Episode 51: Should You Subcontract or Join an Agency to Run Ads for Clients?

So a question that I’ve heard from ad managers over

Jody Milward

So a question that I’ve heard from ad managers over the years is should I work for an agency or should I subcontract my ad management services? That is a great question. While you have valuable expertise that is very much in demand, should you just keep working with your clients, or should you subcontract for an agency or perhaps even be employed by an agency?

There are pros and cons to all of those things, depending on where you are with your experiences as an ad manager, your lifestyle, or just what you want. So that is what we want to remember about why we’ve gone into this area of expertise. Why did we start? And what is it that we want to really achieve?

A lot of us will start running ads for clients, and then we’ll often get caught up with the whole; I need to build an agency. And so they go off down the track of looking at business developers, salespeople, account managers, all the other bits and pieces. They get to a point where they realize that they’re not an ad manager anymore. They’re being a human resources manager and organizing all these people. Whereas what they really loved to do was run ads for clients, a lot of that got lost in the process. So stripping everything back and deciding what it is that you actually want to do. What do you enjoy doing about Facebook ads can help you make the right decision here.

Now, as an ad manager/freelancer doing this yourself without being subcontracted or working with an agency, you certainly have the ability to charge more. It’s just you and the client. There are no other middlemen like there are in an agency. So you can charge more. Perhaps you’re at a point where you are stuck with only charging $500 or $1,000 a month, and you’re going, “I can’t find people who would pay me more than that.” If that’s the case, one, you want to be targeting higher value leads to be able to talk to, and two, perhaps going off to an agency would help relieve some pressure for you.

How to Run Facebook Ads for clients

Running ads yourself and dealing directly with clients gives you a lot more flexibility into how much you’re going to charge. You could be charging $2,000 a month, plus 10% of ad spend. So if you get just 5 clients on board that are paying that, that’s $10,000. Plus the 10% of ad spend, which could be another $5,000 a month or so. So again, that’s most likely most lucrative for you.

Or you could go to an agency as a senior media buyer. If you’ve got a couple of years of experience and got great results for clients, then you may be a senior media buyer. That’s where you might earn $70,000 to over $100,000 a year with being a senior media buyer in a well-established agency that does have those high-value clients.

Being employed by an agency, or possibly even just subcontracting to an agency could provide you with great extra skills and learning. So yes, if you are just starting out and there’s an agency looking for a junior media buyer, you’re not going to get paid at the level of a senior media buyer, but it’s going to be a great experience for you.

You can see their systems, how they do things, the types of clients they work with, and just get some experience on board. Then, if you have the ability, depending on your contracts and agreements with the agency, you can have your own clients and fast-track your journey to doing your own thing.

However, being with an agency takes a lot of work. As an agency owner who’s brought in people before, I want to know that people are going to stay with me for a while. So if you do accept work with an agency, of course, you’ve got to do your own thing. But it would be honorable to them if you were to stay there for a decent amount of time, and not just three months or something like that, because it takes a lot of work and expense to train someone.

So they’d appreciate it if you’re going to stay around long-term, but of course, you’ve got to do what’s right for you as well. That’s something to always keep in mind. It could be an excellent experience for you. The payoff with that approach is that you may not charge as much. However, if you’re not charging that much anyway, this could be more rewarding for you because you do not have to do the client chase, and that’s where many ad managers really get over it, so to speak. Doing the client chase and the sales calls because they love running ads for people, and that’s what they enjoy. That’s their favorite part of it. But it’s all the other stuff like sales calls and account management, because in an agency they may have other people doing account management for you.

So if you could just work on ads, that’s your sweet spot. Then a hundred percent going to work for an agency or subcontracting for someone else could relieve all that other pressure off you because they’re the ones finding the clients and bringing them in. So you can just do the work that you love.

Considering what it is you want to do is going to help you make that best decision. You can possibly and quite potentially be earning more if you work directly with the clients as a freelancer. Or you are working with an agency or subcontracting to other freelancers. You’d likely take a cut in pay unless you go to that senior media buyer position, but you’ll get a great experience, and you don’t have to do the client chase.

That’s where in the past, I have made connections between people who are running agencies and then been looking for media buyers. Those media buyers that have gone, “I don’t want to be on sales calls for four hours a day, seven days a week. I’m over that. I just want to run Facebook ads.” So that’s where those two can marry up beautifully so they can just run the ads and someone else is the one finding the clients, and then you can just get paid each month.

That’s something to consider if you get an offer from an agency to work with them, or if you see someone calling out looking for ad managers, and you’re wondering, should I? Consider where you’re at, what you enjoy and are you happy just to have client work coming in and not doing the hustle. Great, work for that agency, subcontract your services. But, if you love getting on those discovery calls, if you love working directly with clients and continuing to find new clients to work with, then yes, do your own thing. Be that freelancer and be able to charge whatever it is that you’re worth and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

I hope that’s been valuable to you today and helps you make some decisions down the track if you ever are presented with this opportunity. If you want to know more about being an in-demand ad manager, head over and download my free guide, The Quickstart Guide To Becoming An In-Demand Ad Manager.


I love to share practical information to help you improve your skills, learn something new or help you avoid the mistakes that many Ad Managers and I have made to help fast-track you on your journey as a well-paid and in-demand Ad Manager.