Big agency vs. freelancer. Get the best of both worlds! A boutique copywriting agency offers diverse expertise, personalized teamwork and unique availability.
By Peter F. Ohman, Senior Copyeditor & Copywriter at steelecht
Not sure if a freelancer or international agency is the best fit for your copywriting needs? Take the middle ground: go boutique. When it comes to seeking out the help of a creative agency (and allocating a finite marketing budget), you have every right to be picky! For certain projects, a classic agency is too big, while a freelancer with limited capacity would just be too “small”. A boutique agency can be just the right fit, delivering the personalized service of a freelancer, along with the resilience of a real team for support and backup.
How do these different options compare when it comes to the bottom line, your value for money? Here is our humble take:
Big is not always better
Huge, global agencies frequently claim in-house expertise in everything and tend to want to offer you BIG package deals. Maybe you even end up paying for a service you don’t really need. More people isn’t always “more”. The best tactic is to find the right team to work with. Usually it comes down to two or three people with whom you work closely, a tight working relationship that can just as easily be found in a boutique agency.
Small is beautiful – but risky
Freelancers are a popular choice, and rightfully so, because they offer a personal relationship, along with individualized service and continuity. However, freelancers are solo acts. They – and you – have no backup. They generally also lack peer review, which means no editor or proofreader. Creative processes also benefit greatly from collaboration in a team.
Freelancer rates vary considerably, depending on their experience, yet they will generally always be cheaper than an agency. The upside with a boutique agency is you get a team, so you’ll always have someone to pick up where another left off, if need be. Having a team significantly reduces risk and only moderately increases costs. Peace of mind worth paying for!
A team of writers also shares expertise. While one may be more experienced in technical topics, the other brings in fresh creativity better suited to B2C campaigns. They are also checking each other’s work. What’s delivered is simply more balanced writing.
“Whether you’re the CMO of a large business or a small one, hiring a boutique marketing firm could be the best choice you ever make.” Steve Olenski, FORBES
Networks, platforms, whatever
And then there is the worst possible choice: the cut-rate “bargain basement” network agency. Or those freelancer platforms that source talent on a first come, first served basis – at cutthroat rates. Do you get what you pay for here? Will all due respect for the talented souls who offer their services this way, it’s not really a sustainable model for them – or you, as the purchaser, who will never be able to rely on consistency, real expertise or accountability.
As a rule of thumb, if anyone promises you can have it all, and for peanuts, it’s probably a scam. Whatever help they do give you will look like what it is: the result of poorly trained people, working for low pay. The bottom line here: it’s just not worth it.
Go boutique for the perfect fit
Good work comes from building a long-standing relationship with your agency. Boutique agencies offer the perfect conditions for just that. They’re small enough to be personal, yet big enough to provide team support for your communication needs.
But take note: you cannot expect a boutique agency to participate in complicated bids at their own risk. This only makes sense, as they also don’t have (highly paid) key account managers, client services directors or business development managers at hand. Missing a flashy presentation like you’re used to from larger agencies? Instead of a bespoke presentation, ask for reference projects! Work that other customers have happily paid them to create – that’s real quality you can judge, not fluff.
Some of the advantages of a boutique agency will be unique to the team, of course. At steelecht, you can look forward to working with highly creative, educated and experienced writers. We’re a small but tight band – a real team – and we almost always work together on every project, including this blog article. So whoever the starting player is, there are a number of knowledgeable understudies who are briefed and ready to jump in.
Experience the best of both worlds at steelecht. Drop us a line!