Deciding whether to hire a freelance marketer or a marketing employee can feel like a daunting and confusing decision. Although both workers have the ability to perform the same services, there are certainly differences between the two that can help you determine which choice is best for your business.
First, let’s take a look at the overall difference between freelance marketers and marketing employees. Marketing freelancers deliver a specific job within a set timeframe, and are often hired on a project-by-project basis. They are hired without needing to make a long-term commitment, and they also have the freedom to determine what services they would like to offer.
In contrast, a company hiring a marketing employee will hope that employee can stick around for the long-term and perform job tasks that are determined by the supervisor, owner, CEO, etc. They often work under more supervision and direction than a freelancer would and are treated as part of the internal team with culture fit expectations and a designated schedule and location to work.
So how do you determine if a freelance marketer or a marketing employee is best for you? Well, here are a few factors to take into consideration before you make your big decision.
Can a freelance marketer meet your project needs?
Take a hard look at exactly what tasks and projects you are in need of within your business. Do you have a single project that needs to be completed? For example, maybe you just need a website designed or someone to set up your social media platforms. If that is the case, a freelance marketer may be the right choice.
Can a freelance marketer meet the time demands of your projects?
I just love the organizational catch phrase of being “fast-paced”. This usually means deadlines are tight because demands are spur-of-the-moment. I have a lot of opinions on this terrible trend (and why it should stop being a badge of honor for companies) but if your business operates under quick turnarounds, a freelance marketer is probably going to push back or eventually fail to deliver that quickly over and over again. You may even have difficulty finding someone to agree to a fast deadline.
In all honesty, a freelance marketer who is available for quick turn projects may not be delivering high quality work. If they were, they’d be too in-demand to accommodate your speedy time frames.
In this case I recommend hiring a marketer who can be fully available for fast project completion and who is up for the “fast-paced” environment of the company.
Will a freelance marketer be able to quickly grasp the context of your business?
Some industries, services and revenue models are trickier to understand than others. If you have to spend considerable time explaining how to present the business to an audience, a freelance marketer may have to increase their rates just to survive the crash course in how exactly your business operates, technical terms or how sales happen.
I have personally worked for clients through my virtual marketing agency who I quickly advise to start looking for a marketing hire – mainly because an internal employee is the better person to learn the business from the inside and be more available to absorb the practices, lingo and goals.
If, however, your business is fairly straightforward, a freelance marketer should have no problem grasping the context and effectively creating marketing content for it.
How long do you expect the marketing work to last – and is it likely to increase?
If you have a few one-off marketing projects that a freelance marketer can tackle, there’s no need to hire a marketing employee. But if you foresee an increase in ongoing marketing such as content creation, email marketing, social media community management, blog writing or managing sales funnels, it may be best to go straight for the full-time hire.
One alternative here is what we do at Lindsey Wagnon Marketing. We fill the gap between single marketing projects and full-time hiring by offering contractual partnerships with businesses that need something in between. Our aim as a virtual marketing agency is to accomplish the marketing needs while saving the business owner the costs and commitments of a hire. This is explained further in a recent blog.
How much does it cost to hire a freelance marketer vs. hiring a marketing employee?
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room…money! While adding an employee to the marketing team comes with the costs of benefits, training resources, taxes and office support, a marketing freelancer may be able to help you keep a couple extra dollars in your pocket. This is where choosing a freelancer or virtual marketing agency like ours can be a major advantage.
If it seems fitting to use a freelance marketer for your marketing, crunching some numbers is your final step to a decision. Reach out to a few marketers for rates and use the average of those to determine how much you may save if you don’t have to add an employee to the roster. In fact, our agency would use the interest call for prospective clients (part of our onboarding process) to help them decide what the best investment is.
Does your business’ current phase support hiring a marketer or freelancer best?
The phase your business is in also plays a significant role in what type of help you hire for your business. Typically, if you are in the first 1-3 years in your business, you can succeed with a mixture of DIY marketing and partially outsourced marketing services. What might this look like? Perhaps you handle the bulk of the marketing your business, but you hire a marketing freelancer to handle singular tasks like:
Website and Graphic Design
Social Media Marketing
Sales Funnel Creation
These are all tasks that you may not have the time or skill set to perform, so hiring a freelancer to be in charge of a specific duty may make the most sense. Also, in the first few years of your business, you are likely still getting clear on exactly how you want your business to operate, what clients you want to serve, and your desired projection of your business in the next couple of years. Because of this, it may be a little too soon to make the commitment of hiring a marketing employee.
Around the 3-5 year mark in your business, you usually can afford, or are closer to being able to afford a marketing employee. By now, you are clearer on the needs of your business, and what contributes to it running like a well-oiled machine. You have also likely gotten to the point where you have an increased workload and more variety of tasks that need to be completed. Often at this stage, business owners are looking for someone who can grow with their business overtime and contribute to its overall success. This can make hiring a marketing employee a more desirable option.
Remember, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the help that you hire for your business. The best part is that you do have options and being the business owner means you get to choose what you think works best.