Guide to hiring content creators

Elena Prokopets
Written by Elena Prokopets
on July 13, 2023 11 minute read

The creator economy emerged almost out of nowhere less than a decade ago.

But it’s now a $100+ billion industry, fueled by talented individuals and companies that support them. 

Creators is a broad term for all people (pros and hobbyists), producing content on the Internet. TikTok dancers, YouTubers, Instagram influencers, digital artists, and all sorts of independent product makers are now shaping consumers’ perceptions of pop culture, brands, and current events.

The power of individual personalities can be massive. According to the latest data

  • 84% of Gen Z purchased products in direct response to social media content
  • 37% of consumers across demographics trust social media influencers more than brands
  • 28% of consumers regularly discover new products and brands via influencers 


If you’re wondering how to harness the growing influence of content creators, this guide explains how to hire, onboard, and manage the best creative talents. 

Full-time content creators vs freelancers vs agencies: Which option to select?

To produce epic content, you can hire full-time staff, partner up with freelancers, or get an agency on a retainer. 

Having a full-time content creation team is a great option when you have predictable workflows and a clear-cut niche (e.g., commercial video production). However, payrolling full-time creatives isn’t something every company can afford. Agencies can handle an equal (and sometimes bigger) scale of content production with less day-to-day involvement. Though lower supervision can be both an advantage (more time to focus on strategy) and a downside (subpar results). Partnering with freelance content creators is the option growth-driven companies choose as you get both flexibility and a high scaling potential. But running distributed teams requires some managerial magic. 

Here are the pros and cons of each option model to help you decide what's best for you.

Pros of hiring full-time content creators

Working with the same top-caliber team is a dream for any Art Director or Head of Creative. You get to cultivate incredible synergy and leverage each other's strengths to deliver award-winning (and money-making) creative campaigns.  Plus, there are several more perks to having an in-house content creation department: 

  • On-brand content production. In-house creators know “how things are done” in your company. They follow (and often create) brand guidelines, shape the brand identity, and understand the pet peeves and no-nos everyone on the team has. 
  • Streamlined content creation. Most creative projects require efficient teamwork. You need the host(s), guest(s), producer, editor, and some assistants to produce bigger creative video projects or large-scale ad campaigns. Having all those people in-house makes the management process much easier. 
  • Easier capacity planning. When you have a fixed creator headcount, it’s easier to estimate how much creative magic you can make happen within a fixed timeframe and allocated budget. 

Cons of hiring full-time content creators

While it’s tempting to assemble to have a creative powerhouse under one (virtual) roof, there are quite a few blockers to doing so: 

  • Small talent pool. Though there are over 50 million content creators worldwide, only 8% identify as professional creators. Among those are full-time creative business owners and influencers who are unlikely to seek out full-time employment in the first place. 
  • Talent retention. Creative work can be as exhausting as manual labor. Staying in your top mental shape year-on-year, under growing pressure isn’t easy. Worldwide, the marketing and ad industry has one of the highest employee burnout rates of 69.6%, followed by the second-highest annual employee turnover of 30%.
  • Limited diversification. Social media trends come and go. New networks emerge and user preferences — shift. Having full-time staff to cover each channel is mostly unsustainable due to high payroll costs, plus the constant need for upskilling. 

Pros of hiring freelance content creators

The creator economy is growing bigger year-on-year, with roughly 450,000 people now identifying as full-time content creators. The global talent pool is much larger though as many people prefer to go by “freelancer”, “influencer”, “photographer”, or “business owner” titles. 

Finding incredible freelance content creators has never been easier and the prospects of doing so are rather attractive: 

  • On-demand access to expertise. Whether you want to dab into podcasting, experiment with TikTok content creation, or release an ambitious video campaign, you’ll be sure to find the right freelance person for the job (and it would end up cheaper than payrolling the same project in-house). 
  • Diverse perspectives. You can showcase a variety of styles, voices, and thoughts in your campaigns. Diverse teams are statistically more innovative and creative. You can also build a stronger brand by partnering up with creatives that best represent your target audiences.  
  • Higher operational efficiency. Farm out labor-intensive creative work like photo retouching or video editing to reduce the pressure on your ever-busy in-house team. Scale your content production capacities by parallelizing product work with the help of freelance content creators. 

