Freelancer vs Agency Owner

Freelancer. An Independent person juggling and maintaining a work-life balance.

May 09, 2021

This is a topic I'm going to be talking a lot about on this blog and elsewhere. It's something I'm uniquely interested in; that relationship between Freelancer and Agency Owner and the transition from one to another.

And I speak to it from a couple of different angles. I, of course, run a small web design agency. But sometimes, I'll talk about other types of agencies I work with and have some knowledge about (eg, digital marketing agencies).

Let's discuss a bit about how I think of these two things. How I define them here.

First, what is a Freelancer?

We could also say, solopreneur, small business owner, self-employed, contractor. I just had an amazing podcast conversation with two web developer friends and we talked a bit about this. It was interesting how they thought of themselves. Hint, it wasn't really a freelancer or agency owner. It was something in between or ‘other than'.

When I talk about freelancers I think of that person doing work as an individual for others. That could be a single project at a time or working on a contract for a company for periods of time. You might be juggling multiple clients and projects, but you're mostly working on your own.

When a client would think of a freelancer, they will probably think that person is going to do the work for them; the person they are talking to.

What is an Agency?

Now when I think about an agency, I immediately think this person.. company.. agency.. has a team. The person running this agency is not doing the work all themselves.

They might do some work or a portion of it. They might oversee others and manage a team.

They might just run the agency and focusing on the marketing and sales end. They might label themselves a CEO.

Whatever the case, they are not alone.

And when someone hires an agency they automatically assume that, while this person may be involved in the actual work, there will be others helping out too in various roles.

An agency can be a small boutique agency like I have or it can be a large agency with 100s or 1000s of people.

Everything in Between

Being a freelancer or an agency is like two bookends. The truth lies somewhere in between.

For example when I first started Unified Web Design, LLC.. I could call myself an agency, but I was doing all the work in the beginning.

Then I started outsourcing and getting help on projects.

Then I hired some full-time employees to help in-house.

Then I built relationships with outside agencies to handle more work.

BUT… even then, I still have certain accounts where I play the role web designer or web developer.

My business is a blend.

It was the same for Ryan and Danielle in our podcast. Beyond their methods to get help or use a team, they have their own unique brand of business in general. They approach things in a unique way that reflects their personality, lifestyle, what experience they are leveraging, their education, or what they are passionate about.

So if you are thinking about building an agency (or if you should), you be you. Build what you are equipped to build. Remind yourself that it's not a one size fits all proposition.

AND whatever you decide.. you are having fun. Create your own blend that leads you to your happy place. ?

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Matt Levenhagen


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