Just as your property is different from the one down the street there’s no one-size fits all approach to marketing and finding the right fit for your website maintenance, graphic design, SEO work, or email campaigns. Many innkeepers will rely on freelancers while others depend on agencies to keep operations running smooth with your online marketing. Neither choice is inherently better as it truly depends on what your property needs and your budget. This article will share some pros and cons of each option and help you identify which one is best for your business if you’re in the market for design or Internet marketing assistance.
First, let’s look at how agencies and freelancers differ. An agency is a company with specialized professionals that are responsible for particular tactics in accordance with your contract. A freelancer typically has a specialty (copywriting or design) but is not on the payroll of a marketing company. Many freelancers have other jobs and work nights and weekends when they pick up jobs. Agencies and freelancers typically bill by hours of work performed.
When you should partner with a freelancer:
- Simple project: If you just need logo revisions or some simple graphic design work, a freelancer can be a cost-effective option. Especially if the freelancer specializes in the type of work you need.
- Small budget: Similar to the point above, freelancers are generally specialized in certain tactics and therefore can be cheaper than agencies. For a small project that you’re not expecting to put a lot of money into, a freelancer is a good bet.
- Long timeframe: If you don’t have any sort of urgency in your project, a freelancer is a good option as you can work with them through the design and revisions at a slower pace.
- Limited scope: The flip side to being a simple project means that you could run into trouble if you realize during the project that you need a few more things from your freelancer but they’re not specialized in that area or comfortable doing those kinds of projects. Then you’ll need to find another freelancer to handle that work on top of the one you already contracted with.
- Priority: There are many full-time freelancers available but a lot of them also have other jobs or commitments and work off-hours. Getting a hold of them during your business hours may be tough and if they have other projects, they may put priority on projects that aren’t yours.
- Selecting a freelancer: Reviewing portfolios and interviewing freelancers to find the right one can be quite time-consuming and as an innkeeper you’re already out of time.
When you should partner with an agency:
- Long-term plans: If you’ve got a project that spans a variety of tactics and you’re hoping for a partner that’s in it for the long haul, an agency can be a better choice.
- Multiple specialties: A pro of working with an agency is that you have access to professionals that have experience in a variety of mediums and tactics. If you need copywriting, web design, ad design, or email marketing, the agency probably has someone on staff just for that purpose.
- Dependability: The agency is going to have business hours and chances are you’ll always get a hold of someone when you need support. A manager will also be checking to make sure your retainer is met and that you’re getting your deliverables.
- Price: The biggest drawback of an agency is the price as the business has overhead and salaries to pay. It just depends if the price is within your budget and covers yours needs.
- Priority: Similar to freelancers, you know agencies have other clients and they could be a priority.
How do I pick one?
Now that you’ve seen some of the pros and cons of each option, here are some things you need to think about when you decide it’s time to interview freelancers or agencies.
- Price: What is your budget? Is it a one-time allocation or is this money you’re ready to spend month-after-month?
- Quality: There’s the saying, “You get what you pay for.” It’s important to review portfolios or get references from both freelancers and agencies to see if their work is in line with your expectations.
- Experience: Do you need highly specialized experience or is your project in need of multiple specialties?
- Time: Like your price point, how long do you expect this project to take? Do you need immediate attention? Freelancers timelines could be weeks out with juggling other projects, whereas agencies have multiple employees they can put on a project.
- Dependability: Do you want to be heavily involved in the project and need to be able to contact your marketing person during normal hours?
- Location: Do you need someone local or are you comfortable working with a freelancer or agency in another city or state? It can be a lot easier finding a local freelancer but many agencies these days have the technology to minimize the impacts of distance.
Again, there is no right or wrong answer. You need to choose the option that works best for your property, your business goals, and your working style. Sometimes, you might even find that a combination approach works best.