When hiring a website developer, you have two options: Go with a custom development agency or choose a freelancer.
With the abundance of freelancers out there, you might opt for the latter. But before you do, make sure you know the advantages and disadvantages.
In this article, I will give you the pros and cons of hiring a freelance website developer.
What are Freelance Website Developers?
Freelance web developers are self-employed web developers. They specialize in developing websites just like any web developer, but they operate independently. They work for multiple clients and often take on several projects at a time. Freelance web developers enjoy a lot of flexibility. They can work for clients in person or online, and they can work from home or remotely.
Of course, freelancing is not unique to web development. In the US, there are more than 56.7 million freelance workers. They make up roughly 40 percent of the American workforce. Coupling the flexibility of freelancing with the growing demand for web development makes for an attractive career choice. No wonder there are so many freelance web developers to choose from. And the number of freelance web developers is growing.
Why is Web Development Important?
These days, a good website is essential to any business. Your website is the face of your company, your online storefront. It is the first thing potential clients will see when researching your business.
In addition to being the face of your company, your website should do the following:
- Your website should clearly communicate your company mission, goals, products and services to your target audience. This can be done on your website’s pages or a dedicated blog.
- Your website should show that you are a reliable expert in your field. Your credibility will be judged on your website’s design, content, and functions. Your website should instill confidence and trust in your business.
- Your website should expand your online presence and reach. Great content and web design will expand your exposure to users around the world. It will increase your organic traffic.
Pros and Cons of Hiring a Freelance Web Developer
Before you rule out working with a web development agency, be aware of the pros and cons of hiring a freelance web developer. Below I will outline the pros, followed by the cons:
Pros of a Freelance Web Developer
- Lower cost. Price is a major factor in any hiring decision. When it comes to freelance web developers, they generally come at a lower cost. This has many reasons:
- There is a surplus of freelance web developers. Free market competition leads to lower prices as freelancers compete for your business by trying to undersell one another. They set their own rates, and their rates are flexible. But know that if you always go with the lowest price, you may not get the quality you want. So make sure price is not your only criteria.
- Freelancers don’t require benefits. You don’t need to help fund their health insurance or retirement savings. You also don’t need to pay them for overtime work or recognize statutory holidays. You don’t need to provide office space and supplies. Freelancers come without many of the typical employee costs.
- Freelancers waste less time. Instead of paying them an hourly rate or a salary, you pay them for the work they actually do. As a result, they waste less time than they might in a traditional office setting, where they are paid the same either way.
- Flexibility. Because they can choose their own work hours, freelance web developers are more flexible when it comes to their schedules. If you have a project with a pressing deadline, a freelancer is better suited to get it done than an agency that only operates within regular business hours. Freelance web developers can accommodate different project management timelines and contract lengths. Flexibility is part of the service they provide.
- Around the clock communication. Because freelancer web developers do not show up to a physical workplace, they can be available around the clock. That is not to say they don’t set hours for when they are off work, but many are on call. They respond when needed. Knowing you can reach out to them in an emergency or when you simply want a project update can be a huge benefit.
- Less Space. You don’t need to provide office space for a freelance web developer. They often work from home or remotely through the internet. This means you can have a whole team of freelancer web developers without ever needing them to be in one place. That is the beauty of online collaboration. Freeing up space not only lowers website development costs but declutters the work environment for everyone involved.
- Expertise. Freelance web developers often specialize in a narrow field within web development. As a result, they are really good at what they do. While an agency might offer more comprehensive web development, it may not be the best at a particular function. Freelancers, on the other hand, are typically very good at what they do. They can fill a temporary skills gap. If you have a simple task but lack the necessary skill set, find a freelancer who is an expert in that area.
- Hands-off. Because freelance web developers are self-sufficient, you do not need to provide for their training, management, or constant supervision. In addition to the cost savings, this will save you a lot of unnecessary stress. Make sure to give clear instructions and expectations. Then sit back and let the freelancer do the job. They will come to you if they have any questions.
- Easy to find. There are so many freelance web developers out there that you won’t have trouble finding one. Several freelance websites like Guru, Upwork, and Toptal are marketplaces where you can connect with freelancers. Just make sure you properly vet the freelancer for quality. Not all freelance web developers are equal.
