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Marketing Agencies vs. Freelancers

Which One Is Right for Your Business? 

Portrait Of Businesspeople In Modern Open Plan Office

Ad agencies typically charge a retainer fee and require a substantial annual marketing budget.

As a freelance copywriter, I often get asked by prospective customers how my services differ from those of advertising or digital marketing agencies. It’s a fair question. After all, the marketing you do for your business can be the difference between failure and enormous success.

The answer is multi-faceted. As a freelancer, I offer specialized services. I am specifically, a copywriter. While many of the projects I do incorporate graphic design, website design, photography and printing, I specialize in the writing aspect. The other components I either outsource or partner with other freelancers. With a marketing firm or ad agency you get all services under one umbrella.

Sounds smart and convenient, but it comes with a price. Compare my rates as a freelance copywriter to what you’d pay for copywriting if you go through a digital marketing firm or ad agency, and you’ll see a big difference.  Freelancers have lower overhead. Many choose to work out of their home and most don’t have employees. Therefore, freelancers generally charge less than agencies.  The savings you realize means you’ll get more bang for your buck out of your marketing budget.

Orlando freelance copywriter

Freelancers are often solopreneurs who work out of their homes. They charge less than ad agencies and marketing firms because their overhead is less. The savings can be passed on to their clients.

Determine Your Marketing Needs

If your business requires a wide range of advertising and marketing services, or you have an exceptionally large project you need completed, you may require more than a single freelancer can offer.  ollectively, an ad agency can offer a broader skill-set all under one roof.

Of course, you can always work with several different specialized freelancers, but be prepared to act as the project manager in that case. As project manager, you’ll need to assemble the team, delegate the assignments, create a timeline and follow through on the myriad of details that culminate in a job well done.

Most ad agency clients have annual budgets in excess of $500,000.  The bigger the ad agency or marketing firm, the bigger the budgets of its clients. Determine if you’re a fit and are willing to pay a monthly retainer fee in addition to project costs.

Orlando ad agency

An ad agency will offer you the resources of a team to serve your marketing needs.

On the plus side, you’ll have a resource you can easily call on at any time to assist with your marketing projects. Once the people at the ad agency know your business, you won’t have to invest time getting them up to speed every time you need something done. You can expect a certain style of work as well as a big-picture plan regarding the development of your brand.

Consider a Freelancer

Many companies, especially small to mid-sized businesses and startups, don’t want to work with a marketing firm or ad agency. Instead, they’d rather assemble a team of specialists for each assignment, such as a freelance copywriter, graphic designer, web developer, SEO expert, etc. They also don’t want to pay the higher fees usually associated with agencies and marketing firms.

Freelancers are a good and cost-effective choice if you have occasional marketing projects as opposed to a large, ongoing need that would be too much for a solopreneur to handle. They’re also a good choice if you have a specific project you’re looking to have done versus handling the branding and marketing of an entire account.

Freelance copywriters and marketers

Freelancers are a cost-effective alternative to full-service ad agencies or marketing firms.

If your project happens to require multiple talents, most freelancers have a network of professionals they can bring in to round out the team.  For example, as a freelance copywriter, I often call in a graphic designer for print work and a web designer/developer for website production.  These other professionals are people with whom I’ve partnered many times and trust will produce quality work for my clients.

Consider these benefits of using freelancers:

  • Cherry-pick your specialists. That is, you can select individual freelancers (copywriters, graphic designers, web designers, etc.) whose style you want for your specific brand or product.

    With an ad agency, you essentially get the style of the agency as a whole. You may or may not like the talents (or personalities) of the individuals.

  • No monthly retainer fee. Freelancers typically charge per project or hourly. Most marketing agencies charge a retainer in addition to project fees.
  • Lower rates. Freelancers typically have less overhead than ad agencies. They often work out of their home, and they have few, if any, employees. That savings is passed on to you.
  • Most freelancers are entrepreneurs.  They have a business owner mindset as opposed to employee mentality.  You’ll find they’re highly motivated and passionate about their work, which comes through in every job they do.
  • Flexibility. Freelancers are often more flexible than marketing agencies.  That means if you have a last-minute assignment or a project you need completed on a short timeline, freelancers can often accommodate you.  They can be more efficient because they don’t need to allot time to staff meetings, generate project paperwork to keep the team informed or deal with office politics.
  • Business savvy. Most freelancers have worked with a wide variety of clients and often have worn many hats. They know a lot about business, sales and marketing in addition to their freelance specialty, whether it be copywriting, graphic design or photography.  They’ll bring that knowledge and experience to all the jobs they do for you.
  • Consistency. By using the same freelancers on an ongoing basis, you can mirror the consistency you’d get with an ad agency but without paying ad agency prices. With agencies, you also frequently have turnover. When the person who knew your business best leaves for a new job or even gets promoted within the agency, you go back to square one in educating your new agency contact about your business.
  • Be a big fish. With a freelancer, you can be a big fish in a little pond. You get prompt service and have a direct line to the person who will be executing your project. At an ad agency, unless your budget is substantial, you may be treated like a little fish, which can mean delays in getting projects done. It may also mean that most of your interactions with the agency will go through an account coordinator or account executive versus the creative types (copywriter, graphic designer, etc.) who may ultimately end up doing the work.

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Susan Greene is a freelance copywriter located in Orlando, Florida. She treats all her clients like “big fish.” 

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Wow! Sounds great! I’d call that a wrap. Thank you so much for bearing with me. This was well worth the effort. Really sends the message home – POW!

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Creators Bounty
Lighthouse Point, Florida

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