budget for a full marketing agency and their team create your advertisements and run your campaigns. Sometimes, having a freelancer handle all of your digital marketing needs is helpful, but often times, it is better to hire multiple freelancers to accomplish different marketing tasks. If you go this route, though, you have to manage all of the freelancers, and this shows the beauty of an agency where they have their own project manager who makes sure that every project is finished in a timely manner. So if you want to have a one stop shop, agencies will always outperform the freelancer because of the nature of the beast.

Client Relationship

There’s a misconception out there that says that agencies view their clients as a number and the higher the number, the better care is received. Now, it is a fact that the higher paying clients WILL receive better care because the agency doesn’t want to use a top grade client, but agencies work with people and desire to serve people. Agencies have systems and processes that can serve clients in an amazing way, but clients remain clients. Freelancers tend to have a personalized touch with their clients because it’s all one on one interactions. This being said, if you are a business professional who wants to just get the job done, a freelancer can become an annoyance (if the freelancer can’t transition between friend and client). However you want to be treated, agencies and freelancers will both serve you well, but there’s no doubt that a freelancer has a more personal touch because of the nature of the business.

Cost

When you are wanting a bathroom remodel and you are getting quotes, you will get wild differences between a full scale remodeling company than you will a handyman you found on Facebook. We understand this fact. The same goes when it comes to all things marketing and digital properties. When you receive a quote on a new website from an agency, you may see a wildly different number than you will from a freelancer that is getting started or has a low overhead. When you begin to research the pricing difference, you have to keep this in mind that you will get completely different prices—even between freelancers and agencies themselves, but by in large, if you get a quote from an agency, expect to see a higher number than if you were to reach out to a one freelancer.

What are the primary similarities?

When it comes to the differences between a freelancer and an agency, you can quickly spot out the differences, and many times, these differences cloud over the similarities. When it comes to choosing a digital marketing company for your business, it’s helpful to know how these two groups are similar, too, so that you can make the perfect choice for you.

Creativity

Just because you hire an agency with 10+ employees to work on your marketing campaign doesn’t mean that they have more creative juices than a solo freelancer or even a small agency. Both agencies and freelancers have developed their skillset and creativity to serve you to the best of his or her abilities. And when you think about it, an agency is simply a company that hires freelancers to work under the agency umbrella. So whether or not you hire a freelancer or agency, you can expect to still receive amazing creative services.

Collaboration

The ways that agencies and freelancers communicate with you may be different, but that doesn’t mean that one will collaborate with you better than the other. Generally speaking, both agencies and freelancer will collaborate with you and your business in amazing ways to bring about a great product or result. Just because something is different, doesn’t mean it’s better.

Marketing Trends

Agencies may have folks who entire job is to keep up with marketing and market trends, but freelancers also have a lot more to lose (because if they don’t have work, they don’t eat) so freelancers also keep up with what is happening in the marketing world! Even though the price tag may be different, it doesn’t mean that a freelancer is inept or lacking in their knowledge and ability to play with the big boys. Whether you chose an agency or a freelancer, you don’t have to worry about getting second tier ability. Now, you want to make sure that the individual you choose to work with HAS the ability to succeed, but that’s a different conversation.

Goal Alignment

At the end of the day, an agency or freelancer should be able to ask you “what is a win for this project?” and then create the strategy and game plan to get you that win. Freelancers and agencies both can help you determine a win and help you get there.

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Should you work with an agency or freelancer?

So here’s the big question: who should you choose to work with on your next project? Below, I have a list of questions that you first need to ask yourself before you even begin a conversation with an agency or a freelancer? Based on the content above and how you answer the questions, you may start to have an idea as to what type of digital marketing company you should work with on your next project.

General Questions That You Have To Ask Yourself

  • What is my budget?
  • Am I okay working with different people to get the job accomplished?
  • Do I know what a “win” is for this project?
  • Am I looking for a long-term partner or a one-and-done project?
  • Will my project require multiple facets or is it fairly straight forward?
  • Do I know what needs to be done to complete the project?

Specific Questions You Should Ask During A Discovery Call To Determine If You Should Work With An Agency or A Freelancer

  • Have you worked on similar projects like this in the past?
  • What is your specialty and if the project requires something outside your area of expertise, do you have support to make sure the project is a success?
  • Who will I be working with on the project and what does communication look like between you and clients?
  • Do you provide support after the project is completed?

Is Marc Hyde Creative an agency or freelancer?

So the final question: am I an agency or a freelancer? The answer may shock you but I (Marc Hyde Creative) is both an agency and a freelance company. There truly isn’t a term that encompasses a company that is a freelancer but has agency abilities, so if you were to ask me type of company I am, I would tell you that I am a one person website design and development company.

Why is this the case? Here’s a few reasons:

I am great at what I do, and I tell you what areas of marketing that I do not service.

For example, I design and develop WordPress websites around a strategy to help you reach your goals. I do create logos for companies who need websites, but I don’t do simple one-off logo projects/logo only projects. I also don’t run facebook ads or Google ads as a solo service, but if we need these services as a part of our larger SEO strategy, I have the ability and knowledge to do them! I start with website design and development and search engine optimization and support those services as needed with my other design abilities. 

I have a cheaper cost than most agencies but a higher cost than many freelancers.

Because of the value that I bring to your company, you will find that my quotes my be higher than if you were to hire someone just getting started, someone starting design, or someone who has been in the game for a while but brags about being 100% cost effective. I understand what it takes to create a website and assets to bring your company results and growth, and I charge accordingly.

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I have a network of people to get the project across the finish line. 

For example, if you hire me to do search engine optimization on your website to get found online, I have a team of writers and off page SEO specialists that work alongside me to accomplish your goals. I also utilize virtual assistants to help me with tasks such as monthly reporting for my WordPress Maintenance and Support Plan clients so that you always receive your reports in a timely fashion.

I take pride in the fact of “when you work with me, you work with me.”

Although there may be other cooks in the kitchen to help me make your website project a success, you work with me. I love having a personal touch in the business where you are on a first name basis with your “website guy.” That way, if you have an issue, all you have to do is send me a text or an email, and you know you will be treated with the respect that you deserve. Plus, if you are taking with your connections, you can have pride in saying that your website designer is just a text away, and you know exactly who you are working with, every single time.

Ready To Talk Through Your Next Website Project?

If you’re ready to talk more about your website design, search engine optimization, or other digital marketing project, fill out the contact form below! This is the fast way to get started! I will reach back out via a phone call or email so that we can diagnose the problem and create a game plan to move forward!

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Hi! I'm Marc.


I serve businesses, bloggers, and organizations by way of creating great websites that are able to be found online. Web design is a passion, but serving you is my joy.

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