I am planning to launch an online agency that offers creative design, branding and press release writing as well as marketing consulting. While as a Marketing professional I can easily cover the management and consultancy part, I believe that i need to outsource other services such as creative design. I have the following questions: 1- Should I hire graphic designers and writers from the beginning? or deal with freelancers? 2- If I deal with freelancers what payment structure do you recommend? 3- Should I hire freelancers to be affiliated with me all the time, or facilitate communication between the clients and freelancers and take a commission from each job? 4. Should I disclose the freelance designers names or keep it all under my name? I'm concerned about quality and business continuity. This business model is still unexplored in my region and I will be offering services that are not offered on other websites.
Hey - I have been in creative client services for most of my career, ranging from running global strategy for fortune 500 companies to building websites for tiny non-profits. Hope these thoughts are helpful:
Use freelancers as much as possible until you get your feet under you. The main reason: no fixed costs to drain your cash during down months.
That being said, try to get one partner/hire early on who can pitch in across a number of categories - marketing, design, development, project management. It helps having a friend, and having another committed person can help scale/stretch drastically.
Present as a cohesive company, but don't be afraid to expose your financials to clients. This has been a selling point for me: "World class talent without paying for overhead" is attractive to clients.
Do fixed fee 99% of the time. No hourly.
Process is everything. All these services are so commoditized these days, that great customer service and a clear process can go a long way.
I would be in charge of the client relationship almost all of the time if you can. But, I would need to know more about your company. Generally speaking, relationships are the most valuable asset you have in creative services.
Hope that helps!