Cons of hiring freelance content creators

Although 75% of business leaders agree that it’s more efficient to hire a specialist freelancer rather than train an existing employee, managing a large freelance workforce can be challenging (Though Xoloknows how to make things smoother!). 

  • Limited integration: Freelance content creators will always stay on the “margins” of your business. If you don’t have effective processes for onboarding and ongoing knowledge exchange, you’d risk getting creative work that “doesn’t fit the brief”. 
  • Complex management. With freelance content creators, you can have boots on the ground across many locations. However, running a distributed workforce can be tough due to time zone differences, communication issues, or varying tax and regulatory requirements. 
  • Intellectual property (IP) rights. Most content creators have a strong personal brand, which can be both a major advantage and a pesky nuisance. Not all creatives will agree to grant exclusive copyrights to their work or provide white-label services. Royalty payouts are also common for bigger commissions, so you’ll have to factor in these costs as well. 

Pros of hiring a content creation agency 

To meet the surging demand, most advertising and marketing agencies switched to offering on-demand content creation services — from social media content creation to managed podcast production. 

Working with an agency exposes you to a wider range of creative talent and types of production opportunities: 

  • Unbeatable scalability. A great agency partner can adjust to the ebbs and flows in your content production needs and deliver a wide range of assets — from one-off promo materials to consistent videography work. 
  • Managed project delivery. Apart from delivering briefs and approving creative outputs, your involvement with a content creation agency can be minimal. There’s also less emotional baggage when it comes to making tough decisions about downscaling or firing. 
  • Higher-caliber content. Agencies often have better equipment and software required for content production — from pro gear to soundproof rooms and unique shooting locations. Building the same stack in-house costs a pretty penny. 

Cons of hiring a content creation agency 

Content creation agencies can be great partners in the long run. But the costs can run steep too. Moreover, you should account for the following disadvantages: 

  • Limited control. Although agencies promise to stick to the brief, things sometimes go sideways. As a client, you have less control over the creative process (and its results), which can result in misalignment with your brand values, positioning, and differentiation. 
  • High minimum spend. Higher-trier agencies often don’t take projects with less than a five-figure (and sometimes even six-figure) price tag. Others also require a minimum retainer commitment of X months. Both can be operational constraints. 
  • Longer turn-around times. Since agencies handle a large volume of work, you shouldn’t expect them to jump on a “last moment” request. This can limit your ability to capitalize on viral pop culture trends, unraveling right here and now. 

Freelance content creation roles your business needs

Audio, video, visual, or even mixed reality content — you can make your pick and commission the creative services from the following freelance professionals. 

  • Photographers help your brand story through eye-catching photos and curated feeds. Some specialize in content production for social media (Instagram, Pinterest, etc), while others focus their creative efforts on product staging for ecommerce or advertorial shoots. 
  • Videographers create stunning video content for businesses across the board — from retailers and fashion brands to real estate agencies and financial advisors. If you’re looking to launch an online course, document an event, or create gripping commercial materials, this is the person to call upon. 
  • TikTokers specialize in viral content for the namesake network. They know how to create those attention-grabbing videos that get millions of organic views and tons of new subscribers. Many also double as Insta reel makers. 😉 
  • YouTubers thrive in the long-form storytelling genre. If you’re looking for a video show host, producer, and editor, meshed into one, this is the person to have in your books. 
  • Bloggers create written content. From sponsored posts to ghostwritten thought-leadership articles, these wordsmiths know how to write engaging, SEO-friendly content for the web. 
  • Podcasters can help you tap into the growing audio content marketing segment. Plenty of incredible freelance talent is available to (co)host and (co)produce thrilling discussions for brands. 
  • Video editors transform the raw video footage into an engrossing, logical storytelling sequence by selecting the best shots, adding transitions, and figuring out the optimal pacing. 
  • Musicians. Need a funky new jingle or a catchy, branded tune?  Commissioning royalty-free music from digital audio creators and pro musicians has never been easier. 

Where to find the best content creators?

Content is everywhere and so are the people that produce it. If you want to hire the best  freelance content creators, we recommend using Xolo — cut your hiring time down to zero, and let a team of industry experts pair the perfect freelancer(s) to every unique project you bring.

