• My Tools
App Development, Thought Leaders

When to Hire a Freelance App Developer vs. App Development Agency

April 12, 2023

by Sydney Wess

Choosing between an app development freelancer and an app development company may seem somewhat arbitrary at first glance, but this decision will dictate many aspects of your collaboration. Think through what's best for your business before committing to one or another too quickly.

Whether your app is for iOS, android, or both, it’s becoming an undisputed fact that mobile apps are central to modern human-computer interaction.

In fact, 70% of media time is on apps for US users. Companies should invest in high-quality mobile app development services to truly connect and appeal to various customers.

This guide will show startup leaders, entrepreneurs, and large companies alike how to integrate mobile app development assets into their current strategy.

What can outsourcing app development do for your business?

  • Native and hybrid mobile app development
  • Bug fixes and QA
  • User experience (UX) design
  • UI design
  • Supplemental web development or software development services
  • Development of new features and functionality over time
  • Ongoing app maintenance

Whether you choose a company or freelancer, follow a thorough vetting process to ensure you have the right know-how to meet your development needs.

Looking for a mobile app development firm to build a quality product? Find the ideal provider on Clutch.

Freelance App Developer

What is a Freelance Developer?

A freelance app developer is an independent contractor who develops software applications and mobile application software. Unlike app or software development companies, they’re a single person and do not have a team of professionals to devote to client projects.

Typically, they focus on building custom apps for companies or individuals and can often be found on freelance platforms. Freelance app developers are typically self-employed, working on a per-project basis instead of being employed full-time by a company.

5 Benefits of Hiring a Freelance App Developer

Consider these game-changer benefits of hiring a freelance app developer instead of an app development company or software development agency:

  1. Cost-Effective
  2. Increased flexibility
  3. Personalized attention
  4. Specialized expertise
  5. Greater control during production

1. Cost-Effective

One of the main benefits of hiring a freelance app developer is the lower cost of their services.

App development companies are known for having to deal with overhead costs. This is because they provide their teammates with salaries, office space, and tech tools to do their jobs. You’ll see this reflected in their pricing and hourly rates.

Freelance developers don’t come with these costs. Because they’re often working alone and from home, you won’t be charged for overhead costs generally associated with companies. This helps freelancers offer lower rates to the clients they work with.

2. Flexibility

Freelance app developers offer a high degree of flexibility regarding scheduling and project scope.

Because freelancers are individuals, not agencies with set hours and processes, they can often perform tasks outside traditional work hours as needed. What’s more is that it’s really easy to coordinate this, as companies collaborate and communicate directly with freelancers themselves.

They can also adapt to changing project requirements or timelines more easily than larger companies with strict protocols or contracts.

3. Personalized Attention

Hiring a freelance app developer allows you to work directly with the developer face-to-face. This can lead to a more personalized and collaborative development process because the developer can learn about your needs directly from you. with the developer gaining a deeper understanding of your business goals and objectives.

App development companies often have multiple layers of project management that distance clients from the developers creating the app. This can make these collaborations feel impersonal and more prone to miscommunication.

4. Specialized Expertise

Freelance app developers often specialize in specific areas of app development, such as UX design, coding, or testing.

Businesses that aren’t looking for full-service app development can lean on freelancers with the specializations desired most. This keeps clients from paying for a broader range of expertise that may not be necessary.

5. Greater Control During Development

Working directly with a freelance app developer gives you greater control over the development process.

You can provide feedback and make real-time changes, allowing for a more iterative and agile approach to development. In contrast, app development companies may have rigid project plans or approval processes that can slow down the development process and limit your control over the final product.

If you're considering outsourcing your app development, it's worth exploring the option of hiring a freelance developer to see if it fits your business.

5 Reasons to Reconsider Hiring Freelancers

While there are many advantages to hiring a freelance app developer, it’s also worth it to think about these potential disadvantages of hiring a freelancer:

  1. Lack of resources
  2. Limited room for team collaboration
  3. Less established reputation
  4. Higher risk
  5. Less structured process

1. Lack of Resources

Freelance app developers may have limited resources compared to app development companies — and this can be a make-or-break sticking point for technical projects.

They may not have access to the same tools, software, or infrastructure as larger companies, which could impact the quality or scalability of the final product.

Additionally, freelance developers may have a smaller network of contacts or vendors for outsourcing specialized tasks, which could impact project timelines or cost.

2. Limited Room for Team Collaboration

Working with a freelance app developer can be a more solitary experience than working with an app development company.

While some developers may have a network of contacts they can tap for specialized tasks, they may not have a team to collaborate with on the project.

This could lead to a less comprehensive approach to development, with fewer perspectives and insights brought to the table.

3. Less Established Reputation

Freelance app developers may not have the same established reputation as app development companies.

They may not have as many client testimonials or case studies to showcase their expertise or track record.

Additionally, assessing the quality of their work may be more challenging since they may not have as much experience in the market or as many references to draw from.

4. Higher Risk

Hiring a freelance app developer can carry a higher risk than working with an established app development company.

Freelance developers may be less financially stable or more prone to changing priorities, which could impact project timelines or deliverables.

