When does it make sense to hire a freelance copywriter in San Antonio, Austin, or wherever, as opposed to engaging a turnkey marketing agency that offers a full suite of marketing services? It's a worthy question, and one that benefits from a little understanding of how both freelance copywriters and marketing agencies actually work.
For businesses with a tight marketing budget, it obviously makes sense to buy only the services you need. If you already have access to professional-quality web design, graphic design, SEO etc., and you're firmly in control of your brand voice and marketing agenda, you might need nothing more than a writer to generate the content you already envision as part of your master plan. One nice thing about this approach is how easy it is to hire writers on an ad hoc basis. Need a single press release, or a month's worth of blog articles, or a quick update to your home page? Simply call your writer and place that order. Current copywriter not working out? Just hire a different one the next time you need some content. Need more content than one writer can handle? Keep two or three of them in your Rolodex, and engage them as needed. Since copywriters base their rates on their particular experience levels, reputations and skill sets, you can always obtain your ideal compromise between affordability and expertise.
Marketing agencies tend to require a steadier, more consistent agreement and a higher level of commitment from their clients. It's true that many of the smaller ones -- the "boutiques" -- can be amazingly flexible in the tiers and terms of service they offer. But it's a little harder to flit from one agency to another at the drop of a hat. Expect to sign on for a flat monthly rate at the very least. In short, it's a more elaborate situation to get into, and to get out of.
Range of Services
Some copywriters dabble in other marketing services above and beyond writing; the rest of us prefer to focus on the thing we do best. If you know that you need multiple, integrated marketing services, overseen by a professional marketing strategy team, hiring a turnkey marketing agency makes all the sense in the world. But it isn't necessarily your only option.
Remember my opening anecdotes, in which I directed those prospective clients to a marketing strategist and an SEO firm respectively? I was still the designated writer on those jobs -- I simply reached out to my professional network of trusted colleagues. If your copywriter has built up such a network over many years of experience, then you've pretty much got all the pieces of a full-blown marketing agency at your command. Some of these providers may be agencies in their own right; others may be independent contractors and experts in their respective fields. You can mix and match until you have a team that suits both your budget and your marketing needs.
Here's another little insight for your consideration: Many smaller marketing agencies don't maintain their own in-house writing crew anyway. They outsource those services to -- guess who? -- freelancers like me. So you may end up working with a freelance copywriter whether you realize it or not. The big difference in this scenario is that you're not one choosing the copywriter. You may not even be communicating with the writer directly. If that's something that matters to you, you might be better off bringing your own freelance copywriter to the project.
As you can see, there's no clear-cut right or wrong way to proceed. If you're still unsure of your copywriting and marketing needs, feel free to contact me for some honest, straightforward advice!