Contacting the Xolo crew, and informing them of your project details and mission, means you’re just a few business days (or less) from hiring amazing freelance talent.

We’ll go over some alternatives to finding freelance designers today, and give you a chance to decide which fits your needs best.

  • Social media platforms
  • Creator marketing platforms
  • Creative talent marketplaces 

Social media

Digital content creation isn’t a skill you pick up in the Uni. It’s something you learn by doing. Most content creators begin as hobbyists and then progressively transition to a full-time job as an Adobe survey recently found. 

Source: Adobe

Apart from monetizing their audiences via ad integrations and sponsorship deals, many creative folks are also open to on-demand content production for brands.

A quick search on your network of choice (Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube), should get you some solid leads (plus, an instant view of the person's portfolio). 

Have a bigger budget and want to streamline your talent search? Check platform-recommended creators: 


Creator marketing platforms

The creator economy grew from non-existent to a $104.2 billion market in less than a decade. Most of the industry value comes from collaborations between brands and creators — from the #sponsored campaigns to ongoing brand ambassadorship engagement, and on-demand content creation of course.

Creator marketing platforms have emerged to facilitate all of the deal-making. Apart from offering tools for campaign management, many now also offer talent match-making services. 

Check these creator marketing platforms to find your next freelance hire: 

Creative talent marketplaces 

Still haven’t found the ideal match? Well, you have another option left: specialized freelance marketplaces. Unlike all-purpose sites like Upwork and Fiverr, niche talent marketplaces specialize in one vertical — video content production, photography, or design services. 

Here you’re more likely to encounter experienced freelance content creators: 

How much do you pay freelance content creators? Rates by location & expertise 

Most creative professions — be it design or writing — have price ranges all over the place because of the varying nature of work and deliverables.

Pricing in the creator economy is even more complex since it’s a new niche, where few standard pay grades exist. 

That said, you can work out an appropriate compensation package for freelance content creators by factoring in their niche, personal brand (and following), plus the type of creative outputs you expect (e.g., one sponsored post or fully signed over a set of commercial product photos). 

According to Later Rates Report, freelance content creators base their price quote on:

  • The content format (67%)
  • The scope of work and resources required (66%) 
  • Expected time for creation (64%) 


Below are the median rates for various types of creative work you can use as a reference for budgeting. 

Instagram content creation costs 

You can leverage Instagram influencers both for influencer marketing campaigns and on-demand content creation. The quoted rates will mostly depend on the follower count (for sponsored campaigns), and the content format. 


Video content creation

Creation and posting

Creator ads post 

(under 3K followers)




(under 10K followers)




Macro creators (over 100K followers) 





Source: Insense 

TikTok content creation costs 

According to Later, the median rate per sponsored TikTok video is $700. On the lower end, creators charge  $250 per video and upward to $1700 on the other end of the spectrum. 

Pro Tip: Collabstr offers a free user-generated content creator calculator, which you can use to figure out the going rate for different content types and platforms. 


Freelance photographer rates  

Commercial photographers charge either on commission (aka per deliverable) or through reproduction fees (aka for granting non-exclusive image usage rights). 

The rates depend on the brief, assignment complexity, and extra production requirements (e.g., traveling to shoot at some very remote location). 

A rate guide by the British Union of Journalists recommends the following freelance photography rates:

  • £1100 day rate for commercial PR photography 
  • £700 half-day rate for commercial PR photography 
  • £3000 day rate for corporate photography 
  • £110/hour for bulk editing tasks 


A pricing guide by Cherrydeck suggests the following rates for commercial photoshoots and content creation projects:

  • Specialist photographers: €1,500-€5,000+ per day. 
  • Senior photographers: €1,250-€3,000+ per day. 
  • Junior talent: €800-€1,200 per day. 


Your best option? Reach out to several freelance photographers with a creative brief and ask for price quotes. 

Freelance videographer rates 

Videography prices differ a lot too based on the scope of work. Most freelance videographers bill either by project or using a day rate.

The project price quote typically factors in:

  • Total raw footage duration (or the number of shooting hours) 
  • Final edit duration 
  • General level of work complexity 
  • Post-production effects (motion graphics, color grading, etc). 