There could also be less recourse available in the event of a dispute or disagreement. This puts the quality and scope of your work together more at risk than with would be with a full-fledged app development team.

5. Less Structured Process

Working with a freelance app developer can be a more fluid and flexible experience than working with an app development company. However, this flexibility may come at the expense of a structured and formalized development process.

Freelance developers may not have the same project management or quality assurance processes in place, which could lead to a less predictable or consistent development experience.

App Development Company

What is an Application Development Company?

App development companies are typically development services organizations that employ a team of developers across various specialized roles.

Within a web or mobile app development company exists back-end developers, front-end developers, QA engineers, and projects managers — all operating together in-house.

These companies usually take on complex projects which require the collaboration of multiple in-house departments with different areas of expertise. They also often have longer timelines and handle the entire project from start to finish, including marketing and promotion.

5 Advantages of Hiring an App Development Firm

App development firms are well-structured entities with established workflows and processes. Make sure to think about these benefits app dev companies bring to teams:

  1. Access to a team of experts
  2. Established reputations and track records
  3. Structured and formalized processes
  4. Resources and scalability
  5. Lower risk

1. Access to a Team of Experts

One of the primary advantages of working with an app development company is access to a team of experts.

Unlike a freelance developer, who may work alone or with a small group of collaborators, app development companies have a full team of designers, developers, project managers, and other professionals with diverse skill sets and experience levels.

This means businesses can tap into a broader range of expertise and perspectives, resulting in a more comprehensive and well-rounded final product.

Learn more about the costs of hiring an app development company by reading Clutch's 'App Development Pricing Guide.'

2. Established Reputations and Track Records

App development companies have an established reputation and track record in the industry, which can provide businesses with added confidence and reassurance.

Companies can research an app development company in the following ways:

  • Past work and portfolios
  • Client testimonials and reviews
  • Industry awards

Research into dev companies can be particularly valuable for businesses looking for long-term development partners or projects requiring particular expertise.

3. Structured and Formalized Processes

App development companies often have a more structured and formalized development process than freelance app developers.

This can include a detailed project management methodology, quality assurance testing, and other best practices designed to ensure consistency and quality throughout the development process.

This can result in a more predictable and reliable business development experience, with fewer surprises or unexpected challenges.

4. Resources and Scalability

App development companies typically have access to more resources than freelance app developers, which can translate to greater scalability and more robust development capabilities.

Companies can leverage various software tools, infrastructure, and specialized talent to ensure their project is completed on time, on budget, and to the highest standards.

Plus, app development companies can quickly scale up or down depending on the size and complexity of the project, ensuring that businesses can get the support they need when needed.

5. Lower Risk

Working with an app development company can carry less risk than working with a freelance developer.

Companies are often more financially stable and more likely to have established legal and contractual frameworks, providing businesses with better protection in a dispute or disagreement. This gives clients and firms peace of mind, knowing the engagement won’t crumble during development projects.

Further, app development companies are more likely to have established quality assurance and testing processes, which can help reduce the risk of bugs, errors, and other issues down the line.

5 Drawbacks of App Development Agencies

Not every development project is best for an app development company. Watch out for these disadvantages when considering dev companies:

  1. Higher costs
  2. Less flexibility
  3. More complex communication channels
  4. Less personalized experience
  5. Redundancies in expertise

1. Higher Cost

One of the most significant drawbacks of hiring an app development company is the higher cost than working with a freelance app developer. App development companies have more overhead costs, such as office space, employee salaries, and benefits, which can be reflected in their pricing.

Additionally, companies may charge more for their expertise and reputation in the market. This can make app development companies less accessible for smaller businesses or those working with a tighter budget.

Additional reading, 'How to Create a Budget for App Development [With Template].'

2. Less Flexibility

App development companies may be less flexible than freelance app developers regarding project scope, timelines, and deliverables. Companies may have their own policies and procedures, making negotiating or adjusting project details harder.

Additionally, companies may have multiple projects simultaneously, limiting their availability and responsiveness to specific client needs.

3. More Complex Communication Channels

App development companies often have more complex communication channels than freelance app developers.

With a larger team, more people may be involved in a project, making communication and coordination more challenging.

Additionally, companies may use specialized project management tools or require clients to go through multiple contact points, creating extra layers of complexity and potential miscommunication.

4. Less Personalized Attention

Working with an app development company may result in less personalized attention than a freelance app developer. Companies may have more clients and more projects to juggle, which can mean less individualized attention for each client.

Additionally, companies may have a more rigid development process that can limit the level of customization or collaboration possible during the development phase.

5. Potential for Overlapping Expertise

App development companies may have multiple team members with overlapping expertise, which can result in duplication of effort or inefficiencies in the development process.

While this may bring a greater diversity of thought to the table, redundancies can make projects unnecessarily complex.

A Strong Development Team Makes for Strong Mobile Apps

There are different use cases for freelance developers and app development firm options when starting up a new project. 

Think through your must-haves and collaboration pet peeves before interviewing project candidates. Make sure you're setting up your project for success.

Related Articles More

7 Questions You Should Ask Before Building Desktop Applications