Creating Content: Agency vs. Freelance

April 16, 2012
Creating content: agency vs. freelance

I’ve said before that content is the foundation of a successful marketing strategy. And I’ve harped written extensively about ways to create that content. If you’re unable to do your own writing, I recommend hiring someone to do it for you. There are two ways to go outside your company for content, and we’ll take a look at both now.

Hiring an agency

A content marketing agency is a company that writes content for other companies. They employ a bevy of writers who, depending on the agency, create everything from blog articles to whitepapers, infographics to social media content.

Pros

One-stop shop - Agencies do more than provide writers. Many assist you in identifying target audiences, creating editorial calendars, and coming up with topics; they also present reports on how the content is performing, and can be a great ally when it comes to making decisions about what strategies to try.

Another great thing about hiring an agency is that all the writers are in the same place, and you only need to to communicate with one or two people. In contrast, you may have to individually hire a handful of freelancers who then need to be contacted and managed individually.

Wide subject matter expertise - Because an agency employs many writers, their expertise is going to be more varied; you’re more likely to find a social media expert and a mechanical engineering expert under the same roof. This decreases the amount of time you have to spend searching for individual writers in separate places.

Boost in Google News - Google News likes websites with multiple authors. If you’ve got a handful of writers from an agency posting to your website daily, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Cons

More expensive - All the help an agency provides through strategy, recommendations, planning, and reporting comes at a premium. Be prepared to pay more than you would to a freelancer. Which leads to...

Paying for what you don’t need - Depending on your knowledge of your audience and strategies, you may not need help with strategies and recommendations. Some agencies are willing to accept writing-only jobs, but others may not be able to work with you without including a strategy component in their pricing.

Where to find them

There are lots of articles focused on finding a content marketing agency, and it’s a subject too complex to delve into today. A couple of (very) high-level things to keep in mind:

  • Does the agency have experience writing for your industry?
  • Do they have good strategic planning skills, and can they manage a larger project from start to finish? (Whitepapers and webinars, for example, can take months to plan and execute properly.)
  • Do they keep SEO in mind for every piece of content?
  • How do they measure success? Do they measure it at all?
  • Ask for referrals, and follow up with every one.

For more on finding and choosing a content marketing agency, check out this handy scoring method.

Hiring a freelancer

A freelance writer is an individual who makes part or all of his or her living writing content for others. In contrast to an agency, these writers work for themselves (even if they coordinate their jobs through a website or other entity).

Pros

Simpler hiring process - Hiring a freelancer can be as easy as posting to Twitter and asking for recommendations or applications. It may take a few phone calls, but generally you can hire a freelancer quickly and without much fuss.

Less expensive - Agencies tend to run on a monthly payment model, but freelancers usually charge by the hour or word. If they’re not writing, you don’t pay.

Available in a pinch - It may be that you’re posting content regularly already, but need some help during your busy season (tax time, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, etc.). You can hire a freelance writer to write one article, pay them for their work, and not need to do so again for six months or a year.

Cons

Fewer resources - There will only be so much content you can get from a single freelancer. Depending on their workload, they may be writing content for other companies or organizations, and may not have as much time to dedicate to you as would an agency employee.

Narrower expertise - No matter his or her intelligence, a single person can only know so much. If you need content covering divergent topics, you may need to hire multiple freelancers to write it. This increases the time spent directing and managing multiple people.

Where to find them

Look for a freelance writer as you would any other employee. Depending on your business this may mean:

  • Asking for recommendations on your social media channels
  • Looking for writers on LinkedIn
  • Posting an ad on your website, in your newsletter, or in an industry publication

There are also dozens of reputable websites where freelance writers post profiles, previous work, and make themselves searchable by companies seeking writing services. These places include:

Please note that Digett has never used any of these services, and cannot vouch for the quality of your experience. Do your research and see which sites have a reputation for being the best.

Parting shots

Whether you decide to hire an agency or freelance writer(s), remember that great content is what leads to more website traffic, more qualified leads, and more business.

Choose the options that make the most sense for your customers and your business and you can’t go wrong.

Like that? Read this

[Image: bgottsab

Comments

Hi Amy. Great post. This sums

Hi Amy. Great post. This sums up the choice between Agency and Freelancers clearly and concisely.

Thanks for including Zerys in the list of resources.

When we created Zerys, we recognized that there will always be situations that call for an agency, while other times, it makes sense to use a freelance marketplace system like Zerys.

The way we handled this was to create a "Do It Yourself" platform (Zerys), as well as an Agency Matching service called Zerys Pro.

When a user first comes to the site and wants to get started, the first thing we do is desribe these two options, so they can think about which one makes sense for them. You can see it here: http://www.zerys.com/zerys-for-marketers

For the DIY version, the user sets up their own project, finds the best topics,. creates titles, finds and manages writers, and reviews/edits the completed content... all on their own.

In the end, it comes down to the 3 basics: time, budget, and knowledge. If you're on a budget, and you have the time and some basic know-how, it might make sense to try the DIY route first.

However, that being said, often times we see users staring out with the DIY option, but then realizing they don't have the time or skill, so they switch to Zerys Pro and hire a certified content agency to manage the process for them.

Anyways, thanks again for the great post and mention. Keep up the great work!

Thanks for your comment,

Thanks for your comment, Steve! I like the idea of being able to go to one place and decide which route to take. That way I can use freelancers for me, and hire an agency for a client, and I don't have to jump around between places.

Pingback

[...] Creating Content: Agency vs. Freelance(digett.com) [...]

Pingback

[...] Creating Content: Agency vs. Freelance (digett.com) [...]