When it comes to designing and developing 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 company 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 a lot more — not to mention a great product — by working with freelance subcontractors. There are many benefits to working with freelance developers if companies take the time to thoroughly research their applicants before hiring a subcontractor.
Freelance web developers are more cost effective.
Let’s face it: web development agencies can be expensive! While many agencies offer great products, they also deal with a lot of overheads, such as employee salaries, benefits, 401K plans, office space, travel expenses, and more. Freelance web designers and programmers usually work from home or very small offices and often have little overhead, allowing them to command much lower rates than agencies offer.
Many freelance designers and programmers have different skills.
To be sure, there are all kinds of different types of freelancers, and subcontractors can have experience levels ranging from decades of experience to eager to build their first website. However, experienced freelancers can come from a variety of backgrounds, including agency experience and knowledge of many different types of platforms. Subcontractors tend to diversify their skill set to expand their client base, while freelancers who have been developing websites for years may have expertise in a variety of coding languages and platforms, such as PHP, CSS, WordPress, and ecommerce-style websites. This provides their employers with flexible options for development and website functionality.
Subcontractors often have access to an extensive network of other freelancers.
If freelance web developers have established themselves as successful subcontractors, chances are they already have relationships with other subcontractors whose expertise matches theirs. These partnerships allow freelancers to expand their capabilities beyond their own area of expertise by bringing in other freelance team members as needed. For example, a developer might specialize in programming but be able to provide graphic design through one of his or her partners. This way, small businesses get a full menu of graphic design, website design, SEO, and web development without going through an agency.
Tips for finding a great freelance web developer.
For every talented and experienced freelance developer, there are as many inexperienced as unprofessional subcontractors. However, it is not impossible to differentiate between the two types of subcontractors if you know what to look for. First, select from a large pool of candidates and carefully review their resumes. Make sure you are allowed to see each subcontractor’s portfolio of completed projects; this is often the best way to get an idea of their true abilities and experience. Then ask for references – and get in touch with everyone. Ask not only which projects the referee has completed, but also what he thinks of the professionalism of the subcontractor, the invoicing and the timely completion of the project.