Companies can save an incredible amount of money by using freelancers as opposed to Agencies and the reasons are obvious. Traditional Consultancies and Digital Agencies typically charge the maximum they can get away with. They have fixed salaries, training costs, support staff, expensive London addresses, large tax bills, sales staff, account managers and a healthy operating margin to consider whereas Freelancers charge for their time only.  While cost is an obvious benefit (Most sane human beings prefer to pay less for the same service, ceteris paribus), we decided to look at the other, often overlooked benefits that business leaders should be aware of when deciding on either. We believe that the rise of the ‘gig economy’ and the changing business incentives to hire freelancers (Especially among smaller businesses) are down to the following Four components:

1) Freelancers are more flexible

It’s no good handing over the project to an agency and then never having an insight into the day to day. You, even as a non-technical co-founder should know roughly how all of your digital assets fit together. Most agencies have account managers who often act as barriers between you and the creatives/technical people doing the work which slows things down and makes things generally more rigid.

2) Freelancers upskill your team

Freelancers work directly with your team and through interacting with them, they often unload their tips and their methodologies which often augment your team. I’ve worked with some freelancers who should actually consider themselves consultants since they deliver so much value to the business as a whole.

3) Freelancers ‘get’ small and medium sized businesses

Because they often work on Start-up projects they pick up a lot about how to build start-ups properly and how things ought to be done. Agencies tend to work with bigger clients or established SMEs whereas the freelancer is more of a natural fit. After all becoming a freelancer is like starting your own business in many ways.

4) You can hire them if they rock

If you get that special freelancer that fits so well with the team with a reciprocated sentiment from their end, why not hire them once you’re ready? Nothing’s stopping you. This will help you save on recruiting costs majorly.

 

What you should watch out for

While these factors will certainly justify working directly with freelancers, there a few significant pitfalls to consider. Finding quality freelancers is difficult and there are cowboys out there. The comment sections of popular freelancer platforms are filled with horror stories. Freelancers who lied about their identities or skill, who faked online reviews, who ran off with the money, who built products that broke soon after and the list goes on. You can avoid issues like these by vetting your freelancer extensively and preparing exhaustive specifications for the work you need done. As an example, if you were hoping to build a website, you need to come prepared with wireframes, sitemaps and logic maps. You need to know how to spot and preferably test whether a freelancer is good enough to do what you ask, you may even need more than one? This process is particularly hard in the world of tech. Most decision makers in small and even large businesses really struggle to make sense of tech.

While it’s easy to communicate what you want to achieve over a formal conversation, the technical specification is often lost in translation so getting advice on translating your business objectives into bullet proof specifications will make your experience using freelancers painless rather than painful. If done correctly, the benefits are huge.