Agency VS Freelancer

Marketing Agencies VS Freelancers: A Full Comparison

You don’t have the time to assemble a team of marketers. Or, your in-house marketing team can no longer manage your business demands-it’s time to outsource. All options narrow down to a decision between an agency or a freelancer in digital marketing.

Read more on Agency VS In-House – Which One to Choose?

An independent freelancer has expertise in a particular field or service. They are a one-man institution that relies on their own talent and resources to get the job done. Availability, charges, services, and communication channels differ from freelancer to freelancer. Typically, they don’t pay taxes or sign any contracts.

Agencies that provide digital marketing services are businesses that employ skilled teams. With a much greater workforce covering many fields of expertise, they provide a more extensive service. These services operate under fixed business hours, meaning that their schedule is more rigid.

You should consider three comparing factors in deciding a winner between the agency vs. freelancer debate.

  1. Budget and Value
  2. Turnaround Time
  3. Reliability

Budget and Value

Freelancers are more budget-friendly than agencies. Some businesses who recognize this mistakenly decide that freelancers are more cost-effective than an agency. A closer look tells us this isn’t always the case.

Marketing agencies charge higher than most freelancers do. The average hourly rate of agencies is $150-$200 (source: The WOW Company), whereas freelancers charge anywhere from $5 per hour to the same rate as an agency.

Aside from hourly charges, fixed project rates are also higher for agencies than freelancers. Comparing charges for these services is tricky; there are so many types of agencies and freelancers with just as many payment models. No two statistics can agree on accurate findings.

It’s difficult to determine whether proposals are giving you great value with such great ranges for how an agency or a freelancer might charge you. Ideally, the bids they propose should match the value they offer.

Agencies are an all-in-one resource that can give you the service you need from A to Z. Freelancers are just one individual; there is only so much they can do. You may have to handle some parts of your marketing even with a freelancer on board, whereas an agency can fully take over your digital marketing.

When you pay higher for an agency, it is because they have more resources and combined expertise than one freelancer. Adzooma found that on average a marketing agency will save your business 30 hours a week than if you managed the marketing yourself. That is just a few hours short of one employer’s weekly pay.

Businesses that value agencies more do so because of how much time they save and how much combined expertise they have to cover a complex, demanding project.

If you need just a few things taken care of, then the lower rates of a freelancer carry a lot more value.

With a Freelancer, you don’t pay for any taxes, breaks, insurance, or holidays. You pay for their work only. Agencies charge you while keeping the cost of employees and overhead in mind-so you aren’t paying for high-quality work only. You are paying partially for the bills involved in the space and equipment they would use to do your work and some cost per employee.

Low charging freelancers are a cost-effective solution when you don’t need the expansive services of an entire agency-only a few specific tasks.

Turnaround Time

The most important thing to keep in mind when considering turnaround time is this: freelancers work their own hours. They can complete the task as quickly or as slowly as their own schedule allows them to. An agency works in business hours only.

What does this mean?

An agency will give you a straightforward time frame in which they can complete your work. They work under order and routine with fixed hours. Businesses are informed exactly what time they will work on the project.

Secondly, agencies will not leave out a day of work to make time for other things. Freelancers decide their own schedule so they have complete freedom to put your work aside for other commitments. On the other hand, agencies won’t put in extra hours for your work outside of their schedule. Freelancers can put in more hours or work earlier than they would to meet your deadline because they have greater flexibility in their time.

You can afford the benefit of a doubt if you think a freelancer would chill out too much: according to WorkInMind, freelancers experience more work-related stress than full-time employees. The NHS tells us that overworking and lone working is one of the greatest reasons for work-related stress. We can conclude from the study that freelancers must schedule fewer breaks than employees, so if they are taking some time off as they please, it is probably a good thing.

You also have to consider the time it takes for an agency to process your request and run it through different departments. There is nothing stopping a freelancer from receiving your message at 9 PM, so even if they don’t respond or act right away, they understand your needs and how to get it done for you. Agencies will only receive and review communication during business hours.

There is currently no sound research on agencies vs freelancers’ average turnaround times, which comes to no surprise. Therefore, we cannot conclude whether a freelancer would complete your project quicker or an agency. Each type of marketer is different. Each business’s digital marketing needs are also different. These projects can range anywhere between 10 days and 12 weeks to complete.

