Freelance copywriter vs copywriting agency

What’s the difference and which is right for your business?

You’re eyeing up that dormant blog, stale web copy or planning some whitepapers you don’t have time to write – you need to hire a professional copywriter. So, who are you best to call? You’ll have freelancers and agencies all banging down your door, asking for the work, so you have a choice – and it’ll depend on a few variables. 

I started my career working in a well-known ad agency, then operated as a freelancer for many years before Words for Breakfast evolved into the fully-fledged copywriting agency that it is today. That means I can give you a first-hand rundown on what you can expect from freelancers, ad agencies or a specialist copywriting agency like us. 

 

Freelance copywriters 

Cost varies, comes with risk 

There are plenty of amazing writers out there, some very senior with price tags to suit, and others more junior who’ll need more guidance. It means being careful about who you choose – you’ll need to find someone with the right skill level to suit your project and budget, who has at least some knowledge of your industry and, crucially, has experience writing in the media you need. There’s a surprising lot of difference between writing a tender and writing web copy, for example.

Choosing the wrong copywriter can create a headache of a project and may mean you need a re-do. Chose the right copywriter – who gets your brand tone voice, the way you work and the media you need copy for – and you’ll want to keep them for years. Which… can also be an issue because freelancers come and go. They generally work alone, so if they get a bout of the flu, move cities or find a full-time job, you’re starting from scratch with a new writer. 

There’s also a big downside with freelancers – they’re copywriters, not project managers, so you may find you’re having to chase them for updates or missed deadlines. 

 

Copywriting teams in design, marketing or ad agencies 

Better project management, iffy writing, much more expensive

Whether you’re looking at a big ad agency or boutique marketing or design agency, chances are they’ll offer copywriting services. If you need copy as part of a much larger project, that can make sense. They’re a one-stop-shop of services, plus you’ll have an account manager keeping all the balls in the air, hitting deadlines and making sure things are on track. But you’ll find you pay for that extra service – often quite a lot more. 

These agencies will also deliver the copy in two ways. They’ll either outsource to freelancers and clip the ticket on the way through, or they’ll have an in-house writer. Outsourced freelancers can work well in terms of quality, but you’ll still need to keep a close eye on consistency if your agency swaps between writers due to lack of availability. 

Copywriters within big ad agencies are generalists – they’re often junior in skill level, trying their hand at a range of tasks as they come up through the ranks. This means you’re not getting that specialist skill you can expect from a freelancer. While larger agencies do have great writers, copy-centric projects such as blogs, case studies and web copy are nearly always handed to junior copywriters. So again, you’re paying a premium for less experienced people, many of whom are focussed on creating work that will get noticed in the industry. That means they’ll either rush through your project so they can get back to the big creative ideas or your copy will be inconsistent as you get passed around different team members. 

 

Specialist copywriting agency 

Great project management, specialist writers, cost-effective 

Ok, obviously we’re a bit biased being a specialist copywriting agency at WFB, but we don’t see many downsides to working with us. Our model combines the best bits of the agency – project management and consistency of service – with the great writing you get from a senior freelancer. Our writers focus on writing, not trying to hustle for work, keep admin under control or manage client expectations. Instead, we leave all that to our account managers, who make sure everything’s ticking over nicely. 

We match writers’ skills and experience to brands so you always get a good fit, and everything’s overseen by our creative director (me) so we capture your brand tone of voice and can roll that out, even if your usual writer gets sick or goes on holiday. We also offer specialised services such brand tone of voice workshops, copywriting courses and content planning to compliment your content marketing strategy.

Any downsides? We just do the writing. If you want something designed or someone to manage your social media, you’ll need to find a good agency that we can work alongside with. If you’re not sure where to look, we’re always happy to make recommendations.

 

Need a copywriter? Take your pick

Freelancers are good, cost-effective writers, but they come with risk and may need managing. A general agency can organise the writing for you – for a higher cost, and it might not be the best copy. A copywriting agency gives you the best of both – great writing, project management and good value for money. 

If there’s some copywriting you need help with then get in touch today.

 

 

Helen Steemson

The lead copy writer and creative director at Words for Breakfast. She spends much of her time working with the copy writing team across a variety of projects.