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  • Writer's pictureBecky Carré

PPC Agency vs Freelancer: Which Should You Choose?

Over the last decade I have worked in businesses that employed PPC agencies, worked in a PPC agency, and now work as a PPC freelancer! So I like to think I'm well-placed to answer this question...


A meeting room in an agency office


Choosing someone to manage your PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns can be a daunting prospect. 


Just type 'PPC agency' into Google and you'll come across a mind-boggling 44,600,000 results. Both freelancers and agencies will all have vastly different levels of expertise, experience and cost. 


So what should you really be looking for, and is a freelancer or an agency the best choice for you?


What is a PPC Agency?

An agency is a group of professionals all employed or contracted by the same business, offering their expertise to a portfolio of clients. Some agencies will be dedicated to providing only PPC services, while others will offer a range of marketing services such as SEO (search engine optimisation), website design, email marketing, etc.


Depending on your requirements you will have an individual or a small team from the agency assigned to you. 


With some digital marketing agencies you’ll have direct access to the PPC specialist(s) who are working on your account, or with other agencies you may deal with an Account Manager or Client Services Manager who acts as your single point of contact at the agency.


What is a PPC Freelancer?

A PPC freelancer works as a self-employed individual. Most often a freelancer will have worked and gained experience in an agency or a big company but now provide services on their own as a sole-trader or solo founder.


When you work with a freelancer you'll always work directly with that individual.


What is the difference between agency and freelancer?

The primary difference between an agency and a freelancer is the size of the team. An agency can be made up of a team of 2 all the way up to multi-national agencies that have a team of thousands. Freelancers typically work alone on a self-employed basis. 


Some businesses will call themselves an ‘agency’ but are made up of a network of freelancers who work on a contract basis to deliver the work (as opposed to being employees).


PPC freelancer in an office
Agencies often operate via a network of freelancers

Is a PPC Agency or a PPC Freelancer better?

The first thing you need to consider is the requirements of your business, what you're hoping to achieve from hiring a PPC professional(s), and what resources you have available (including budget).


Let's weigh up some of the pros and cons of PPC agencies and PPC freelancers based on each of these factors;


Skills

When you work with a PPC agency your team will likely be made up of an 'Account Manager' and the PPC specialists who carry out the day-to-day work on your account. 


If you are a big client for the agency your account may be allocated to their most senior PPC specialists with the most experience. But in most cases the ‘hands-on’ work will be carried out by more junior PPC specialists. While this isn't a bad thing (a good agency will ensure the work of junior team members is carried out to a set standard), when speaking to a potential PPC agency it’s important to ask them who will be working on your account day-to-day and ask about their experience level. 


Alternatively, a PPC freelancer is likely to have reached a senior level in a company or agency before deciding to go freelance. This means you have someone with a high level of skill carrying out the day-to-day work, as well as being your 'Account Manager'.


Expertise in your industry

A PPC agency will likely work with a wide range of industries and some will even specialise in a particular industry sectors. When an agency talks about their industry experience be sure to understand if the individuals with the relevant knowledge will be the ones assigned to your account.


A PPC freelancer may have worked in a particular sector before becoming a freelancer and chooses to specialise in this area. If a PPC freelancer has worked in an agency previously they will also benefit from having worked in a wide range of sectors. 


In either case, it's important to ask about specific industry experience when making your choice as this will always be advantageous. Both agencies and freelancers should be able to provide case studies or testimonials to support their proposal.


Relationship

The ways of working with a freelancer versus an agency is arguably the biggest differentiation.


A PPC agency will be juggling a large portfolio of clients. This means your account team might change (it's not uncommon for a new team to be assigned to your account every few months). The service can also feel less personal; your account manager may not always be available, team members come and go, and you'll need to fit into the agency's processes and schedule.


That said, the pros of working with an agency may include perks like invites to events and more face-to-face meetings in the agency’s office (as opposed to Zoom meetings).


Conversely, a PPC freelancer can offer a more personalised service. For a start, you'll always be in contact with the same person. A freelancer is likely to be more willing to fit their diary around you (freelancers have probably chosen freelance life to get away from the 9-5!) and they'll have a smaller portfolio of clients, meaning you won't feel like you're at the bottom of the priority list.


Cost

Perhaps the biggest consideration, especially for small businesses and SMEs... how much is a PPC agency or freelancer going to cost?


A PPC agency often has big overheads (an office, support staff, tech and business costs) and they need to pass those costs onto the client. Agencies typically operate on a fee-per-hour or fee-per-day rate which can stretch to £200+/hour or £1,000+/day for large agencies with the most experienced staff. 


If your business requires the support of a large team of people, or you’re looking for a wholesale solution for multiple digital marketing services, the price is justifiable. If not, a freelancer may be a better option.


Conversely a PPC freelancer has much lower overheads (most freelancers will work from a laptop at home or remotely), meaning they can offer much lower costs to their clients.


Another consideration here is contract length. Typically, agencies will ask for a 12-month commitment from clients whereas freelancers can be more flexible. A freelancer may ask for an initial 3-month commitment, then a monthly rolling contract afterward (this is how we operate at Elevate PPC).


In conclusion...

Both agencies and freelancers have their pros and cons. If you are looking exclusively for PPC management without additional services then the right PPC freelancer (with a high level of expertise and preferably some experience in your industry) will be an excellent choice.


If you are starting PPC advertising for the first time and want to ensure you can get a good return on your investment, a freelancer with lower fees and a shorter contract commitment would be advantageous while you test the water. There is always the option to move onto an agency at a later date if you require more services and have a larger budget for management.


 

To explore PPC management, working with a freelance PPC specialist with 12+ years experience and a Google Partner accreditation, check out PPC services from Elevate PPC or book a discovery call with Becky.

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