In the UK, videographers charge £550 per day of shooting or editing work. A US video production studio recommends the following rates for different freelance roles: 

  • Video Editor: $60/hour to $175/hour
  • Cameramen: $25/hour to $400/hour
  • Narrators/Voiceovers: $100 to $400
  • Video Rendering: $30/hour to $75/hour

How to pay freelance content creators

Content creation is a job like any other. Yet, independent content creators struggle to collect their dues: 87% experienced payment issues at least once, according to a Tipaltiy report.

Late, delayed, or incomplete payments are the most problematic areas. And while some clients are probably part of the problem, content creators often don’t make things easier either. 

Many operate as individuals, rather than incorporated entities, and prefer B2C payment methods (like Venmo, Paypal, or mobile wallets) for client payment processing.


The wrinkle is that many organizations prefer bank transfers and card payments for accounting and tax reporting reasons. Many also cannot handle invoices with short payment terms like “due on receipt” or Net 7. 

That’s when tensions arise and payment delays happen.

Xolo smoothes the payment preference asymmetry by providing freelance content creators with a convenient invoicing app. We ensure that all invoices are VAT-compliant and include all the necessary information for tax reporting before routing them to the clients. You can then pay each via a bank transfer (and bank card support is coming soon!) and we’ll transfer the money to the creator. This way, payment experience remains fast and effective, while compliance risks are at a minimum. 

Must-know tips for working with freelance content creators

Freelancers can help you with more than just audio, video, and photo content creation. When managed correctly, they can become an organic extension of your in-house creative teams (and the brand as a whole). 

Such synergetic partnerships can bring new perspectives to your marketing, spark new ideas, and substantially improve your campaign performance. 

Create stronger partnerships with creators by applying these tips: 

  • Organize your strategy ahead of time. Don’t reach out to creators when your project is still in the perpetuity stage. No one wants to work with companies that keep changing their concept when the content production is already en route. Take the time to prepare a short project summary with a quick summary of your brand, campaign type, expectations, and deliverables. Share all the deets with the creator to get a faster “buy-in” and higher-quality creative outputs. 
  • Be transparent with terms. Likewise, no one likes working with companies who’re trying to downplay the value of the creative work, lowball an offer, or worse — sneak in some shady contractual obligations. Be upfront about the usage rights, whitelisting agreements, and non-compete clauses you’d expect from a creator. 
  • Let creators have creative control over the content. After all, you’re hiring them for their artistic flair and unique vision. Being too restrictive with guidelines is a surefire way to get soulless underwhelming content no one likes. Stay open to the creator’s inputs and suggestions as they also have deep audience knowledge and the ability to interpret various market trends. 


Need more guidance? Learn how to manage freelance teams to achieve great synergy and top performance

Key steps to hiring outstanding freelance content creators - conclusion

  1. Choose the right freelancer hiring option: Decide whether to hire full-time content creators, work with freelancers, or partner with a content creation agency based on your specific needs and resources.
  2. Identify freelance content creation roles your business needs: Determine the specific roles you require, such as photographers, videographers, TikTokers, YouTubers, bloggers, podcasters, video editors and musicians.
  3. Explore where to find the best content creators: Explore different sources for finding freelance content creators, including social media platforms (Instagram, TikTok, YouTube) and creator marketing platforms. Let Xolo help
  4. Understand freelance content creator rates: Consider factors such as content format, scope of work, resources required, and expected time for creation when determining appropriate compensation packages. 
  5. Learn how to pay freelance content creators: Provide your freelance content creators with convenient invoicing options, and ensure your send VAT-compliant invoices. Let Xolo help


Partner up with the best creative talent without worrying about onboarding, compliance, or payment nuisances. Xolo is changing the way you think about hiring freelancers — less hassle, less time and better results. Send your next project to Xolo, and let a dedicated industry expert curate three freelancers perfect for your exact mission to you in under three business days, leaving you with an easy decision.

And if you’re looking to build a team, Xolo has you covered from discovery to payday. 

Grow your talent

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About Elena

Elena Prokopets writes content for tech-led companies & software development businesses, marketing to them. Her empathy for the customer, expertise in SEO, and knack for storytelling help create content that ranks well and drives industry conversations.

Elena uses Xolo so she can focus on her solo B2B content writing business without stressing over the compliance and admin overhead.

    Bridge the gap to success with a talented freelance team.

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