Writing Agencies vs Freelance Writers. Which Is the Best?

by | Sep 19, 2022 | Writer Management

Asking which is better – freelance writers vs writing agencies is like asking which is better – peanut butter or jelly in a PB&J sandwich.

If you think there can be a definite answer to this question, please read on as I reflect on my time as an editor working with freelance writers. These cases are practical experiences that have ‌brought me great satisfaction, and sometimes great frustration.


Freelance Fun in the UK Sun

Hiring a freelance writer is an obvious choice when a blog owner needs a handful of articles. There’s a wide range of sites where you can find freelance writers, such as Upwork and Fiverr. The rates are competitive and you will be inundated with applicants.

This happened to a UK client of mine, who faced a flood of highly suitable applications for his onetime advert. After whittling it down to 100 solid candidates, he realized his time as CEO could be better spent elsewhere.

Being newly appointed as the content manager, the task fell to me. I had to review all the applications, make a short list, start communication, arrange interviews, trial articles, review the trial articles, and then finally make a selection. Corresponding with 100 applicants was incredibly time-consuming. In retrospect, I take my hat off to HR people who do this every day.

Correspondence quickly became a clear divider. If your time is important to you, then you cannot accommodate a writer who only checks emails over the weekend. And a writer who cannot be clear or comprehend questions at this point of engagement will also create unnecessary challenges later on.

This project had ambitious goals, to post twice a day, five days a week. That is 40 articles a month, meaning each writer had to produce two articles a week. On paper, the plan seemed good. Yet some writers were slow to start and immediately requested an extension of the deadline.

Making use of freelance writers seemed like a good plan initially. But having no formal ties to the company, those that could not keep up with the pace quickly dropped out.

Working on a tight budget did not help either, and the project attracted another oddity that had me reeling. A guy who initially seemed polite, incredibly responsive, and who had submitted a fairly good trial article, turned hostile.

He demanded to be assigned all the topics. Trying to be accommodating, I called him. His English was broken, and I found that other people were doing the writing, not himself. Finding this misleading, I had to end the agreement. His outlash was so crude, I had to call on Upwork to assist me in blocking this individual.

Sadly, these setbacks took their toll. What few people realize is the sizable capital investment needed for high-volume writing before you see an ROI. It can take six months to a year before you even start recovering the capital investment. My client, struggling with paying 10 freelance writers, an editor, SEO guru and a content manager, pulled the plug.


Mindful Mornings

Another client had a different approach. A sensible and slow growth enabled him to amass a profitable blog of over 1000 articles. He was careful to pick topic experts that were relevant to the subject. This served him well, as they were committed to the blog, since they had their own byline and profile, depicting them as experts.

His only challenge was finding these experts, and he had to run new adverts frequently to find that one gem. Again, it took time to arrange interviews and trial articles for hundreds of applicants.


Writing Wonders vs Wonder What…?

Let me just clarify before we dive deeper…. I admire writers. I love their creativity, their enthusiasm, and their skill. They can invent, educate, and uplift. As a bookworm, I have loved the written word from a ‌young age.

Yet managing writers is like herding cats. You have to be flexible and have back-up plans for the back-up plans. I have strong, close relationships with my team of top quality writers, but can write a few horror stories of the not-so-good ones.

Here are some low lights:

Fake profiles: Impressive profiles and solid sample articles, followed by an article you don’t want to touch with tongs. Whoever had compiled the profile and sample articles and this person wasn’t the same.

Ghosting: There you sit, looking at your stunning content calendar, knowing that work has been assigned, waiting for the articles. Then the sound of silence. No article. No writer. No response.

One time draft: I don’t know what to call this group of writers. Usually keen, friendly, and super quick, but they never read what they have written! Articles submitted without the slightest attempt at proofreading their work.

Here are some highlights:

And here I have to list every single talented writer I have happily worked with! Each day working with the writers on my teams is a highlight. They are skilled and professional and incredibly creative. I cannot praise them enough.

Yet writers face challenges of their own. Trying to find work, clients who don’t pay, clients who reject their work, projects ending and periods of feast and famine. Marketing is a never-ending cycle, detracting a writer from more creative endeavors.


Writing Agencies vs Freelance Writers. The Winner.

Do you know which is better yet – writing agencies or freelancer writers? Like a PB&J, the answer is both. Like a sandwich, the two go wonderfully together. They create a symbiosis that benefits both and you, the client.

An agency will spare clients from the challenges of working with freelance writers mentioned earlier. Clear communication, clear deliverables, and quality work are standard procedures for a writing agency.

Writing agencies are ideal for helping blog owners scale and grow their blogs at the right times. With a team supporting you, absent writers will not affect your content production, and you can benefit from add-on services such as graphic design and keyword research.

Writers benefit too, as this gives them an opportunity to focus on doing what they love doing – writing. They have the security of knowing someone is looking out for them, and connecting them with their ideal clients.

So next time you slather on that thick layer of jelly for your favorite midday snack, consider teaming up with a winning team that can take your blog to the next level.

To find out more about how we can help you, simply schedule a free 30-minute consultation from the website.

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