agency vs in-house

In-House vs. Freelancer vs. Agency: Who Should You Hire to Run Your Social Media?

Struggling to manage your brand’s social media?

You’re not alone.

Deciding between an in-house manager, a freelancer, or an agency can be tricky. Each option has its pros and cons, and the right choice depends on your specific needs and budget. You don’t want to get stuck paying someone to put your brand in a Commodity Content Trap or someone who disregards social media pillars altogether.

Let’s break it down. 👇

In-House Social Media Manager


  • Brand Immersion: An in-house social media manager lives and breathes your brand. They understand your company culture and can align social media strategies with your overall business goals.
  • Immediate Collaboration: Being on-site allows for easy communication and quick responses to emerging trends or issues.


  • Resource Intensive: Hiring full-time means a significant investment in salary, benefits, and ongoing training. According to Indeed, the average salary for a social media manager is around $58,266 per year, not including benefits.
  • Potential Burnout: One person may struggle to cover all aspects of social media, from strategy and content creation to engagement and analytics.

Freelance Social Media Manager


  • Cost-Effective Flexibility: Freelancers offer a more budget-friendly option and can be scaled up or down based on your needs. Hourly rates range from $50 to $125, making them a viable option for smaller projects or seasonal campaigns. Freelancers may also charge a flat retainer, ranging from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the services needed.
  • Specialized Skills: You can find freelancers with specific expertise for particular projects or platforms.


  • Limited Availability: Freelancers often juggle multiple clients, which might lead to delays.
  • Less Integration: They might not be as deeply integrated into your brand’s ethos and operations as an in-house manager.
  • Juggle Different Freelancers: If you go the freelancer route you may be forced to manage/juggle different freelancer work/schedules. No one freelancer will have all the skills needed to run a social account.



  • Diverse Expertise: Agencies bring a team of specialists to the table, offering a broad range of skills from content creation and strategy to analytics and paid advertising.
  • Scalability and Resources: With more resources, agencies can handle large campaigns and provide comprehensive social media management. Depending on the scope of work, the average monthly cost for an agency ranges from $3,000 to $10,000.


  • Higher Costs: Partnering with an agency can be a significant investment, similar to hiring a full-time employee.
  • Potentially Less Personal: Agencies juggle multiple clients, so you might not get the same level of personal attention as with an in-house manager or freelancer.

Why a Boutique Agency Might Be the Sweet Spot

When weighing your options, a boutique agency can offer a compelling balance. You get the expertise and resources of an agency combined with the personalized attention typically associated with freelancers or in-house staff.

Here’s how:

Customized Strategies: Boutique agencies excel at developing tailored strategies that reflect your brand’s unique voice and goals. They work closely with you to create content that resonates with your audience and stands out in the crowded social media landscape.

Dedicated Team: You’ll have a dedicated team of experts who understand your brand and can pivot quickly to respond to trends or crises. This team approach ensures that all aspects of your social media are handled with care and expertise.

Seamless Integration: Think of a boutique agency as an extension of your team. They integrate seamlessly into your operations, providing the consistency and alignment you’d expect from an in-house manager with the added benefit of diverse expertise.

Making the Decision

Ultimately, the right choice depends on your brand’s specific needs, goals, and budget. Here’s a quick recap:

  • In-House: Best for brands needing deep integration and immediate collaboration. Expect to invest around $58,266 annually, plus benefits and employer taxes.
  • Freelance: Ideal for smaller budgets or specific project needs with flexible terms. Hourly rates typically range from $50 to $125. Retainers usually start at $1,500.
  • Agency: Perfect for comprehensive, scalable social media management with access to diverse expertise. Monthly costs can range from $3,000 to $10,000.

Consider what matters most to your brand and how each option aligns with your objectives. Whichever path you choose, the goal is to enhance your social media presence and drive meaningful engagement with your audience.


P.S. If you want to connect on social media, where I share tips throughout the week, follow me on X (Twitter) or Linkedin.

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