Interims, freelance specialists, and consultants – What’s the difference?

Nov 10, 2022 | Industry News

So, you want support with your SEO and you don’t have the resource or expertise in-house to cover it. You need a freelancer! But wait, what kind of freelancer? Do you need interim cover? How about a freelance SEO specialist? Or maybe an SEO consultant? Or perhaps just someone to tell you what on earth the difference is between them all?

We used data from our own website impressions to understand how people are searching for additional support and the results show that the waters are pretty muddied!   Out of just shy of 1,500 impressions analysed, 36% of those combined the terms “freelancer and consultant” (e.g., freelance PPC consultant) whereas only 11% combined “interim” and “consultant” (e.g., interim PPC consultant).  There was a much more even split between people searching for pure-play terms across “interim” and “freelance” with 24% of people searching for terms such as “SEO freelancer” and 21% of people searching for terms such as “interim SEO support”.

So, what does all this mean and why does it matter?

The conclusions we’ve drawn from the analysis is that whilst there will always be a certain amount of cross over between the different types of temporary support, people struggle to know exactly what the difference is and therefore end up searching for something that may not fit the bill for exactly what they need.

Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered for whatever you need, starting with an explanation about what the difference is and how each of these types of freelancers can help you. And, of course, we’ve got the people in our community to cover all these bases.

What is interim support?

First things first, interim support isn’t just ad hoc freelancer support. In our world, an interim digital marketing specialist is there to fulfil an ‘interim’ role within a business. That’s the key here, they are experts in their fields who can typically work from within that agency to help them fill a skills gap.

It could be that they are covering a maternity – or paternity – leave, or they could be there to provide extra resource or knowledge to help complete a particular task. They can often be there full-time on a fixed-term basis, usually between three and nine months, similar to a contractor, though these positions are usually more senior than a contractor role would be.

Typically, an interim specialist will be at senior manager or C-level and they are always motivated by the desire to deliver a great service for their clients in what can be challenging circumstances.

What helps them achieve this is that while they may be an interim part of your business, they can have that laser focus on the task at hand instead of being distracted by the day-to-day issues that an in-house staff member has to deal with.

What’s a freelance specialist?

Freelancers are experts in their field who you can utilise whenever you need them, for short periods of time. They usually charge by the hour or day and will generally work for multiple clients at a time rather than for just one agency.

If you’ve got a project you need extra help on, this is the type of freelancer who can get it done for you with a minimum of fuss and they can be as much or as little involved with your team and clients as you like. They might be full-time freelancers who make their living by doing this or could be doing it as a side gig. Either way you can rely on them to know their stuff because they are always judged by the last job they did and will be keeping their skills bang up to date. They’re ninja like and agile, sprinting from project to project leaving satisfied clients in their wake!

What is a consultant?

Whether they’re a hotshot content marketing consultant or a next-level PPC strategist, consultants have one thing in common; they are somewhat of a guru in their field. They’re not necessarily the people you would hire to crack on with day-to-day delivery tasks on-site, they’re more like the ones who can come in and offer expert advice and counsel to make sure you know what actually needs doing in the first place.

Our consultants have years of experience in their fields so they can help with strategy, coaching and mentoring internal staff or taking on particularly challenging situations you might have with clients. They’ll handle it all calmly and effectively, taking away your stress and leaving with you with definite results.

If you’ve seen Pulp Fiction, think of Harvey Keitel’s Winston Wolf. In the 21st Century, he’d be an SEO consultant. When you’ve brought in a consultant, you may also want to take on a team of freelancers to help carry out the work itself.

What next?

So, now you know the difference between an interim digital marketing specialist, a freelancer and a consultant. The long and short of it is when it comes to knowledge and nailing their chosen channels, all 3 of the above are top of their game so it comes down to what you and your team need. 

If you have a specific complex problem that needs a dedicated support team to execute, then interim support is likely right for you. If you need expert help in the trenches to get that next huge SEO tech audit over the line, then we’d suggest a freelancer. Or if you need a senior level soundboard to help improve agency team efficiencies, improve service offerings, or review current processes a consultant could be the one for you.

At Interim Digital we have a community built up of each of these type of support networks, each with their own set of skills and experience. We can also talk you through your challenges and identify which type of expert you need to help you and then find you the right match.

If you’re struggling to navigate the freelance market, then get in touch today and let us help you plug the resource gaps with the right kind of help at the right time.

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