Online Agencies vs. Freelancers vs. Staff – Which is Best?

How to Maintain Your Sanity When Managing Your Online Business.

As a business owner you have 4 options when it comes to managing your online presence:

  1. Hire web and marketing resources in-house.
  2. Hire a variety of specialized freelancers.
  3. Hire a web agency.
  4. Do it yourself.

Let’s eliminate #4 right off the bat. A business owner should be spending time strategizing, networking with clients, and managing the business, not maintaining their online presence.

So, we’re down to 3 options. Let’s dissect them to see which has the most advantages – [Spoiler Alert! Our winner is going to be #3 – see if you agree.]

Option 1: Hire web and marketing resources in-house.

Pros Cons
Dedicated team focused on your business Payroll
Hires become part of your culture Benefits / Insurance
Availability Team management required
Responsive Equipment purchases / Overhead


Option 2: Hire a variety of freelancers / contractors.

Positives Negatives
Hire what/who you need when you need it Availability
Control costs Response times
No taxes Quality control
Extra management required
Lack of unified vision


Option 3: Hire a digital agency

Positives Negatives
Team focused on your business Not a part of your culture
Multi-disciplinary resources Some project management required by the business
Pay for what you need when you need it
Leverage assets and knowledge within team
Tools and processes
No taxes / insurance / overhead


To sum up:

Hiring in-house staff is a great option for a larger business who can afford the budget to hire dedicated staff to manage their online presence. We caution against looking for one person that “can do it all.” This person is a “unicorn.” Although, we have found that an in-house marketing manager or web manager can be the ideal interface between the business and an external digital agency, the complexity of skillsets required to successfully manage an online business can’t be embodied in just one or two in-house staff members.

Hiring freelancers is very tempting and many businesses go this route. Unfortunately 80% of the businesses that try this will also be burned by freelancer availability, response time, and quality. Also, for larger marketing and development efforts, these samurai-like freelancers are difficult to coordinate since they operate individually and have their own methods of execution.

And the winner is…

A professional web agency should have all the resources you need, marketing, branding, copywriting, design, programming, strategy, management, etc., along with tools and processes to deliver what you need when you need it. You will probably save money because although the agencies hourly rates may be higher than internal staff or freelancers, the benefits of having the right resources at the right time, and resources that understand your brand and business, all outweighs the potential extra cost. This Entrepreneur Magazine article provides additional data on the cost-effectiveness of agency rates.

An agency is a one-stop solution and also provides for efficiency and unified effort towards your business goals. Digital agencies will create a flexible schedule so you only pay for the resources you need to keep your business running. If you want to learn more – contact us at Executionists.

Also see this extensive article on this subject: Freelancer vs Agency Review

Richard Parr
by Richard Parr
Posted: January 16, 2017