In an article entitled The hidden cost of agency freelancers January 6 from Digiday, they assess the cost vs. value comparison of using freelance talent on projects. I concur, freelancers have their pitfalls and merits. Let’s walk through a couple.

Pitfall  //  Knowledge is Power … and Efficiency!

If staffed appropriately (i.e.: not under or over, not top heavy, etc.), agencies can be much more efficient with in house talent. The time it takes to research and/or book a freelancer, get them up to speed on the project and transfer files is much more than if the talent had been involved from the start of the project or has experience on the client. Additionally, orienting freelancers with client brand standards, sensitivities and preferences is harder than having a staff that has worked with the client and knows the ins and outs. In the end, the product is more likely to be well received and on strategy with what both agency and client want if in house talent is used.

Merit  //  Broaden the Horizons

Freelancers can bring a completely different perspective and ideas to the table. Whereas on one hand, experience with a client can help create a deeper understanding of audience, strategy and sensitivities; on the other hand, it can also create unwanted mental baggage, weighing down the creative thought process. In some cases, bringing in freelance talent to freshen the pot and help generate new ideas can be just the ticket.

Pitfall  //  Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money

Freelancers can get expensive. the Digiday article provides a really great study on freelance ROI being almost $10/hour lower than in house talent. There’s also the investment cost to consider. Each and every talent is an investment towards the future of the company. Mentoring young talent and grooming them for future leadership is an important part of an effective agency. Freelance offers no guarantee of future growth.

Merit  //  Help in a Flash

One of the biggest reasons for using freelance talent is needing that little extra help in a quick turnaround situation. New business is a great example–where talent doesn’t need to have client history or deep understanding.