I’ve got a good few years under my belt now freelancing around various different agencies and working with a number of clients, I figured it would be a good post to let any new freelancers out there what it can be like on the freelance circuit when working for a number of different design agencies.
Whether you’re working for a design agency or direct to end client you’ll quickly find that projects and requirements vary. Some clients want the quickest (cheapest) solution and others want meticulous work and will budget for the time it takes. When working for design agencies it’s a good idea to find out exactly how much time you’re allowed to spend on a project (you’re often not told without asking).
As a freelancer you’re not always going to be Mr Popular, particularly in the eyes of other designers. You’ve been brought in to produce work that the studio can’t handle, you’re not a direct threat to the other designers but they don’t always see it that way. I even had an occasion once where a designer took all the work I’d produced and passed it off as his own after I’d finished my required days.
Some design agencies use freelancers for pitch work, preferring to use their own staff on paid client work. This can be good for your portfolio as pitch work tends to be more creative – be warned though, make sure you’re getting paid regardless of the outcome of the pitch. There are too many factors outside your influence in any pitch to risk your fee.
Other agencies will use freelancers to clear up any loose ends they have. It’s often not the most fulfilling work and it means you can be getting your hands dirty on all kinds of jobs.
Some of the more switched on agencies will have you sign an NDA and various other contracts. Often this puts a stop to you showcasing any work you’ve done for that agency on your website (or anywhere else). If you’re looking to build a strong portfolio to help bring other clients in this can have a big impact.
It’s not unheard of to literally get last minute cancellation on pre-booked work. This can leave you struggling to fill your schedule and as a result has a direct impact on the money you earn. There are measures you can take to help prevent this ranging from written contracts to casual projects that you can drop on should you find yourself with more time on your hands than you expected.
As a busy freelancer you’ll be pretty much working the hours of a permanent employee (if that’s what you want to do). This can leave you little time to stay up to date with latest technologies, techniques and developments. It’s a good idea to set aside some time, no matter how little to keep on top and learn new things.
Hopefully if you’re new to freelancing or even thinking about going freelance then there may be something useful in this post for you. If anyone out there has anything they’d like to contribute please do comment below!