Agency vs. In-House: What should content writers opt for?

Authored by Nikhil Pradhan, Senior Content Manager, Freo

Once the exclusive domain of boutique agencies, content writing has expanded over the past decade. As content’s importance has risen in a marketer’s armoury, so has the demand for good writers. More organisations today- both startups and traditional ones - are building fully-capable in-house marketing teams staffed with content writers. 

This brings us to today’s question: should a fresh graduate opt for a writing role in an agency or in a brand’s marketing team?

As with most things creative, the answer isn’t that simple. So, let’s explore the ups and downs of both options.

Mile wide or mile deep?

There’s no denying that agencies offer the widest exposure to any creative professional - including content writers. The sheer variety of clientele at some of the big network agencies is mind-boggling & often the first thing that attracts a young writer. After all, which writer worth their salt wouldn’t want to write an in-depth blog for an insurance brand in the morning & a snappy article for a vodka brand in the evening?

On the flip side, as an in-house writer, the same person may not get to write for many brands but will instead, work very closely with a single or a few products/brands. This often means a lot more depth when it comes to categories, business strategy, product development, internal communications, channel strategy & more. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean you won’t get to write for different things in an in-house role or that you won’t get to explore topics in-depth in an agency, but those will be the exceptions rather than the rule.

Work culture

Work culture isn’t defined by the rules or on-paper “values” that the HR department circulates but rather by how employees interact with each other, with clients and stakeholders, & with their work.

A fresh writer at a creative agency will most likely come across an environment made for fast-paced, intense work. Post-pandemic, they will likely work in a hybrid structure or work from home entirely. Agencies demand collaboration within creative teams & most writers will have to work closely with designers, producers, planners & strategists, & account managers, along with the clients.

For in-house writers, work is fast-paced but not as breakneck as in agencies since focus & depth are crucial. While work is collaborative, there’s a big consultative aspect to writing as well. This is because in-house writers are often expected to work with other teams that may have little to do with marketing such as product, revenue and sales, internal communication, technology etc. In such cases, the writer (like everyone else) will be seen as a domain expert whose skills are being employed to meet a business objective or solve a problem.


When it comes to pay, a lot depends on the size of the organisation the writer is joining - whether an agency or a brand. However, generally speaking, a fresh writer is more likely to get a higher salary at an organisation than at an agency. This obviously changes according to experience, role, & responsibilities but all things being equal, an in-house writer will probably earn more. Whether that’s a priority at the beginning of one’s career depends on the individual.

You may think that there are no clear answers to the question that began this article but that isn’t the case. The clarity of the answer goes very much hand-in-hand with one’s priorities and career objectives. Interested in a particular domain & want to build a career in it? Maybe look at content roles in relevant organisations that work in that domain. Want to explore different domains at the beginning of your career? You should float your resume to agencies. Similarly, how do you feel about work-life balance? Don’t mind sweating it out for long hours to build experience and resilience? An agency might be the right choice. Want to give equal focus to your personal life or another interest along with work? Consider working with brands.

Wherever your priorities may lie, there’s no denying that it’s an exciting time to be a content professional. With most agencies in a period of transformation & an expansion of in-house marketing teams’ capabilities, not to mention the rise of A.I. powered content and the blurring of boundaries between content writing and copywriting, content writers can expect to have their hands full. 

 DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it.


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