Kara-Marie sent me a request for a newsletter that talks about the pros and cons of working with content and marketing agencies. I’m very happy to oblige!
If you haven’t considered pitching healthcare content or marketing agencies, you are missing out on way to establish a consistent monthly revenue stream. Many people don’t realize that agencies often don’t write everything in-house; they contract with freelancers all the time to help with specific projects – and they very often value freelancers like nurses, with deep subject matter expertise.
Working with agencies can be an excellent way to get your freelance business established, but there definitely are pros and cons to this approach.
Benefits of Working with Agencies
The first benefit of working with an agency is that they do all the client acquisition work. Working with an agency eliminates the need for you to market incessantly to individual clients. You’ll still have to send LOIs to agencies, but for many novice writers that feels less intimidating because you know that agencies field LOIs all the time, so it may feel less awkward to connect with them. And, frequently, once you’re “in” with an agency and demonstrate your ability to produce great content on deadline, then they’ll give you a steady stream of work over the long haul.
Another benefit to working with agencies is they usually have highly structured processes in place for working with freelance writers (and every segment of the client service process, to be honest). When you solicit an individual client, you sort of have to make up your procedures as you go – which can be challenging when you’re first starting out and don’t really know “how all this works.” By working with an agency, you get an inside peek at workflows, which is knowledge you can subsequently adapt for working one-on-one with clients.
When you work with an agency, your content usually receives top-notch editing. This allows you to hone your craft and also to get over that prickly feeling that arises when you’re asked to revise your writing. You’ll also gain experience writing to the voice and tone of different clients, which, again, is valuable knowledge you can use as you move into serving clients directly.
Finally, agencies give you the opportunity to write many, many different types of content. Full-service marketing agencies offer everything from advertising copy to video scripts to their clients, and you may be called upon at any time to write any of those different types of assets.
Cons of Working with Agencies
All of that said, working with content agencies isn’t all rainbows and kittens. If it were, everyone would pursue only that type of client.
The biggest drawback to working with clients through an agency usually is the pay rate. Because the agency takes its cut of the writing fee, you often make less working with an agency than you would bill a client if you were serving them directly. That said, this is not always the case. I have worked with agencies that paid more per deliverable than I think I could have billed on my own.
Usually, however, that’s not the case. In most cases you can expect to receive 30-50% less per deliverable than you could make if you were billing a client directly. Consider, though, that you also don’t have to invest as much time in marketing and possibly can count on a steady income stream from an agency. When evaluating an agency rate, ask yourself if it all balances out in the long run.
Another con to working with agencies lies in the dreaded “editing by committee.” Like I said, you’ll definitely get edited when working with an agency – and very often you’ll get edited multiple times by multiple groups (including the end client). This can drag down your effective hourly rate. And simply drive you batty.
Lastly, don’t count on being able to use your work as a clip when it’s produced through an agency. Agency contracts often include non-disclosure agreements that don’t allow you to even name a client, let alone publish a link to anything you wrote for them. This is especially true if you’re ghostwriting content for an end-client.
Then again, I’ve sometimes asked my contact at an agency if I could use a particular item as a clip, and they were happy to give me permission. Some of them have even emailed me completed deliverables, like a white paper, with an invitation to share it with prospects. Bottom line: it never hurts to ask.
So that’s the pros and cons of working with agencies. Is this something you’d consider doing? Have you done it? If so, what pros and cons did you encounter?