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Video Content Agency vs. Freelance. What’s the difference?

It’s no secret that video content is king. Its integration plays a key role and touches almost every part of the marketing process. As far as adoption, businesses remain scattered along the curve in terms of implementation and understanding. There are plenty of options out there. Most video production companies and freelancers claim to be storytellers that produce high end content. If we’re honest, that reality applies to very few. I compare that assertion to the days when everyone claimed to be a social media expert.

If you’re a company looking to get serious about video — where do you turn? Video Content Agency or Freelance? It’s a valid question with valid points associated with each. Within this blog, I do my best to provide an objective view on a series of points that matter when making the choice of who to hire. I’ve been on both sides.

As more companies get in the game, quality matters more than ever. One way to separate yourself is to create compelling content that looks great. That fact remains a differentiator and is a natural place to start the comparison.

Quality

Freelance:

Quality in this scenario will be hit or miss. Some freelancers produce solid content. However, you’re rolling the dice. There are plenty of quick response freelancers who are happy to show up and capture your next event. The finished product varies in terms of overall look and story composition. You might hit a home run, but that’s non-guaranteed.

Agency:

An experienced agency has a team behind it. Quality controls are part of the process. A solid agency reviews the work internally before sending along to the partner. Storytelling is less of a buzzword and more of a reality. There should be limited surprises when it comes to the final product.

Collective Braintrust

Freelance:

A one-person-shop has one or two people at their disposal. They take on the responsibilities of thinking, executing and editing. If they’re in demand, they likely won’t have time to effectively talk strategy or offer guidance in the area of distribution. There’s only so much you can do with limited resources.

Agency:

An experienced agency has been built with intentionality so that it can offer in-depth services when it comes to strategy, creation, distribution and education. Education is a key component. It’s important to convey to your partners why something is important and how the process works.

Responsiveness 

Freelance:

If you’re like everyone else, you crave instant gratification. We all expect a response to an email even when we send it in the middle of the night. A freelancer might struggle to effectively communicate when juggling multiple jobs. There is no one else in the office when they’re on a shoot or entranced in an edit.

Agency:

For the top agencies, responsiveness is a core value. It goes a long way in ensuring top-notch service. More resources allow for more eyes, ears and mouths to communicate. If someone is out of the office, responsibility is delegated to someone else on the team. This holds true for editing as well. Tweaks are made at a more rapid pace.

Reactive vs. Strategic

Freelance:

A freelancer might have an advantage when it comes to short notice and availability. However, this varies as well. I stand by the thought that a solid freelancer has limited bandwidth and will proceed with a reactive approach. The nature of the freelance beast lends itself to a “show up and shoot” mentality.

Agency:

On the flip side, an agency operates with a strategic mindset. A creative brainstorm with the partner coupled with internal sessions ensure that the intricacies of the message are front and center. This is vital when it comes to postproduction and the edit. It leads to greater efficiency.

True Partnership 

Freelance:

It’s not that freelancers aren’t true partners. Their struggle comes with spreading themselves across multiple projects at the same time. Freelancers also might struggle to get the story right because of their inability to spend ample time on the front-end of the project. This leads to more guidance than necessary from the partner and leads to frustration.

Agency:

An agency built to tell stories understands the whole process. They have the ability to sit with the partner and then go execute. The first draft of the video should be close to the final version. A video content agency brings the partners vision to life and alleviates any stress associated with the process.

Cost

What’s it cost? I want to paint this point with a broad brush. It’s listed last for a reason because it shouldn’t be the first thing you consider when looking for a video partner. If it is, you might need to re-evaluate your marketing strategy.

I know it’s a big deal for most businesses. I’m a small business owner that evaluates cost every day, so I get it. I’m merely suggesting that cost should be considered after you evaluate the body of work and team that you’re considering. Don’t let it be a conversation stopper. There might be flexibility in that area.

As far overall cost, freelancers don’t play in the same ballpark. Video content agencies come with a much higher price tag. As a buyer, it comes down to whether you think a team of experienced subject matter experts who deliver a likely outcome are worth the investment or whether you’d rather take a chance. I’d love to tell you which way I lean.

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