Why employers choose agency experience over freelancing – and what you can do about it

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Gaining a foothold in a lucrative freelance field is difficult.

You may have all the talent in the world, and produce high-quality work, but you may still be forced to sit back and watch as job after job is picked up by a large agency.

Competing against an agency can feel like an exercise in futility, but it’s not impossible.

Keep reading to know my insights on the freelancer VS agency debate and how you can stay ahead of your competition!

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Pricing

While one of the main benefits to hiring a freelancer is the ability to negotiate costs and retain professionals at a lower price than hiring an agency, it’s never a guarantee.

An agency can set competitive prices, and advertise them against the pricing of their competitors.

When a potential client is searching for someone to perform work that they themselves don’t understand, there is a great deal of uncertainty about what they should be paying.

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Clients may feel that a reputable agency will be right on target for the work needed, and that there is an agreed upon standard for what that work entails.

When working with freelancers, inexperienced clients may find themselves overwhelmed with a range of prices from $3 an hour to $150 an hour, and they don’t know how to determine what constitutes quality work and how much it costs.

To overcome this obstacle, make sure that you are prepared to discuss typical rates for the same type of work that you do.

Be prepared to show examples of what you can do, and what your competition has done, and explain in detail why your product is a better value for the client.

Access to a group of experts

You may be one of the best in your field, but what if a client needs services outside of your realm of expertise?

When someone hires an agency, they may be getting a web developer, a blog writer, an email marketer, and a graphic designer, all with one phone call, one bill, and one goal in mind.

The simplicity and peace of mind that it gives clients is often worth the exorbitant prices that an agency might charge.

To solve this problem, you need to hone your networking skills.

If you’re a web-designer, contact a graphic designer that you can build a relationship with. Access not only people within your field, but those who may do related work.

Build your own “team” of experts, who you can call on if you find a client that needs additional work that falls outside of your skill set.

Having a ready answer when a client asks if you can also write blog posts is a good way to land a job that would otherwise go to an agency.

This approach can also help you gain clients, as team members may refer work your way as well.

Fear of the unknown

Do a quick web-search for “how to hire a freelancer” and you’ll come up with literally thousands of horror stories from clients who had a bad experience with a freelancer.

There will be stories of work that was never completed, a final product that looked like it had been done by a middle-schooler, or someone dragging a project out and demanding more and more money as time went by.

This could be one of the main reasons that people avoid hiring contractors over an agency.

Put their minds at ease.

See if your clients are willing to give a reference to other potential clients, and make sure that you have permission to add the work you do to your portfolio.

Have a list of set prices prepared to send potential clients, with a description of what you can expect. This may help them understand the value.

Design the project with payment milestones, with an opt-out after each milestone. This allows both of you the security of knowing that if things don’t work out or you had different expectations, you can end the project amicably.

They will only have paid for a small amount of work completed, and you won’t have wasted hours working towards something that you get stiffed for in the end.

Remember that the client is looking to pay someone for a job well done, and they want to know up front that they aren’t going to get burned. Hiring a large agency with a broad talent pool and multiple skills may seem like the safe bet.

So it’s up to you to make sure that a potential client understands why you are the better value. Your thoughts?

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About James Pointon

James Pointon is a passionate blogger and content creator, currently supporting OpenAgent – real estate experts. Having worked on a variety of freelance projects himself, James likes sharing his thoughts and opinions with other freelancers online. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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  1. Great advice James! Sharing.