In short, it really depends on your situation if hiring a freelancer or an agency is better for you. However you should be aware of the pros and cons of both sides before you make a commitment. I want you to be able to make the right choice when choosing someone to build your website because I’ve had many clients come to me after being burnt both by agencies and freelance web developers, for many different reasons. Some were fly-by-nighters, others were unreliable or overcharging. At the end of the day, the most important thing is make sure there is a formal agreement between you two – and to use your discretion. The list below is advice I would give to my friends and family when they are trying to decide who to hire to build them a website.
The good: The pros of hiring a freelance web developer in Cape Town
When hiring a freelancer you can avoid the agency rip-off. For example, when I was working for an agency they would charge a client R550 for an hour of my time. In my personal capacity I charge R250 an hour. I don’t have other staff members to look after or high overhead costs which enables me to charge a fair rate based on my skills and capacity.
Fast and flexible
Freelancers are generally able to build websites quickly and are flexible with their time. This differs from person to person but from personal experience, the design usually takes me 1 week and the development 3 weeks. As for flexibility, we are able to work anywhere at any time we choose. Most freelancers have set office hours so their clients know when they are available, but we do a lot of work outside of those hours too.
When you are a freelancer, your name is on the line if you product bad work. You could be called out directly. For most this is an incentive to product high quality projects and build long term relationships with clients. If you are hiring a freelancer, make sure they are accountable and answer when you call them.
The ugly: The cons of hiring a freelance web developer in Cape Town
Not big enough
If you have a large project it would be better to have a whole team at your disposal rather than relying solely on an individual. They know how to work together and what to expect. Different parts of the project would be delegated to different team members. Of course you could create a team of freelancers, but going this way comes with it’s own unique set of challenges.
Not a one-stop-shop
Agencies have multiple team members who are each hired to do a specific job. They will have someone who can design a logo for you, another person who can design a website for you, another to build it and another to SEO it. They might even offer website hosting or other creative services like photography. This really makes them a one-stop shop for your website needs, although it comes at a price.
Do you ever read freelancer horror stories on Facebook? You might see a relative complaining about poor-quality work or someone having run off with their money. Some freelancers simply don’t care when their names are on the line. To avoid bad experiences, look for reviews online.
What would I recommend for you?
If you are a small business, a new business, a one-man band or have a low budget, I would recommend a freelancer. Most of my clients are mom-and-pop businesses who need guidance on the whole process and one-on-on attention. If you need advice on starting your own website, take a look at my free website advice or get in touch.
If you are a large and established company I would recommend going with an agency. It can be useful to have everything you need under one roof, if you are willing to pay a premium. Agencies can produce a super wide spectrum of work – usually including graphic design, photography, SEO and sometimes even website hosting.
If you need any advice on who to pick, I am happy to answer any questions you may have.