When it comes time to design and develop a new website, small businesses face a choice: Hire an agency or a freelance web developer? This can be a very difficult decision, especially if you and your business are new to the web development process. While agency web development makes sense for many businesses, small businesses with tight marketing budgets can often get more for their money—not to mention a great product—by going with an independent subcontractor. Provided the business takes time to thoroughly vet their pool of applicants before hiring a subcontractor, there are plenty of benefits to working with independent developers.
Freelance web developers are more cost effective.
Let’s face it: web development agencies can be expensive! While many agencies offer a great product, they also face many general fees, such as employee salaries, benefits, 401k plans, office space, travel compensation, etc. Freelance web designers and programmers often work from home or in a very small office and usually have very few overheads, which allows them to charge far lower rates than those offered by agencies.
Many freelance designers and programmers possess a diverse skill set.
There are certainly different types of freelancers, and subcontractors’ experience levels can range from having decades of experience to being eager to build their first website. However, experienced freelancers are likely to have a diverse background that may include agency experience and knowledge of many different types of platforms. Subcontractors tend to diversify their skill sets in order to expand their client base, and a freelancer who has been developing websites for years is likely to have experience with different languages and code systems, such as PHP, CSS, WordPress, and e-commerce websites. This provides employers with flexible options for development and website capabilities.
Subcontractors often have access to an extensive network of self-employed workers.
If the freelance web developer has established himself as a successful subcontractor, he will likely have developed relationships with other subcontractors whose specialties complement theirs. These partnerships allow freelancers to expand their capabilities to include specialties outside of their purview by bringing in other freelance team members, if necessary. For example, a developer may specialize in programming but be able to offer graphic design through one of their partners. This way, a small business might be able to get a full slate of graphic design, website design, SEO, and web development without having to go through an agency.
Tips for finding a great freelance web developer.
For every talented and experienced freelance developer “out there,” there are an equal number of inexperienced and unprofessional subcontractors. However, knowing the difference between these two types of subcontractors is not impossible, if you know what to look for. First, gather a large pool of applicants to choose from, and carefully examine their resumes. Be sure to ask to see the portfolio of completed projects for each subcontractor; This is often the best way to really find out what their capabilities and scope of expertise are. Next, ask for references – and call each one. Don’t just ask about completed reference projects, but how you felt about the subcontractor’s professionalism, billing, and timely project completion.