First of all, it is interesting to see what factors experts around the web are bringing up most frequently when it comes to picking a WordPress tech. Those are likely to be the most relevant aspects to consider for business owners deciding between working with an agency or a freelancer. This guide looks at five key areas to focus on in order to make a smart choice picking a WordPress expert for your site.
How much does it cost? The most commonly mentioned factor for the choice between a freelancer and an agency. In almost all cases, the Price or cost is mentioned as the main benefit of working with a freelancer. Partly because they don’t need to cover for any overhead costs, and partly because there is high competition between freelancers that drives the prices down. Some smaller agencies argue that there’s not much difference between a small agency and a freelancer, but that larger agencies will be much more expensive.
For small businesses and startups, the cost is a more important factor than for larger businesses. Thus, several sources recommend freelancers as an option for small companies that cannot afford agency prices.
For more information about website costs, I wrote another article about the costs of getting a WordPress website built, from both the end customer’s and the digital agency’s perspective.
The second most mentioned factor is Reliability. Many authors seemed to have experienced, or heard of, cases when freelancers suddenly disappeared or got jammed with another project.
Having a “single point of failure” is too high of a risk for many larger companies. The reviewed articles unanimously praise agencies for higher reliability, based on two main reasons. Firstly because of the stability of having an established company to work with. Secondly because by having more employees, the agency can cover when someone goes on vacation or sick-leave.
3. Ensure Quality
The factor Ensure Quality is related to reliability, but focuses on the work itself. Most mentions relate to how agencies are better at using established processes and industry best practices. Others discuss the limits of freelancers’ abilities in areas that are not their focus niche. Additionally, it can be a daunting task to select the right freelancer. While there are many talents out there, the pool of available freelancers is huge, and many are beginners who are just starting out and want to make some extra money.
However, some articles also promote this factor as an advantage for freelancers over agencies. They argue that freelancers (and small agencies) can be more free and creative than the bigger agencies. A big agency may be following too rigid processes and be influenced by the opportunity to reuse old ideas, limiting their ability to come up with new and unique ideas.
4. Turnaround Time
Most articles agreed that agencies can turn around a project faster than a freelancer. The two main reasons given were experience and being able to run activities in parallel with multiple team members to speed up the process. Also, lead time can suffer in a freelance setup with more than one person involved, due to the communication and collaboration between people who don’t know each other.
In an agency, on the other hand, the team is used to working together and are normally working in the same office to facilitate meetings and face-to-face communication. Even a freelancer himself mentions turnaround time as a drawback of working with a freelancer (Patrick Neve). The exception is Inkbot who argue that a freelancer can sometimes be a faster option, since one person is in charge of the project and doesn’t have to coordinate with other designers or developers.
5. Personal Relation
We’ve arrived at the second factor in favor of the freelancer, Personal Relation, although there are multiple sources claiming that the agency has an upper hand here too. Chris Lema writes that one of the main benefits of a freelancer is that it allows development of trust and rapport, which is seconded by other authors. Quick responses and loyalty are also mentioned as pros of working with a freelancer.
A subfactor that I chose to categorize under personal relations is the understanding for the customer’s brand and culture. The articles were mixed on this point, with some promoting agencies and others promoting freelancers as the best partners to fulfill this need.