Is it better to work for yourself or freelance for an agency?

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There is a lack of experienced Facebook Ads managers and businesses are crying out for help managing their ads budgets.

So, when you’ve put the work in, trained in managing Facebook Ads, scratched your head ALOT, checked stats, scribbled down new strategies and joined Facebook groups to pick up friends and allies in the Facebook Ads world… what is next?

It can seem like a minefield knowing where to start finding work as a Facebook Ads manager.

There are two main avenues most Facebook ads strategists can choose from and in this article, we'll look at the pros and cons of working directly with businesses or freelancing at agencies (also known as white-labelling).

Agencies can have a bad rep in the paid media world but they're not all bad and it can really depend on who you work with as to to the experience you will have.

Benefits of working with an agency:

#1 Money

A skilled Facebook Ads Strategist can charge a very healthy fee and working for ad agencies can be extremely lucrative. You will have to negotiate your fee, and most agencies will ask for a day or even hourly rate.

We all know that Facebook Ads can't be managed effectively in a day or hour so even when working with an agency we would recommend a monthly rate – if they know that's the best way to get good results for their clients, and therefore keep them happy and paying, most agencies will agree to this.

Top tip: Be sure to understand the ad budget you’ll be expected to manage. The
bigger the account, the more work you’ll have, so the higher your fee should be.

#2 No direct selling

Not all of us are born sales people and if the thought of having to pitch yourself for
new business seems like a drag, working for an agency could be the ideal solution.

If you work for an agency, you are handed the clients to work with. This can be a blessing and a curse. You’re lucky if they’re easy going. You’re stuck with them if they’re not.

#3 Access to Facebook Support:

Many larger agencies will have their own dedicated account manager for every social media platform they are advertising on. This can be a game-changer when changes are announced or if something is disabled as they are on hand to help resolve things quickly – a luxury many independent freelancers won't have access to.

There are, of course, downsides to working for agencies, too, including the fact that you can't pick your clients.

There is the argument that if you don’t like working at an agency because of the clients you cover, you can leave. The reality is, it’s unlikely you will ever just cover one account so, if you cover 5 accounts with one ‘challenging’ client, some would find it difficult to walk away.

Big disclaimer: Not all agencies are created equal!

Depending on the agency you work with, you may inherit an account with little information available at handover. If it is performing well, that might not be such a big issue, however, if you inherit an account that’s struggling, not having the full picture of what has been tested before and the previous communication with the client can be stressful and make your work trickier.

Best practice varies hugely between agencies. It can take a while to understand how an agency wants things done and you could feel obliged to follow these
practices, even if you don't agree with them.

When working with an agency you could either be brought in as the Facebook Ads expert and head up their paid social team, which brings lots of pressure to perform with varying levels of support, or you might be brought in to execute pre-determined campaigns which you would simply build following their strategy.

Top tip: Ask for as much detail as possible when interviewing so you understand how much influence you will have on campaigns and how much interaction you will have with the clients.

Managing your own clients as a Facebook Ads Manager

The alternative is, of course, working with your own book of clients and that comes with huge benefits, the biggest of which is that you are your own boss, which means:

#1 You are in charge

That means you have the power to turn nightmare clients away (and you should!)

 #2 No cap on your earnings (kinda)

You can charge your clients a monthly retainer fee and therefore earn based
on the value you contribute to your client rather than exchanging set hours
for money (capping your earning potential).

Of course, you only have a limited amount of time and capacity yourself, so if you want to scale your income, you may end up creating your own agency-style business.

#3 Autonomy

You have full autonomy of strategy, structure and optimisations (flip side:
there's also nowhere to hide)

#4 Your time is your own!

This can be the biggest pro for lots of ads strategists. As long as you communicate your availability with your clients, your schedule is your own.  There will be times you work a full day, there will be times everything is flying and the hours are less intense. And not being tied to your desk 9-5 (or later!) is the dream right?

There are obviously downsides too including…

#1 You need to sell!

Without agency clients being handed over to you, you need to be constantly marketing yourself and demonstrating your expertise to maintain your book of clients.

This can be tiring and hard to manage if you are not a natural salesperson
or if you are really busy, it can drop to the bottom of your priorities.

#2 There is no guaranteed income

As with any business owner, you do not have a guaranteed monthly income. This is tied strongly to the need to constantly promote yourself. Clients may have a change of circumstance and give notice. Having a strong pipeline is something that all freelancers juggle.

Note: This also applies to freelancers at agencies where you are often brought in to cover certain projects or cover staff absence. IR35 is likely to bring an end to freelancers being able to take indefinite freelance contracts at agencies.

The verdict

As with all business decisions, there are pros and cons to both working in-house at an agency or going it alone and winning your own clients. Most ad strategists will
decide based on personal preference and personal circumstances.

Which path you choose to go down will depend on your own circumstances, and maybe a mixture of both might be even better.

Written by Aggie Meroni
Facebook Ads Strategist
CEO & Founder, White Bee Digital


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