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When to Hire a Freelance Content Writer vs. Agency

May 4, 2023

by Sydney Wess

Whether you’re a SaaS company, small business owner, or startup, content remains king. But, if you’re already here, you probably already know that.

Freelancers and content writing companies are structured to provide in-house teams with scalable writing solutions. That way, these service providers can supplement existing in-house writers, content strategists, and copywriters in addressing business needs.

What can outsourcing content production do for your business?

  • inbound marketing support
  • increased conversions
  • search engine optimization (SEO) support
  • digital marketing support for wider in-house marketing team
  • editor and strategist skillsets

It’s no secret that content services are core to the elegance and success of marketing programs everywhere, but how do you choose between freelancers and agencies to address your unique goals?

This guide will take business leaders through the benefits and drawbacks of each outsourcing option to ensure businesses approach this decision with confidence.

Looking for a writing team to bring your content strategy to life? Find the best content writing services on Clutch.

freelance content writer benefits compared to content agency benefits

Freelance Writers

What is a Freelance Content Writer?

Freelance content writers are individuals, often self-employed, who provide various written types of content to their clients. While it's possible to hire a freelancer to work full-time hours, freelance writing services are generally very flexible, able to work hours specified by clients.

5 Benefits of Hiring a Freelance Content Writer

In addition to their general writing know-how, consider these advantages of adding a freelance writer to your team:

  1. Cost-effective
  2. Personalized attention
  3. Niche expertise
  4. Quick turnarounds possible
  5. Quality work driven by passion for writing

Cost-Effective Solution

Freelance content writers are often more cost-effective than content marketing agencies. A freelance writer typically charges per project or per word, whereas an agency usually charges a monthly retainer fee.

This means businesses can save money by only paying for the work they need, rather than committing to a long-term contract. For companies targeting one-off work or a quick few content pieces last minute, a freelancer will save precious budget dollars.

Personalized Attention

With a freelance content writer, businesses receive personalized attention and communication.

When businesses hire freelancers, they work directly with the writer themselves. One-on-one interactions such as these ensure that the internal vision for content is captured and executed.

Collaborating directly with freelancers also brings flexibility to the table. It’ll be easier to make changes and adjustments to content if communication and a common understanding of goals are established early.

Expertise in Specific Niches

Freelance content writers often specialize in specific niches or industries.

This means businesses can find a writer with experience and expertise in their particular field.

This can be especially beneficial for businesses requiring technical or specialized content knowledge.

Quick Turnaround

Freelance content writers can often turn around content quickly, as they do not have the same level of administrative tasks and approvals that content marketing agencies may have.

This can be particularly advantageous for businesses with tight deadlines or needing rapid content creation.

Quality Output Driven by Passion

Many freelance content writers are passionate about their craft and take pride in producing high-quality content. Freelancers work for themselves, which means that they’re often deeply connected and passionate about what they do.

With a focus on delivering quality work, businesses can expect to receive content that meets their standards and may even go above and beyond expectations.

5 Disadvantages of Hiring Freelance Content Writers

While freelancers are game-changers in some instances, they’re not for everyone. Watch out for these potential issues resulting from choosing a freelancer instead of an agency:

  1. Limited resources
  2. Inconsistent availability
  3. No comprehensive content strategy
  4. Limited scalability
  5. Lack of brand awareness

Limited Resources

While freelance content writers may have expertise in a particular niche, they may lack the resources and manpower that a content marketing agency can offer.

For instance, agencies may have access to graphic designers, video producers, or social media managers that can enhance the overall quality and impact of the content.

Additionally, they can only take on so many projects. If you have extensive content needs, you may need a larger team to take on your project. 

Inconsistent Availability

Freelance content writers are often independent contractors who may have other clients or projects simultaneously. This can result in inconsistent availability, making relying on them for ongoing content needs challenging.

Of course, when you find a reliable freelancer this isn't an issue. However, it may take time to find a partner who is reliable. 

No Comprehensive Strategy

Freelance content writers may be great at creating individual pieces of content, but they may not have the same level of strategic planning and execution that a content marketing agency can offer.

Agencies can create comprehensive content strategies that align with business goals, target audience, and brand voice, resulting in a more cohesive and effective content marketing plan.

Limited Scalability

As a business grows, its content needs may grow as well. A content marketing agency can easily scale its services to accommodate increased demand, while a freelance content writer may not have the capacity to handle larger volumes of work.

