Freelancer or Agency? There Is Also a Third Possibility

When searching for the right people for marketing, the average online store owner has several options. They can find a freelancer, entrust the marketing to an agency or hire an internal employee.

However, there is another alternative, which we explore here.

Your final decision comes down to your aims, desire to grow and personal preferences, which can, of course, change. How do you choose the right path?


Table of Contents

What can a freelancer do?

A regular freelancer is an independent expert in a particular area of ​​marketing. They usually focus on one area, such as content marketing, graphic design, SEO, PPC campaigns, Facebook advertising or social media management.

If they are really good, they can deliver on their area of expertise really well. Their work and reviews from clients speak for themselves.

Cheaper, but irreplaceable

Using a freelancer is usually cheaper than using an agency. The freelancer does not have to feed an entire set of collaborators. The price is usually set according to the hours worked or the project type.

A good-quality freelancer is an expert in his or her field and takes responsibility for their results.

On the other hand, you are still talking about one or two people who, between them, cannot deliver on a large-scale project. At the same time, a freelancer is not replaceable. If they go on holiday or get ill, your business has to wait.

A freelancer prepares graphics for ads

How can you tell if you need a freelancer?

  • From a practical and financial point of view, a freelancer is useful for smaller projects and start-up online stores. A single freelancer should be able to set up high quality Google Shopping or Performance Max campaigns. That is, of course, if they are experienced and can provide demonstrable results.
  • You should opt for a freelancer if you understand marketing and can put together a basic marketing strategy.
  • Equally, don’t hesitate to go down this route if you have time for marketing and can divide up the work across different channels to individual freelancers (social networks, copywriting, PPC campaigns etc.).
  • You have measurable goals in place, you’ve selected appropriate marketing channels and you know exactly what you need from the freelancer.

Working with a freelancer, same as working with an agency, can bring good results and mutual satisfaction.

It works best if you know which area of ​​marketing you need to focus on and can approach a specific freelancer accordingly. Go for people with references.

Signs that a freelancer is no longer enough

Things aren’t always this simple. Business owners are not marketers and one freelancer cannot deliver all of digital marketing.

Usually, an online store encounters a problem once it starts to grow. Its needs become more complicated and the marketing gets more convoluted. What does it look like in practice?

You don’t know what you really need

Do you want to sell tickets to an international conference? Communicate it through Google Ads and Facebook advertising. A skilled freelancer should be able to handle this.

What if it doesn’t work?

The error could lie in a confusing landing page or a complicated customer journey. A simple project suddenly needs a lot more than just one person.

All of a sudden, the business owner has to get to grips with different areas of marketing and resorts to outsourcing the work. This is exhausting and it costs time needed for strategic decision-making.

At this point, a marketing agency would be a better choice.

More complex projects or strategic business decisions cannot be executed by a freelancer. Here, an agency is the better option.

Do you have a product that is not yet in demand?

A problem also arises when you’re selling a product that people are not looking for.

A great example is ‘včelobaly’ – natural beeswax food packaging. When they first arrived on the market, no one knew that they would want to have them at home. Brands first had to realise this need.

In this example, you are entering a whole new level of marketing. In addition to paid performance advertising, you need to increase product awareness. You will achieve it by creating communication for brand support, creating video content, creative copywriting or a social network strategy.

If you only pay for search advertising, you won’t sell anything. A few years ago, no one was looking for the term ‘natural beeswax food packaging’.

You want to deliver on a larger project

A larger online store needs interdisciplinary people. These can be very difficult to find among freelancers. A marketing agency has an advantage here, as it already has these individuals – simply due to its size.

It will determine the strategy and assemble a suitable team of marketing specialists.

You can have three, five or even ten people working on a complex project at the same time. If the needs of the online store change, the agency can react quickly and re-shuffle the team.

If the online store is also looking at the customer journey, UX design or the usability of the entire website, this adds complex management requirements.

Such services are already beyond the capabilities of a freelancer team and the management element would be delivered more effectively by an agency.

