Should You White-Label Your Freelance Services To An Agency?

2020-07-23

As a freelancer, you have two main ways of working with clients. You can work directly with businesses, or indirectly by having an agency funnel you work.

When you work with an agency it’s common for them to ‘white-label‘ your services. This means that you’re doing the work under their brand as if you’re an in-house employee yet you’re still a freelance contractor.

I do currently get some work from agency owners, which means I’m effectively white-labeling my services. Honestly, it can be a steady stream of work and worth it so long as they’re willing to pay a decent rate.

Just be careful for those trying to get you to do a bunch of free work upfront to ‘prove yourself’ and watch out for those trying to lowball you on price.

I came across this situation recently. It was an agency that serves other agency owners that want to outsource their client’s SEO and web design. So an agency for agencies if you will.

The problem with this company is that they had razor-thin profit margins, which means they couldn’t afford to pay much for top tier talent. They typically outsourced as much as possible to India or the Philippines.

It’s still my preference to work directly with businesses since you’re able to set the expectations directly and there’s no communication barrier. No middle-man.

I haven’t always had the best experiences with agency owners.

They seem to place all the focus on sales and customer service (i.e. ‘schmoozing’) yet forget that you need to be able to ‘walk the walk’ if you’re going to ‘talk the talk’, and achieving ‘results’ is not easy to come by. ‘Results’ are always hard-fought. You can’t just outsource everything to the cheapest talent and expect everything to work out.

In the long run, I think you’re better off focusing on selling your services directly to businesses via your website. Yes, you may have to learn sales and more customer service skills but they will pay for themselves 100 fold.

Imagine having your own source of leads and customers that nobody can cut off from you.

The better you get at building demand for your services directly from your own website, the more you’ll be able to raise your rates. If you rely on an agency to feed you work, they’ll eventually try taking advantage of this by attempting to negotiate your pricing down overtime.

They know that if you’re already spending 30-40 hours on their accounts that you probably don’t have another source of work and that they’d likely be able to negotiate prices down.