A major benefit of hiring a freelancer is their enterprising personality. If you’re the one looking over your own shoulder to make sure you’re on-task and productive, discipline is key, and freelance talent has that in abundance. They know what’s expected of them without hand-holding, they’re ahead of the game, and they often demonstrate strong leadership qualities.
They have a broad skillset
Freelancers are multi-disciplined — CEO, accountant, secretary, IT, barista — you name it, they manage it. Often ex-agency themselves, freelancers have experience frequently interfacing with different clients and are usually good at clearly explaining complex concepts to a wide variety of audiences. They are likely comfortable performing some level of reporting, and they will have experience using different task management systems.
That roll-your-sleeves-up attitude
You reap only as much as you sow in the gig economy. Freelancers are highly motivated and solution-driven. When you’re getting paid per project, rather than a steady paycheck that’s consistent regardless of your daily output, you’re going to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Freelancers are independent and have learned the self-discipline to make it happen.
We can get to know each other
We often bring our freelancers on full-time. One advantage here is that both parties get the chance to get to know one another and to see whether it’s a fit. Recruitment is a two-way process, and this helps everyone get comfortable. We had zero staff churn last year – this is one of the reasons why.
No drama – only love for the work
The best freelance talent thinks like entrepreneurs. Often freelancers run their own business, or brand their freelance work as a business, and have a high level of expertise, but want to pivot toward a steadier routine with fewer administrative tasks so they can just focus on high-quality work output. These are likely great candidates because they’re in it for the passion of their work.
Another day, another deadline — every day is different for freelancers, and that’s how they like it. Freelancers enjoy flexible work schedules and expect their projects to evolve. They can easily adapt to different environments and learn new skills. In short, perfect for an agency with a flexible schedule.
But why would freelancers join an agency again? After all, they left agency world for a reason:
Like Céline Dion said, sometimes you don’t want to be all by yourself anymore. Not everyone fits the lone-wolf lifestyle. And there are tangible benefits of teamwork and collaboration. Diverse perspectives help you grow as an individual, stimulating brainstorming sessions inspire great ideas, and recognition of your work — even a simple kudos from the boss — boosts productivity.
Freelance job hiring can be volatile. One week could be a feast, and the next, famine. An agency is more likely to have a steady flow of client work and the ability to focus on winning more. And while some clients promise independent contractors that, “the check is in the mail,” agencies tend to pay on time, at consistent intervals.
Time is money, especially for freelancers. In the gig economy, any time you take off is time you’re not getting paid, and hustle culture can pressure freelancers to neglect the importance of self-care, forgo vacations completely, tough it out to work when sick, and ultimately burn out. At agencies, Paid Time Off, sick days, health insurance, and even mental health days are often built into the system, and during vacation, you can truly check out. A healthy work-life balance benefits everyone.
The chance to learn new skills
Agencies have to be cutting edge and tend to employ the latest and greatest productivity tools, procedures, and talent. Most staff at agencies have senior-level experience and are a great resource for mentorship. The most successful poker players are the ones who have seen the most hands, and agency staff get to see a lot of different hands.
Bigger programs, stronger clients
Agencies tend to have a strong, established reputation in their field, and a robust client roster. That can lead to more comprehensive programs, with multiple tactics and the chance to see your work come to life in a bigger way. And if you have a brilliant idea that can’t be implemented solo, there are more resources in the team to help execute it.
Agency work is as challenging as it is rewarding. Each client meeting is essentially a chance to present the value of your work. This will not only hone your interpersonal skills (and charm) but also motivate you to really up your game. Agencies tend to be a meritocratic environment where career advancement can be accelerated rapidly for individuals that take the initiative to demonstrate their worth.
Sometimes freelancers will go in-house with a much-loved client. Maybe they’ve met the one and they’re ready to go steady? This solves many of the issues facing freelancers — though perhaps not the issue of camaraderie and mentorship if they are the lone comms or marketing person. The challenge is for them to marry the flexibility, low politics, and work focus of freelance to the network support of an agency — a challenge many freelancers are willing to embrace.
Freelancers and agencies provide great value to each other. There are some firms out there (we are one) that love hiring freelancers and can’t wait to convert them to the agency lifestyle — whenever they’re ready to give it another go.
Morgan McLintic is the founder of Firebrand. With over 25 years’ experience in the tech sector, he advises clients about their marketing and PR strategy. Prior to Firebrand, he was the founder of digital communications agency, LEWIS in the US, growing it to 250 staff and $35m revenue.