If you’re a freelance writer, chances are you’ve seen job postings or heard about freelance writing for an agency as opposed to going it on your own. Digital marketing agencies usually look for remote copywriters to produce web content and blog posts for their clients. This practice is good for the agency, as it’s usually much cheaper to hire freelancers than to have an in-house writing team. But is it good for the writers as well?
Before you apply to an agency’s writing position, there are some pros and cons to consider. Here’s what you need to know.
The Drawbacks of Agency Work
Your agency experience will largely depend on whether the company itself is trustworthy and reliable as well as how they’ve built their business model. There are some unscrupulous agencies out there that will try to take advantage of their freelance writers, especially if those writers are relatively new in their careers. Here are some things to beware of when considering agency work.
- Pay is often much lower than you can negotiate on your own. Agencies are looking out for their bottom line. They make more of a profit when they pay you less. Often, agencies pay close to minimum wage which isn’t enough for most people to live on. Unless you’re very experienced, it’s hard to make a lot of money at an agency.
- It’s harder to guard your hours. Even with part-time agency work, you’re often expected to be online at the same time as the rest of the team. This helps the agency in case there are any last-minute requests. It can be hard to sign off at the end of the day if there’s still work to be done, leading to pressure to work overtime.
- You have little or no say in the work itself. Marketing agencies might take on a variety of clients in different industries, even ones you’re not interested in. With what I call the “lone wolf” freelance option, where you’re not working with a middle-man agency but finding gigs on your own, you have more opportunities to seek out niches you want to write about and pitch to those clients.
- Agencies can be incredibly fast-paced. Agencies often must turn content around on a tight deadline. You may only have a day or two to produce the work they need, which doesn’t allow for a lot of editing time. To succeed at an agency, you must have a keen eye for detail and be able to produce high-quality work on a limited schedule.
Benefits of Writing for Agencies
On the flip side, there are plenty of agencies out there that would be great to work for. Plenty of writers choose that path. Ethical agencies can be a great way for writers to bring in a regular paycheck. Here are a few of the unique benefits of writing for an agency:
- The work is consistent. Freelancing can be unpredictable and you’ll need to spend a significant chunk of time pitching new clients and/or applying to job posts to guarantee a reliable stream of income. Agency work tends to be much more stable, with a set number of articles you’re expected to do each week or hours you can expect to work.
- You’ll get paid on time. Freelancers often face late payments or need to chase down clients when their invoices go unpaid. Agencies are much more likely to pay on a set schedule like an office job would.
- Agencies handle client communication. When you work for an agency, you rarely have to interact with a client one-on-one. This cuts down on time responding to emails and allows you more time to write.
- It’s a great way to gain experience. For those just starting out in the world of freelance writing, working for an agency will allow you to produce a lot of content, often across multiple platforms, to build a diverse portfolio of work. You can use that throughout your career as you move on to pitching clients later on.
Is Freelance Writing for an Agency Right for You?
Whether agency work is right for you depends on what you’re currently looking for in your career. If you’re a newer freelancer, agency work can allow you to produce a large volume of work for a future portfolio while providing steady work and a consistent pay schedule.
However, freelance writing is a competitive field; many agencies know they can get away with paying you much less than you could negotiate on your own. If you’re more well-established as a writer and have plenty of experience to help you land clients, you can make significantly more without tying yourself to an agency.
Still, the consistent work and regular pay from agency work is attractive even to writers who are further along in their careers. Unsurprisingly, there are exceptions to all of the cons listed above. If the reliability of agency work appeals to you, it’s worth looking around to see if you can find one that will allow you to work the way you want.
There are pros and cons to client work and agency work alike. Ultimately, the path you take depends on what you want to get out of your writing career. No matter which you choose, you can eventually turn a significant profit by freelance writing from wherever in the world you are.
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