When a business decides to redesign their website, or an SME finally comes to their senses and overcomes the “I’ll do it myself stage” they will then face the age-old dilemma: “Do we contract a big expensive web design agency for their reputation, skills and reliability? Or do we go with a freelancer who, although they are much better value for money, we don’t know anything about or could simply not deliver a suitable product? Will the big agency be unresponsive or pedantic about what changes I can make? Or will the freelancer be responsive and flexible? ”.
Lets look at the pros and cons of each:
An agency consists of multiple professionals, who each specialise in a specific job (Graphic designer, programmer, etc.). They work in a team to achieve their client’s goals. Each staff member typically works on a specific part of a project rather than the whole project as a freelancer would.
A good agency will have a portfolio showcasing their web design projects and a list of clients. Most agencies have been created by professionals who started out as freelance web designers, and then went onto grow into an agency when they hired more staff, and so they have a have a wealth of experience behind them, so you can ensure you are in good hands.
Multiple staff who specialise in different fields open up a lot of opportunities for agencies to create new services to offer new and old clients. This ability to offer more than a few services enables businesses to use the one company for all of their problems.
With an agency, you know what your getting. They usually have a building with brick and mortar, and so you don’t need to worry about them disappearing or not being any good.
Increased overheads result in a much higher cost to hire an agency. For small and even medium-sized businesses, this sometimes is not affordable. Dependent on the agency, some agencies may not work with businesses on smaller budgets.
Agencies have multiple staff and a range of clients. This means that at times it’s sometimes not possible to arrange an appointment on a specific day as there may be meetings, training days or times where staff meet with other clients or new clients. Their meeting times are also restricted to standard business hours. Freelancers have fewer clients and are generally free to take a call or have a meeting during the week, at nights and possibly even the weekend.
Freelance Web Designer
A freelancer is someone who is self-employed and who does not work for a business long term. The majority of web designers started out as freelancers, offering web design services to a number of businesses, with many freelancers expanding their business and becoming large agencies.
Fewer Overheads = Lower Prices
Most freelancers prefer to work from home. There is no need for them to have an office if they are the only employee. This makes their overheads much lower than that of an agency, who will have to include the cost of staff and office space into their fees.
One of the main complaints companies have with agencies is that they get passed around a lot, whether that be a different account manager every month or a new member of staff to talk to at each stage of your website design. When working with a freelancer, you will only be in contact with her throughout the whole process.
New business for a freelancer is dependant on the reputation they can maintain. As freelancers largely depend on word of mouth to attract new business, they need to keep up with all the latest web design trends and technologies to satisfy clients. A successful freelancer is someone who keeps himself up to date with the latest trends and also has a steady stream of referred business.
Speed and Dedication
Agencies usually have a process in place to work with clients, this results in the work taking longer than a freelancer as they have to delegate tasks to staff and it takes longer for information to be passed on across their teams. As the freelancer is the sole contact and the only team member, expect work to be completed faster as there is no time wasted passing on information to the relevant staff.
There are some scary stories about how freelancers turned out to be some dodgy person who took the upfront fee and ran, or of freelancers who started projects and then went off to work for a company and left their existing clients high and dry.
A freelancer is great at what they do, whether they are specialist web designers or marketers, they may dabble in other activities but cannot be a specialist in all areas. For example, if you required a local SEO expert at one point and then required a website design, you would have to find another freelancer or agency to do this work.
Who Should You Choose?
As you can see, freelancers and agencies both have a mix of positive and negatives. The choice of freelancer or agency is dependent on the needs of each business.
I may be biased (slightly…), but unless you are a massive enterprise then I believe that, as a freelancer web designer, I can provide the skill and support to bring success to most web projects. And for the projects I can’t? Well I’m not going to you lead you saying otherwise, as doing a great job and building my reputation is what my business is based on!
I am passionate about helping businesses succeed by helping them with their problems. Helping clients and making them happy gives me a buzz, it’s the reason I get out of bed in the morning.
If you are interested in working together, or know someone who might be, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.