Illustration comparing freelancer, virtual assistant, and marketing agency. A freelancer works alone on a laptop, a marketing team collaborates around a computer to devise a marketing strategy, and a virtual assistant works remotely

Marketing Agency vs Freelancer vs Virtual Assistant: Which Do You Need for Your Next Big Thing?

Picture this. You are a subject matter expert and business owner who has resolved that this is going to be the year that you go big with something in your firm. Maybe it’s infusing your digital marketing strategy with a new content format, like video. Maybe it’s aligning your business development efforts around a new vertical that you know has great growth potential and is a perfect match between what you offer and what that type of client needs. Maybe it’s to revamp, refresh, or completely redo your website, which you know is outdated and not attracting the clients you want to serve. 

Whatever the IT is, it’s been on your mind for quite a while and you really want to put it in motion…but you can’t seem to move it from that sticky note or task list where it’s been residing for way longer than you’d care to admit. It just keeps getting put on the back burner as a “yea, I need to get to that” project until at some point, you concede that you are, in fact, not going to get it done, at least not on your own.   

Your lingering inaction on something that can change your business for the better may have been a topic of conversation with other business owners. In those conversations, which I have been a party to myself many times, you were probably advised that you do not, in fact, have to do this BIG thing on your own and more to the point, that you shouldn’t! 

Perhaps you were told, “You need to hire a freelancer for that, or a marketing firm for that, or a virtual assistant for that!” That may have been quickly followed with a sentiment to the effect of, “I hired my virtual assistant last year and my life has never been the same…in XYZ amazing ways.”

And I agree! If you want to push that next big thing in your business and just cannot seem to get it done, you need help. The question is, how do you decide which of those assets you need to accomplish your specific goals?

Here’s a way to think it through. Let’s look at each of these asset options (virtual assistant, freelancer, and marketing agency) in terms of cost, oversight, and solutions offered, progressing from the cheapest and most tactical to the most expensive and most strategic…from someone who you are telling what to do to someone who is advising you.

Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistants (VAs) are a very popular pick to help business owners achieve and produce more, especially when they are scaling. VAs have a broad base of knowledge and could be considered a jack or jill of all trades. They can get a ton of things done for you and they are super responsive but they likely don’t have a strong depth of expertise in any one area. You will tell them exactly what you need them to do and then they will do it. Voila!

Virtual assistants are the cheapest asset solution for your business but they require heavy oversight from you. VAs provide tactical solutions, helping you get tasks off your plate and done efficiently. For example, your VA can tee up a series of emails you wrote or perhaps even assist with writing an email template but they are not going to be the person who can tell you if email is actually the best solution for what you are trying to accomplish. 


There can be quite a bit of overlap between a virtual assistant and a freelancer, however the freelancer you choose to help you affect a big change in your business will have a level of expertise in a particular area, such as email marketing, marketing strategy, search engine optimization, or copywriting. They will have strategic knowledge in one particular vertical. This is one person you will hire to come up with solutions for your big goal and put them in motion. 

A freelancer is typically more costly than a virtual assistant because they offer both tactical and strategic solutions in a specialized area and require less oversight in delivering the work. 

Marketing Agency

A marketing agency is the highest cost asset and requires little to no oversight on your part. (If you’re having to direct the work of your marketing agency and not the other way around, we should talk.) This asset is not just one person, but a team of people who each bring their own subject matter knowledge and experience to the agency to serve your business in a broad, highly strategic way. With an agency, you are leveraging lots of expertise in a much more hands off way. 

Collaboration is of course, paramount to success when working with an agency so it’s not as if this type of engagement requires no involvement from you at all. But with an agency, you are relying on the team to proactively seek input from you, asking questions and keeping up with relevant happenings in your business that they will then use to steer strategies they create and execute. 

The Bottom Line

If you know exactly what you want and what you need, and how to accomplish that need, a freelancer or a virtual assistant is the right hire. For individual tasks and projects (you want a 6 email funnel, to promote a specific service, for example or someone to take on the task of monitoring your info email inbox) you want an individual person. But If you’re ready to turn up the heat and create an overall marketing strategy and vision and have a whole team there to support you, you’re ready for a marketing agency. If that resonates with you, we happen to be a really amazing one that is ready to serve.