Lack of Brand Awareness

Content marketing agencies often invest time in understanding a business's brand voice and messaging, ensuring that the content is consistent with the brand's identity.

Freelance content writers may not have the same level of understanding, resulting in content that doesn't align with the brand's values or voice.

Content Marketing Agency

What is a Content Marketing Agency?

A content marketing agency is a company that’s structured to assist clients craft, optimize, and share different types of content to promote associated goods or services. Typically, content marketing firms will be comprised of project managers, writing professionals, social media specialists, graphic designers, and audio and video specialists.

5 Advantages of Hiring a Content Marketing Agency

Content marketing firms have a breadth of resources and experience to get complex jobs done. Additionally, they take a bird-eye view of a marketing department and execute big-picture thinking.

  1. Comprehensive services
  2. Access to more resources
  3. Tried-and-true processes
  4. Brand consistency
  5. Quality control

Comprehensive Services

Content marketing agency services have the potential to go well beyond simple content writing jobs. If writing is all you need, freelancers still work, but agencies can extend their work into social media management, SEO, graphic design, and video production.

In a world where marketing assets are becoming routinely repurposed across platforms, there’s an argument for housing all of these activities within a single agency. This makes an agency business partner a one-stop-shop for all content marketing needs, rather than having to manage multiple freelancers for deliverables that don’t work together as well.

Access to More Resources

Content marketing agencies are established entities with plenty more resources than your average freelance content writer.

With cutting-edge tools and processes to match, agencies can accommodate more extensive content needs than freelancers lacking new tech. While these tools are definitely more efficient, agencies may also be able to invest in tech that can improve content quality.

Established Processes

Agencies work with multiple clients, using the same tried-and-true processes and refining them over time to be as strong as possible.

With content marketing agencies, clients often get a personalized content strategy, editorial calendar, and quality control services. With the processes and resources to provide these behind-the-scenes tools, agencies are able to generate cohesive and effective content marketing plans with consistent quality across pieces of content.

Brand Consistency

A content marketing agency is extra valuable for its ability to think big-picture.

One way this is impactful is that agencies can consider branding and content together. Results from thinking about content and brand simultaneously include a more consistent tone of voice, the inclusion of brand messaging in content, and improved adherence to brand guidelines.

This is especially important for businesses that have multiple content creators or a distributed workforce — consistency is key.

Accountability and Quality Control

As established companies, content marketing agencies will generally have quality assurance (QA) measures in place for all their projects.

Agencies have the resources to devote time and human capital to editorial oversight, multiple rounds of revisions, and performance metrics.

By tracking and checking in on quality, project deliverables will be better and more aligned with the goals you initially set out to achieve.

5 Drawbacks of Content Marketing Agency

Not every project is a perfect match for a content marketing agency. Think about these challenges of working with an agency before diving in feet first:

  1. Higher costs
  2. Communication challenges
  3. Limited flexibility
  4. Possibility for impersonal service
  5. Potential for inconsistency

Higher Costs

Content marketing agencies often charge higher rates than freelance content writers, due to their increased resources and overhead costs. This may make it challenging for small businesses or those with limited budgets to afford their services.

Communication Challenges

Content marketing agencies often have multiple team members working on a project, which can make communication more complex. This can result in longer turnaround times or miscommunication, especially if there is a lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities.

Limited Flexibility

Content marketing agencies may have specific processes and procedures that limit content creation or project management flexibility. This can make it challenging for businesses with unique content needs or prefer a more agile approach.

Possibility for Impersonal Service

Content marketing agencies often work with many clients, limiting the level of personalization or customization they can offer. This may result in content that feels generic or doesn't fully align with a business's goals or values.

Potential for Inconsistency

Content marketing agencies may have multiple team members working on a project, which can result in inconsistencies in writing style, tone, or messaging. This can be especially problematic for businesses that value consistency across all pieces of content.

Content Writing Services Shape Content Marketing Strategy

Content writing is an essential element of your branding and overall marketing strategy. While freelancers are great for ad hoc work and tight deadlines, it may be worth establishing a relationship with a content marketing company to keep larger goals at the center of their work.

There’s no universal “right” answer. However, think about the pros and cons of each to ensure you hire the services that are right for your situation.

Make sure you hire the right content writing services on Clutch.

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