Asking which is better – writing agencies vs freelance writers – 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.
It is my hope that by reflecting on the pros and cons, it can help you decide what the best way forward may be for your particular blog.
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 we needed at least five rock-solid writers to each produce two articles a week. On paper, the plan seemed good. We decided to start with 10 good candidates, and whittle down to the five best ones over the coming months.
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. Others were slow to start and immediately requested an extension of the deadline.
What few people realize is the sizable capital investment needed for high-volume writing before you see a return on your investment. It can take six months to a year before you start to recover the capital investment. My client, struggling with paying 10 freelance writers, an editor, SEO guru and a virtual assistant, pulled the plug.
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 each main 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 these applicants, but because he had a long-term approach, it was not as demanding as the CEO who expected a quick solution.
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 must have been two totally different people.
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.
Quick draws: 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. Editing takes so long, I may as well just have written it myself.
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.
Pros and Cons of Writing Agencies
Now that you know the low and highlights of working with freelance writers, we have to be fair and consider the same for writing agencies.
Cons of writing agencies
Impersonal: The service can seem impersonal, as you are limited to either an interface or an account manager. You cannot get to know your writers, and get a feel for how well they match your blog.
Lack of trust: Who are the writers? Could it be a sweatshop? If there’s no personal relationship between you and the writers, why should you trust that they will do their best writing for you?
Costly: Agencies are more expensive that hiring writers directly.
Sausage factory: Your blog posts will just be seen as ‘yet another blog post’ in a factory of blog posts and all start to look rather uniform.
Formalities: Due to formalities you cannot simply ask for changes or additions to a post. Change request have to go through a formal process, while if you had your own freelance writer you could just ask for changes directly.
Pros of Writing Agencies
Impersonal: An agency managing a group of writers can be a professional buffer allowing business owners to focus on deliverables. Not be bogged down with updates on illness, deaths, births, holidays and the beautiful humdrum that makes us human, which usually accompanies managing a group of people.
Costly: According to Adam Enfroy, professional blogger, the biggest expense is a cheap resource. Not only do they waste time, energy, and cost frustration, but finding a replacement to redo the same work costs even more time and money. For a professional outcome, a writing agency saves time in finding the right people and managing them.
Sausage factory: For consistency and reliability you can trust a writing agency. You do not have to be concerned about the availability and capacity of your writers, as an agency can scale up and down and find replacement resources, ensuring you get consistent output.
Formalities: An agency will take care of the admin, paper work, legal t’s and c’s that could make hiring a full time freelance writer less ideal.
Pros and Cons of WebCare Agency
When working with our agency, you are working with a team of industry experts. We have been around the block, and know what top quality to deliver.
Our SEO expertise will ensure your blog posts are optimized and ready to rank. Our operations will provide you a consistent and reliable supply of blog posts.
The con is having to endure my light-hearted humor.
Conclusion: Writing Agencies vs Freelance Writers. The Winner.
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.
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. Our writing agency employing freelance writers who operate one of the best AI’s available, creating a perfect symbiosis that benefits you, our valued client.
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.
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