- Require Less commitment. Because freelancers are hired on a project basis, you are not committed to working with them long-term. If you are not satisfied with their work, simply don’t hire them for the next project. Contracts that rest on the completion of a project are short-term by nature. If the freelancer does not complete the project in a timely manner, it will be their loss when you don’t hire them again. That said, if you do like a freelancer’s work, you can hire them regularly. Either way, your commitment is minimal.
The benefits of hiring a freelance web developer are obvious. Especially if your business is just starting out, a freelancer might be the way to go. But be aware of the cons, too. Below is a list of the disadvantages of hiring a freelance web developer:
Cons of a Freelance Web Developer
Hiring a freelance web developer always comes with some risk. You never know if they won’t disappear one day. While you can build some security into your contract by paying only after the project is completed, you cannot guarantee that a freelancer won’t walk away from it for whatever reason. Because you don’t see them day in and day out, there is less accountability. One way to minimize this risk is to look for positive reviews by the freelancer’s past clients. Many freelance websites have this feature built in. If you cannot find any past reviews, you may want to keep looking.
- Less Committed. Often, freelance web developers care less about the project than an agency might. This is especially true if it is a one-off project. People tend to give less effort without the expectation of a long-term relationship. That said, freelance web developers might work extra hard to earn your business in the future. Generally speaking though, a freelancer is rarely as committed to the project as you are because they are not a permanent part of your company.
- Harder to manage. Because freelance web developers are not permanent to your team, they can be harder to manage. Without an office manager to oversee projects in person, you have to manage from afar. This gets harder the more freelancers you have working for you. It’s not impossible, but it is difficult. Just encourage open communication to keep a pulse on your project’s progress. Ultimately, proper management will always be a challenge with short-term freelance web developers.
- Narrow skill set. Freelance web developers often can’t handle all aspects of a project. Instead, they specialize in certain areas. This can be a benefit when you only need one task completed. But if you are looking to outsource an entire project, a freelancer may not be enough. They might not be able to meet all your specific guidelines or might not have the right skill set. In this case, an agency or a team of freelancers might be better suited.
- Fewer Resources. Freelance web developers are self-employed. As a single person, they have limited resources available to them. A development agency, on the other hand, has more access to software, training, and personnel, all of which optimize workflow. A solo freelancer won’t always have all of these.
- Unreliable communication. Since freelance web developers don’t work in a traditional office, they may not communicate during regular business hours. Their availability may be inconsistent. Or you may have to wait a long time for a response. Ideally, freelancers will tell you when they are available, but without a regular schedule, you cannot count on a timely response.
- No ongoing support after project completion. Once the project is complete, freelance web developers are no longer bound to their contract. If questions or glitches come up later, you could be on your own. You could offer them another contract to help solve the issue, but they are not obligated to accept the offer. In this case, you would need to hire a new developer unfamiliar with the project to fix it. And without the proper background knowledge, a new developer will need more time to understand the previous developer’s programming. This can be toilsome and costly.
Weigh the pros and cons of hiring a freelance web developer carefully. What works for you will depend on your budget and preferred work style. See the chart below to review how freelancers compare to a development company:
The larger and more long-term your project, the more you may want to consider a development agency. They are known for their long-term reliability, stability, and seamless management. Often, they take personal pride in your project as it reflects on their company name. They are best suited for big projects and startups.
Still, you can always opt for a freelance web developer instead. Just know that they come with some added risk even if they are the cheaper option. Ultimately, it is up to you.
Market for Freelance Website Developers
The market for freelance website developers is growing. The number of web developers in the U.S. is expected to reach 188,300 by 2029, a growth rate of 8 percent from 2019 to 2029. With that kind of growth, you can be sure there will be freelance web developers available to hire for the indefinite future.
Whether you need help with a small project or you are simply interested in outsourcing some web development, a freelance web developer might be the solution. After all, freelancers are expected to make up 43% of the workforce by 2020. So you won’t have trouble finding one. The trick is to find the right freelancer.
Working with Dev.co
If you decide to go with a proven web design team, dev.co has you covered. We help optimize your website’s navigation and content so that it gets maximum online traffic. We can improve your existing website or help you make a new one from scratch. Either way, we will help make your business more profitable with the right website.
Tell us about your project and see how we can enhance and design your website with high search visibility, mobile-friendly design, secure data transmission, fast loading speed, and clear calls to action (CTAs). Don’t hesitate to contact us today to get started.