10 Ways Freelancers Can Benefit Ad Agencies

Ad agencies commonly use freelancers to alleviate heavy workloads and meet deadlines. But in today’s uncertain financial times, agency owners are forging stronger relationships with key freelancers and creating strategic partnerships with independent contractors to reduce overhead and stay on top of the game.

Below are 10 ways that using freelancers can benefit an ad agency.


1. Reduce payroll. Some weeks you have more writing work than your agency can comfortably handle – and some weeks you only have a few hours. Rather than hiring a full-time writer, you can hire a freelancer. It’s like having an on-call employee that you only pay for the hours they work. Plus, you don’t have to pay their taxes and benefits.

2. Avoid missing deadlines. You coordinated your project timelines with the precision of an FBI special ops agent, and your team has been right on track. All of a sudden, you’re thrown a curveball. The client doesn’t like the creative, they’re suddenly adding major elements to the project, or something changes that requires a complete project overhaul. Hiring a freelancer in these tough times will allow you to keep projects on track and meet your deadlines.

3. Handle sudden, urgent projects. If you work at an agency, this situation is probably a common one for you: Everyone at the agency is up to their eyeballs in work for important projects when one of your major clients calls and tells you he needs a couple of press releases and radio scripts – by tomorrow. You could tell him no, that you’re too busy right now, but let’s get real; you’re not going to say no because the relationship is too important and you need to come through for your client. Rather than derail your current projects and completely irritate everyone on your team, you can call a trusted freelancer to handle the projects for you. Freelancers usually have more flexibility than a busy agency and will often be able to make your project their #1 priority.

4. Reduce waste. When you hire a freelancer, you only pay for the time when that freelancer is actually working on your projects. I personally don’t charge for the time you spend briefing me or our phone conversations. I only charge for the time I spend conducting research and writing.

I’ve found that the tendency in agencies is to include as many creative people in meetings as possible. This can be inefficient. Since a freelancer doesn’t usually work in your office, you won’t be tempted to drag them into every discussion you have. Plus, you don’t have to pay a freelancer for the time they spend chatting around the coffee pot and, if you have a slow week, you don’t have to pay them for forty hours.

5. Ensure you have the skills you need. When you use a freelancer for a project, you can always be sure to hire someone with the right skills for that job. By using freelancers you can offer your clients specialized skills and knowledge without paying the specialist the hefty salary required to keep those skills around full-time.

6. Handle busy times that may be short-lived. You’re swamped right now. You just landed a handful of huge projects and the workload is definitely too much for your current team. You’d hire some new employees, but what happens if business is slow after the projects are completed? You could convince yourself that your employees want to make some extra money working overtime and risk making them mad and wearing them out. Or you could hire some reliable freelancers to assist your team. The latter definitely sounds less risky to me! But, of course, I’m biased. 😉

7. Relieve pressure in times of employee turnover. It’s a fact of life and business that employees sometimes don’t work out. When they leave, your agency doesn’t have to be left in a state of disarray. Using a freelancer buys you the time you need to recruit a quality candidate to replace the one who left –without the pressure of looming project deadlines.

8. Relieve employees & improve morale. Agency life can be hectic. Most advertising pros get used to it or get out of the business. However, while your employees may be used to coping with crazy deadlines and workloads, the demands of the job can sometimes become impossible when there’s just too much going on. Freelancers can alleviate some of this stress. Your employees will appreciate it — and they’ll be able to think better because they might actually be able to sleep at night!

9. Keep creative fresh. It happens to even the most stellar creative teams: you have a long, arduous creative brainstorming meeting and leave without finding the great idea you need. Being too close to the account or pressure to come up with that great idea can hinder creative thinking. And sometimes when you’ve communicated the same message for the same client for years, using the same creative team in the same creative process, coming up with fresh ideas can be tricky. It’s times like these when it can be helpful to throw a new mind into the mix.

10. Improve accountability. Your work is probably very important to the freelancer you hire. Doing a knockout job on your project is the one way they can ensure that they will be able to continue doing what they love (and, not to mention, never have to go into an office again). Plus, many freelancers work on a project-to-project basis, so there’s a good chance your project will be the most important one they’re currently working on. And if your relationship doesn’t work out, you don’t have to go through the uncomfortable and costly process of firing them. You just vow to NEVER hire them again.

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