Most Amazon Sellers eventually need help growing sales. But who you hire to do that dramatically affects the results you get. So when it’s time to hire an Amazon expert, who should you hire? A freelancer or Amazon agency?
What are your goals?
Most small Amazon sellers can do just fine if they hire a freelancer. A skilled freelancer can manage and grow the sales of a simple account with a small to medium sized catalog. But if the catalog is large, or you need a robust marketing strategy, it might be better to hire an Amazon agency. So one of the most important questions to ask yourself is: “What are your goals on Amazon?”
Some sellers see Amazon as just another sales channel to manage. No different than their website or brick and mortar store. These sellers aren’t interested in investing a lot of effort into the Amazon sales channel.
If that’s your goal, then an Amazon freelancer can be super helpful. They know the platform better than you do and can incorporate your larger marketing strategy into Amazon.
A freelancer is great for this kind of work. Typically, regular maintenance and moderate strategy doesn’t take a lot of time, but it’s super valuable. Freelancers also really love clients in this position because they develop systems for repetitive tasks and account monitoring.
Amazon is an incredibly complex platform. There are rules for everything, industry standard practices, and unique situations for every seller. And all of it is overwhelming if you don’t live and breathe it (actually–it’s overwhelming for everyone).
The hard part is, if you mess up, Amazon can be really cruel.
They can shut down your account for sending the wrong email.
They can suppress your listings if you have the wrong word somewhere in a paragraph.
They can make it impossible to sell a product if you misspell your own brand name.
And these are just the common problems that we see sellers face on Amazon. There are hundreds of penalties that exist, and thousands of problems you can encounter on the platform.
This makes getting started on Amazon correctly absolutely vital. Because if you get started, and you make even just a couple of mistakes, those mistakes can cost you hours of time and lots of money down the road.
If you’re new to the Amazon platform, it makes the most sense to hire an Amazon agency. Because agencies deal with large numbers of clients, they encounter and fix a lot of problems. And because they work in teams, they can pull from a collective bank of knowledge to make sure you start of right.
Additionally, some agencies have connections with internal Amazon teams, which give them access to programs and tools to make starting on Amazon easier and more efficient.
Every account is different, and each brand has different customers. This means that growing sales is unique for every seller.
When you’re trying to grow sales, you need a real expert who knows the Amazon platform inside and out. You want a team with a deep understanding of all of the resources Amazon offers to grow sales, and which ones will be best for your brand.
For this reason, we think that agencies are best at growing sales for sellers on Amazon. But that can be tricky because some agencies are lazy and only do the bare minimum. Others say they offer everything (like photography, graphic design, videography, ad management, SEO, etc.), which means that they actually aren’t good at anything.
If you’re looking to grow sales, you’ll want an agency that specializes in strategy. They won’t do a lot of the day-to-day work, but they’ll know everything there is about how to grow sales.
They also won’t do everything. Instead, they’ll point you to software, products, and services that you’ll leverage to grow sales. They’ll know which options will be best for sales growth and which ones will not be useful for you.
A lot of sellers think that this might cost them more money. And maybe it will. But if your goal is to grow sales, then you probably don’t want to hire the cheapest service provider you can find.
Managing a Large Catalog
If you have hundreds or thousands of products, and volume is your game, you actually don’t want a freelancer or an Amazon agency. You need someone in house.
Freelancers and agencies are designed to know and work the Amazon platform, not the catalog.
There are a lot of sellers that have massive catalogs, with multiple product lines in multiple categories, all with unique SKU codes and marketing needs.
The simple fact is no agency is designed to manage accounts like this.
That doesn’t mean an agency can’t handle these kinds of accounts. It just means that you’ll likely need to pay a premium for that kind of service.
These kind of accounts take time and effort to learn the brands, product lines, SKU codes, standard practices, and more. When you hire an agency, you’re hiring a team part time. And as a result, you’ll likely find better results hiring someone full time to run your Amazon.
Pros and Cons: Freelancer, Agency, In-House
The reason you should hire differently depending on your goal is because freelancers, agency, and employees are good at different things. Each has unique skills and expertise, and depending on your situation, you’ll need something different.
Let’s explore what each group is good at.
The two things that freelancers do best are flexibility and price.
Most freelancers work from a home office, so they don’t pay rent. They also don’t typically have expensive, custom software to maintain or employees to pay meetings to attend. This means that their overhead is super low. And as a result, they usually are the cheaper option for account management.
They’re also extremely flexible. It’s just the freelancer you’re working with, which means that they can change and adapt to meet your needs. They’re more open to trying new things, and they don’t have specific processes and protocols they have to follow.
This makes them great for small account with few SKUs that don’t need a lot.
Most Amazon freelancers are best at management. They manage listings, manage ads, manage support cases, and manage account health.
Amazon agencies are treasure troves of knowledge. Each agent manages multiple accounts, and they operate in teams. That means even a small teams can pull from experiences across hundreds of accounts.
The truth is, no one you hire will know more about selling on Amazon than an agent.
But not all agencies are created equal. Many agencies design their pricing in such a way that they make more money the less they work on your account. So many agencies will do the bare minimum to keep a client pacified and then sell as many clients as possible.
Additionally, many agencies operate inside a cookie cutter model. So even though every account is different, they do the same things for everyone. They don’t take risks, try new programs, or innovate new marketing tactics.
So even though an Amazon agency knows the most, it’s important to make sure they deliver.
As a result, most medium clients will benefit from an agency that specializes in strategy. Not necessarily doing everything, but helping sellers know what they should be doing to grow sales.
If an agency claims they’re your “one stop shop”, you can guarantee they’re also a “one stop flop” for your sales.
No agency can do everything. So when you hire an Amazon agency, you want them to do Amazon. Not content or video or graphic design. Amazon.
An in-house employee might not know the most about Amazon, but they know the most about your brand and products.
If you have a lot of products, then you essentially have to chose between an expert in your products or an expert on Amazon. And if you have a large catalog, it probably makes to most sense to prioritize product knowledge.
A freelancer or Amazon agent will get lost in the massive number of SKUs you have.
Additionally, companies with large catalogs usually have a lot of other things going on that are outside of Amazon. External help can get lost in the minutia.
An in-house employee is best for really tight integration with the rest of the brand strategy.
Where BLAZON Thrives
It’s no secret–we’re an agency. So if you’re looking for help and you’re deciding between a freelancer or Amazon agency, we have some skin in the game.
But BLAZON does things a little differently.
First, we structure our pricing differently. Most agencies bill sellers a large retainer, so that no matter what work is (or isn’t) done on the account, the agency makes a pretty penny.
We think that’s dumb. And we think it’s wrong for agencies to screw Amazon sellers over like that.
So instead, we keep our retainers as low as possible. And then we tie our pricing to performance. We take a percentage of growth in gross sales, ensuring that we only make money if you make money.
Then, we specialize in strategy, not management. We don’t do everything intentionally. We’ve developed partnerships with some of the industries best tools and services for Amazon sellers, and we help sellers know which ones to engage with to grow sales.
We’re not the best at photography. But we know who is. And we’ll connect you if you need it.
We don’t have proprietary PPC software. But we know what software you should use to meet your goals.
But what we do, we do the best. And we’re confident that no one knows the Amazon platform better than we do.
We have relationships with teams inside Amazon, and we dive deep into all of the different programs and tools Amazon offers sellers. We exhaust all resources, news, and services to find what works best.
We test and try everything. And we leave no stone left unturned.
We’re not the cheapest, and we don’t do the most.
But we’re real Amazon experts.