Digital Agency or Freelancer?
As a digital agency, we often take over projects for clients that have previously been handled by a freelance designer/developer, and find us regularly coming across the same reasons for the switch.
As a digital agency, we often take over projects for clients that have previously been handled by a freelance designer/developer, and find us regularly coming across the same reasons for the switch. It's important to note, however that for some businesses, I believe it is a good idea to actually use a freelancer instead of a digital agency to save money.
It's fairly obvious I suppose, but sometimes, freelancers are a good choice for sole operators, or businesses with smaller budgets. They have much lower overheads, so can charge lower rates. It's important you're aware of all the pros/cons of such relationships however.
Nimble - often a freelancer can be quite nimble in the way they operate - you get to deal directly with the operator/owner/designer. Changes can often be accommodated easily, and work is done quickly (as long as they're not working on too many projects at once).
Pricing - as I already mentioned, freelancers typically charge lower rates as they have lower overheads such as office expenses, project managers, marketing, etc. You just want to make sure they're highly experienced, so costs down blow out later (look for a fixed price quote, with a detailed inclusions list).
Support - some freelancers are able to provide really good support if they're easily accessible. If your freelancer has too many projects on the go, you may find that the support is poor, or non-existent. A digital agency may also suffer the same problem, so it's important to ensure they have a dedicated support infrastructure to provide the help when you need it.
Expertise - obviously using a freelancer means that you're limited to the expertise of one person. This may be suitable if you're after a good designer only, or just an SEO expert, for example. If you're after a provider that can provide strategic input, a wider range of design skills (often they'll employ more than 1 designer), online marketing expertise, larger scale development expertise (in case your business grows rapidly), high-end technical support, then you should consider using an agency.
Stability - freelancers sometimes disappear. A large number of the new customers we get from freelancers are the result of them disappearing into an agency, or taking a ski trip to Canada. This can sometimes mean your site disappears, or you suddenly have no support. Agencies can also disappear, but if you do a little research, and you see that they have a load of happy customers, have been around for a few years, and the owners have a stake in the day to day running of the business, then you should be OK.
Contactable - Agencies are often a lot more contactable than freelancers, with a team of people that can usually help you. Freelancers may be in meetings, working on an urgent new project, or just too busy!
In summary, freelancers may be suitable if your business is very small/not well funded, if the web is not a huge part of your business strategy, your business is in an experimental phase, or your company has an internal infrastructure to manage the freelancer. Otherwise, go with an agency.
Consider all of the above, and make a decision that best suits your business.