Freelance work and workers have emerged as a viable option for many creative services based work. It is now possible for businesses to get work such as writing, designing, data entry, and many other services done by a freelancer rather than employ a person-in house. SEO, online marketing and advertising are a few areas where companies have been using freelance personnel to get the work done but there are different opinions on the effectiveness of such a move and whether hiring an in-house person, a free lancer, or using an agency is the best way to go about it.
The Options Available
With regards to SEO and advertising projects there are three options, namely hiring an external agency, using a freelancer, or using your in-house marketing team.
SEO and online marketing will be the new reality for companies going forward and it is not a fad that will go away. Moreover, SEO is a continuous process that requires monitoring almost daily and fresh efforts for new initiatives. In this context, it might be a good idea for a business to create an in-house team or hire a single SEO or digital marketing specialists especially if your line of business involves frequent marketing efforts and many online interactions. It is almost compulsory for big enterprises to create an internal team and they have a sizeable budget and time to focus on these marketing efforts, but even if you have done so, that doesn’t mean you should rule out involving other options such as working with a digital marketing agency.
However, in this age of lean teams companies do take the option of outsourcing the job to a professional SEO agency and stick to their core competencies.
Hiring an in-house person often involves several risks associated, such as the fact you’ll often have to pay a hefty amount for a person who’s not guaranteed to be successful, and you’ll be tied to this employee for a long while, this also includes benefits and the like.
Generally, in-house SEOs in Hong Kong can make 40,000-80,000 HKD and above per month, where as most agencies only charge in the 5,000 to 30,000 range depending on the size of the business. So it is much more cost effective for a business to hire an SEO agency when compared with an in-house person.
The advantage of an in-house SEO specialist is the response time, they’re able to provide you with quick data and assessments on the analytics side, and you may be provided more transparency considering they are working for you. This also means you get to control the resource output, you know exactly what tools are being used on your campaign.
As far as freelancers, SEO professionals have stepped out of their routine jobs and become freelancers to be able to work at their choice and for other reasons too. Then again there is the issue of being able to fit in the schedule for each project for the freelancer since they are likely to have other engagements going simultaneously.
Freelancers advantage is that like in-house, there is a possible quicker response time and more control over the processes. However this is the least recommended of all options because simply put in this industry you can’t afford to make the wrong mistake, you can end up wasting thousands of dollars on a person who’s unqualified, and it will lead you to believe that SEO or marketing doesn’t work, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
One of the core issues with hiring a freelancers aside from transparency is knowing how their time is being allotted. If they have a lot of projects going on, it’s difficult to guarantee they are working on your project continuously.
Here are some different areas to consider when you’re weighing your options:
Cost – An in-house person is expensive, an agency gives you the ability to choose from many different pricing structures to fit your business in a competitive field, and a freelancer will come the cheapest but weighs the risk of not being able to deliver results and transparency.
Skills and Expertise – A digital marketing agency will have far more resources available to them due to their budget. A freelancer may not be able to afford all the tools if they don’t have a big enough client base, and in-house person means that you get to review all of their credentials become they come on board.
Project Management – Freelancers may not offer project management to the extent needed, and are best suited for one-off tasks. In-house teams can develop this attribute and can be trained by project experts in other areas but again the agency is at an advantage here due to time dedicated to the project
Staffing or Finding the Right Professional – On this count there is not much difference for a company. It involves the same rigour to assemble an in-house team as it does to find a freelancer that is suitable. There are many top-level freelance professionals plying their trade and companies would need to look around until they find one that is good at their job.
With an agency, they often have risks mitigated by providing incentives/promotions to join on, such as month to month contracts, or don’t pay until you rank incentives, where as a freelancer needs capital upfront otherwise they can’t survive, and an employee gets paid regardless whether they perform well or not.
So all in all, the final choice has to be made at the company level. Each business is unique and only the company is aware of the requirements and project parameters such as goals, budget and resources, existing marketing system, company policy and the like. A considered decision has to be made after a detailed study.
As far as we’re concerned, the clear cut winner is a digital marketing agency for having several advantages in a free market to provide the client with the best experience possible, while also giving the client ample choice between the best companies available, which is not something that is easy to filter out when it comes to employees and freelancers, but the information at your fingertips with a marketing agency.