An agency as a coordinated team of specialists

A marketing agency is a team affair. There will be several specialists in individual areas of digital marketing working in it. Among them, you will also find strategists or financial or marketing directors.

Experts from each field exchange know-how and, if necessary, step in for each other.

Thanks to this, the agency can look after larger project, but you can also expect a higher hourly rate. You will also have less control over the people working on individual tasks.

Still undecided? Ask yourself these 3 questions

1. What do you want to achieve with the online store?

As long as the aim of the online store can be solved by one person, stay with a freelancer. If you want to grow or expand , you need a more comprehensive solution.

Think about whether the current person can fulfill even those more ambitious goals (increasing efficiency and profitability, paying off the investment, expanding abroad).

Growth goals clearly indicate that you need more than just a freelancer.

The fastest way to grow is by expanding into new markets. However, this is beyond the scope of a freelancer.

2. How comfortable are you with marketing?

Imagine you want to build a house and you don’t have a construction degree. You can find people for everything, but you cannot check the quality of their work. You find a crack in the ceiling or crooked tiles – at that point, it’s too late.

Marketing works the same way. The owner needs to know what their superpower is and whether they can manage marketing. If they do not understand a number of technical things right at the beginning, they need to own a healthy amount of self-reflection.

3. How much time do you have to coordinate freelancers?

All the while the project is smaller, a smart owner can manage the marketing themselves. Perhaps a little bit intuitively, based on gut feeling, but with acceptable results.

From a certain point, once the business grows, the coordination of marketing activities becomes extremely time-consuming.

At that point, you can hire a person with a comprehensive marketing overview or delegate the management of marketing to someone else.

At Dexfinity, we have skilled managers who look after the given project for as many as 30 to 40 hours per month. Many online stores do not need a full-time marketing manager.

When should you hire an in-house marketing employee?

A growing business will eventually stop approaching the entire agenda through external agencies and start building its own internal team.

If it makes economic sense, an in-house marketer like this is a great option. They will have perfect understanding of everyday problems and can flexibly solve various situations.

At the same time, working with an external marketing supplier is still advantageous. Even a smart internal marketer needs contact with other people and the ability to share experiences.

The internal team is usually too small for the exchange of know-how.

Don’t look for services, but for a partner

Regardless of whether you choose an agency or a freelancer, this person or company should primarily be your partner – a marketing partner who will accompany you on the path to growth and expansion.

There is also a third option

Sooner or later, all growing online stores reach the limits of cooperation with freelancers and agencies.

That’s why we suggest a business accelerator as a third option – a team with shared know-how that provides comprehensive support to e-commerce projects .

Superpowers of a business accelerator

Dexfinity is not an agency. It is a cloud of marketing specialists with many years of experience, all of whom are primarily focused on results.

We work on projects according to who is good at what, and we regularly check the client’s satisfaction with the results.

If the needs of the company change, we adjust the team

We are always ready to deploy an external financial director or strategist to the project, who can move the project by leaps and bounds in a matter of hours.

In the West, this represents a common practice, enabling businesses to get a quality person and save on costs associated with an internal employee.

You pay for results, not hours

We stand behind our results and do not make promises we cannot deliver on. Many collaborations work on the basis of a success fee model with a variable remuneration system.

If you have the ambition to overcome any boundaries, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Thanks to the Dexfinity Editorial Staff for Creating This Article

Pavol is the CMO of Dexfinity. He leads e-commerce consultants and marketers who helps online stores in 34+ countries of the world, including the USA and Asia. At the same time, he is the bearer of values ​​and creator of the company's vision.

Share the article


Let's join forces.

Share your project with us and let’s discuss it’s potential.

Michal Lichner

Michal Lichner
Head of Sales & Biz. Development
+421 911 585 689


Tomáš Karaba
Sales & Biz. Development
+421 904 979 851


Pavol Adamčák
Executive Director
+421 918 435 105

Select all the areas you are interested in.