With the rapid evolution of businesses and business models, the one-size-fits-all approach has not been holding merit when it comes to commercial hiring policies in the past few years, for obvious reasons. Owing to the growth of the model of commissioned work, the gig economy now constitutes a huge part of the overall economic sphere due to these changes in recent times. Accordingly, a startup just testing out their products or services, or a small business catering to a niche audience and hence needing minimal resources might opt for hiring freelancers to get the job done for symbiotic benefits. The hiring becomes much faster, a bit of informality leads to more iterations and better results, thus suiting the needs of many enterprises.

If you are such a business that is looking to get some commissioned work done, it would be wise to first weigh your options side by side.

Weighing the options

Hiring freelancers directly

The first option to go for is to directly go headhunting for freelancers on various professional job-seeking websites and applications or on various portals that list down the contacts of freelancers. Usually, a business that is looking to deal directly with freelance workers is most likely to resort to hiring freelancers online directly and narrow down on a negotiation that suits both parties. If one needs flexibility and informality, this option is probably better for the purpose.

Hiring an agency

The second option is to hire agencies connecting to freelancers specializing in different fields. Usually, such agencies act as platforms for hiring freelancers and take up to work as a project further assigning it to a certain number of required freelancers. This option is better suited to businesses that require a bulk load of work to be done and the area of work is varied requiring people from multiple designations. An example of this would be a startup wanting to build a website. They would need developers, designers, and content authors, and an agency would provide all of these.

For a better understanding of what suits your business’s needs, let’s talk about every dimension of a business case for both the stated scenarios.

Budgeting

The first point of the liberation for any commercial transaction is budgeting, hence let’s consider the costs for both our options. A freelance services providing agency invests quite a bit in its resources as well, equipping their workers with required software and devices. Hence, they will make up for those costs in the form of additional charges to their clients. It is clearly slightly heavier on the pocket, but that’s in exchange for the professionalism it brings.

Hiring freelancers directly is the less expensive alternative of the two, as there are no hidden surcharges. No middlemen in the route provide for a cheaper transaction. Moreover, in the ever-expanding gig market, there are takers for literally everything and your budget allocation is sure to find some suitor.

Project Management

Managing a project is easier said than done. When you assign your project to a reputable agency, there’s very little left for you to do as the organization is well equipped to handle every aspect of the said work. One could white label a majority of their clientele in this manner, simplifying their work by delegating most of it to such agencies. 

While you are hiring freelancers individually for different areas of work, managing all of them and working together like a team might not be an easy task to do. Also, needless to say, you will have to act as your own project manager.

Skill Diversity

Both your options offer a sufficient amount of skill diversity, but of a different kind. If you go for an agency, you cannot micromanage every single individual’s work on your project whether you like their work or not, as there are no customizations available within the team. 

On the other hand, every profile is replaceable when you are hiring freelancers separately for each skill. It is easier to remove or replace workers that do not resonate with your company’s line of work in this case. 

Accountability

The primary reason due to which an enterprise hires an agency is because of the accountability it offers. With an impression to maintain and a market brand image to comply to, chances of conning, misbehavior, or missing deadlines is ruled out. If some individual within the team is unable to work due to some reason the agency will take up the responsibility to get the work done at the due date anyhow. 

This is lacking when we talk of individual freelancers. If the person falls sick or worse, meets an accident, there is no backup available and you will have to wait till the person is well and can work again. Also, in a general sense, you would have to go through a lot of hit and trial for hiring freelancers that understand your business idea and work satisfactorily. In an agency, the quality of work is, at the least, assured.

Post Production Bugs

Another factor branching out of accountability is solving post-production bugs. If you want to save your time and effort by not chasing freelancers for iterations in their work the digital agency route is the one to go for. A business is sure to have a customer support system that will solve your issues even post deal closure. In the case of working with individual freelancers, it is recommended to negotiate about post-production bugs at the start of the work itself or let them know about the changes soon after the work has been completed, while they’re still accessible.

Scalability

Being a startup means irregular workflows and seasonal outbursts of work. Hence scalability is also a factor to consider while making hiring choices. In a digital agency, the work cannot be scaled after initiation due to contractual limitations. Working with individual freelancers gives you more flexibility than this, as you can go on hiring freelancers in bulk whenever you want, or also negotiate with the ones already working for you as the informality of the situation pays off in other ways.

Use Case for either scenario

For a better understanding of the scenarios, let’s delve into the use cases for either option. 

The situation – Company XYZ is a startup in its pre-alpha phase looking for a repository of work to be completed before its release two months later. The work includes website development, website design, and content writing. 

Challenges – 

  • Limited time
  • Large amount of work to be done
  • Different genres of work to be done
Case 1 : Hiring Freelancers

Pros :

  • Flexibility. Any addition or subtraction of the workload in between the job can be managed well.
  • The designer, developer, and writer can be picked separately based on their skill set. Hence, quality is maintained.
  • Will be cost-effective.

Cons :

  • Low accountability of work, the higher chance of missing the deadline. 
  • As several people are involved, synchronizing the work between them might get difficult. Ex. A design can only work on a design template once the writer has given him the content and the marketer has given him the brief. 
  • If the work requires changes, iterations might be difficult to formulate.
Case 2 : Hiring an agency

Pros :

  • High accountability – an agency will never miss the deadline.
  • No routine calls required to keep everybody on track or on the same page, the project manager will do it himself.
  • Any post-production bugs will be taken care of at short notice.

Cons :

  • For a startup, the costs might not suit their limited budget.
  • Changes cannot be made in the middle of the project.

A business must have a vision according to which its decisions are made. While one of these models works well for one business, it might prove to be detrimental to the other. Hence each of these pointers must be carefully analyzed with your core idea in mind to bring out the best in your resources. 

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