If a freelancer doesn’t complete something on time, they don’t suffer direct consequences, but most freelancers do take pride in their work. A study showed that 75% of freelancers wouldn’t trade their self-employed job for anything else (source: DDIY). Likewise, the manager of a team in an agency is there to hold them accountable for any mistakes and lack of tardiness, ensuring that they meet all targets.

Regardless of who you choose, there are still a couple of ways to have more control over the turnaround time:

  • You can pay freelancers more to complete your project quicker. If a freelancer is handling different projects at a time, they will prioritize yours because of the higher pay. They can work outside of business hours. REMEMBER-this only makes sense if paying them more is still cheaper than hiring an agency.
  • Some agencies offer more expensive services at a quicker rate. If you prefer the all-round, tight and fixed schedule of an agency, then select this service.


You may already conclude that agencies are more reliable, and you aren’t completely wrong. There are legal contracts and business reputation in play. This isn’t a side hustle-this is the agency’s full-time income source. Some freelancers are also full-time self employers, but most of them have multiple income streamChoosing agencys.

If you are paying a freelancer hourly, there is no actual way to tell if they spent the entire hour focused on your work or if they churned out some productive output for 15 minutes and then watched an episode of their favorite show. To be fair, the same issue arises with agencies: you don’t know if they spend their hours just on your work. However, managers supervise the teams that fulfill their business goals, which include your targets. Whoever is working on your project is answerable to someone. Freelancers work from home. They might have an office space to optimize their work environment but could be more prone to distractions and procrastination with no one over their shoulder.

This doesn’t mean that a freelancer wouldn’t take your project seriously as you are paying them. Experienced freelancers who have happy client testimonials under their belt obviously wouldn’t want to harm their reputation either. You can decrease the risk of a freelancer disappearing off the face of earth or breaking your trust by using a platform in which you can give them feedback and see what feedback previous clients gave.


Weighing all the factors in mind, there are some solutions that freelancers are ideal for, and others for which a digital marketing agency is a way to go.

When A Freelancer Is Best For You

Smaller businesses or businesses in their early stages can benefit the most from hiring a digital marketing freelancer. If that’s you, it’s unlikely that you have the capital to invest in a full-fledged digital marketing agency to promote and advertise your brand.

Agencies themselves hire freelancers to be a part of their team. You can only do so much on your own, so hiring a small group of freelancers to take care of different marketing channels is an effective and budget-friendly solution. You wouldn’t be the only one-LinkedIn found in a survey that 70% of small businesses hired freelancers. They also found that most of these businesses intended to hire freelancers again in the future.

If you need someone to solve a small or very specific problem, getting a freelancer is also a solution here. This is for businesses that already have a marketing team taking care of most of the stuff. The freelancer would on an additional, short-term task or fill in a position of niche expertise that your team doesn’t have.

A good example is if you have a team managing your blog and handling the SEO, but you need a freelancer to rewrite old articles only. This way, your team doesn’t get sidetracked, and you don’t have to carry the entire cost of another full-time employee. It is also a role that won’t change and has little complexity compared to what you would need an entire team or agency for.

When An Agency Is Best For You

Businesses with higher capital and marketing budget can go for a more thorough solution for your marketing needs. Working with an agency is ideal if you want to replace your current digital marketing team. It also fills the gap of not having one in the first place to cover the channel you want your business to grow in.

Agencies have enough resources and skills to hit high market share targets. That’s why you need the services of a marketing agency to increase your growth or expand your market. They have the capacity to take over a complete channel of marketing. For instance, an agency can manage all your social media channels, leaving none of the responsibilities to you.

Complex projects like social media management or building email funnels are right up to the ally of marketing agencies. If you have growth targets that go through the roof, don’t be afraid of extending your marketing budget because it is worth the value you gain from it.

If you find someone to fulfill your needs which you believe has great value, is reliable and will get your work done on time, then go for it. Instead of the cheapest service, look for the most value. Don’t rush your project and find someone who will spend a reasonable amount of time ensuring the highest productivity with quality output.

Ad World Masters provides a platform for thousands of agencies. You can compare according to services, consumer rating, accomplishments, and budget. If you are looking for an agency, it is a great place to take your search.

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