When it comes time to design and develop a new website, small businesses are faced with a choice: hire an agency or a freelance web developer? This can be a very difficult decision to make, 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 a freelance subcontractor. Provided the business takes the time to vet their pool of applicants thoroughly before hiring a subcontractor, there are plenty of benefits of working with freelance developers.
Freelance web developers are more cost effective.
Let’s face it: web development agencies can be costly! While many agencies do turn out a great product, they also face many overhead fees, such as employee salaries, benefits, 401K plans, office space, travel compensation, et cetera. Freelance web designers and programmers often work from home or a very small office and typically have very few overhead expenses, allowing them to charge rates much lower than those offered by agencies.
Many freelance designers and programmers have a diverse skill set.
To be sure, there are all different types of freelancers, and subcontractors’ experience levels can range from having decades of experience to being eager to do their first website. Experienced freelancers, however, are likely to have a diverse background which may include agency experience and knowledge of many different kinds of platforms. Subcontractors tend to diversify their skill sets in order to widen their client base, and a freelancer who has been developing websites for years is likely to have expertise in different code languages and platforms, such as PHP, CSS, WordPress and ecommerce-style websites. This provides their employers with flexible options for development and website capabilities.
Subcontractors often have access to a wide network of other freelancers.
If a freelance web developer has established him or herself as a successful subcontractor, it’s more than likely that they have developed relationships with other subcontractors whose specialties compliment their own. These partnerships allow freelancers to expand their capabilities to specialties outside their own by bringing other freelance team members on, if necessary. For example, a developer may specialize in programming but be able to offer graphic design through one of his or her partners. In this way, a small business may be able to get a full menu of graphic design, site design, search engine optimization and web development without having to go through an agency.
Tips for finding a great freelance web developer.
For every talented, experienced freelance developer “out there”, there are an equal number of inexperienced and unprofessional subcontractors. Telling the difference between these two types of subcontractors isn’t impossible, however, if you know what to look for. First, gather a wide pool of applicants from which to choose, and examine their resumes carefully. Be sure to ask to look at each subcontractor’s portfolio of completed projects; this is often the best way to tell what their capabilities and scope of experience truly are. Next, ask for references – and make contact with each one. Ask not only about the references’ completed projects, but how they felt about the subcontractor’s professionalism, billing and timely project completion.