How to Scale your Agency’s Production with Freelancers

As a successful design agency, clients come to you when they need dedicated support for their most important creative initiatives—but what happens when client demand outweighs your supply?

It’s a good problem to have, but winning more (and more complex) projects can make it hard to deliver the same high-quality work your clients expect. To expand your bandwidth and fill gaps, you need to scale your own business in a flexible way—and freelancers can help.

Megan Groves, Founder of InterimCMO, notes, “As the future of work takes shape in the hands of freelancers, agencies are harnessing the power of an on-demand, needs-focused approach to hiring.” And to her point, thousands of agencies tap freelancers on Upwork to scale their teams when and how they need.

Wondering how freelancers can help your agency scale production and continue growing your client roster? Read on.

Ramp production up and down as your needs fluctuate

Clients come to you because you’re fast, focused, and deliver high-quality results—but it can be difficult to meet those expectations, especially when you can’t always predict when demand will spike. This makes freelancers an ideal solution.

Zach Weismann, founder and CEO of the MAG Impact Collective, writes, “[There’s] a seismic shift in how agencies can expand and contract their talent based on client budget—which means you’ll never have to turn a project down again due to a lack of bandwidth.

Articulate Solutions, a creative services and communications agency on Upwork, uses freelancers on Upwork to handle their overload during busy times. “Just last week we had a freelance designer turn around a quick project in less than 12 hours,” said founder Jason Raby.

Ramp up during busy periods—for example, when multiple projects come through at once and you want to meet those needs—then scale back down when workloads return to normal. Or, engage freelancers for more predictable workstreams like daily social media asset creation or image sourcing.

Support busy teams and reduce burnout

Leading agencies are engaging freelancers departmentally, tackling the work streams that eat up the most time. Maybe you maintain an existing creative team structure, such as a creative director with a copywriter-art director team, and a pool of graphic designers. You can expand that pool with additional remote experts to support spikes in demand.

This is how Upwork’s own hybrid design team manages busy periods with the on-demand support of freelancers. An internal design team will focus on the core strategic vision—e.g., fine-tuning messaging while diving deep into user research—while the remote team of freelancers handles execution of specialized projects. This builds in some oversight as well to ensure all client-facing work is up to par.

Generate new ideas with a fresh set of eyes—and skills

With an outside lens, freelancers can bring new, fresh ideas to the table and inspire innovative projects. They can also bring fresh expertise, especially when you consider that 55% of full-time freelancers continue to update their skills compared with 30% of others. Some even take the time to learn peripheral skills in their field so they can take on more aspects of a multidisciplinary project.

Freelancers don’t have to only take on the “low-hanging fruit,” either. San Francisco-based agency (self-dubbed a “creative syndicate”) Partners in Crime curates freelancers to work on big-name brands such as North Face, REI, and Airbnb, with the idea that every freelancer has a “superpower” and can be the perfect fit for different projects.

Borrowing that mindset, consider which future or existing projects could use some leveling-up, or special expertise. You might end up wowing your client with new campaign ideas. Or, a research and analytics pro might give an already high-performing team the guidance they need to produce even better results.

Layer in additional services to diversify your offerings

Clients want a one-stop shop for their projects. When you tap freelancers to help you build out new capabilities that your existing team lacks, you’ll be able to pitch more end-to-end solutions to clients.

Articulate Solutions also taps freelancers “to fill in gaps when they aren’t experts,” says founder Jason Raby. For instance, they have turned to Upwork for a Spanish voice artist when they needed Spanish voiceover for a video they produced.

Which means you could (and should) be tapping freelancers to help you build out the new capabilities clients are looking for. Freelancers with specialized skills can also help you go after the projects that might have very specific technical requirements or niche expertise. In some cases, whether it’s a 3D animator or a designer with UI and UX expertise, it might be the difference between winning and losing a pitch.

These are just a few ways freelancers can help your agency scale production so you can continue growing your client roster and portfolio.