Freelance work can be extremely rewarding. If your working in the area you love and are passionate about, you might be more inclined to work until late and not grumble about it! For me, the first four letters of the word sum up the key parts of life as a Freelancer. You are free. In terms of finding clients, briefs, hourly rates, work load and hours, you can decide everything. As long as you have the drive and skills to plan and do the work you are being paid for, it sounds like a dream life.
So why freelance? What has changed in your circumstances? There can be a number of reasons why you are considering a freelance career, ranging from redundancy through to a desire to earn potential extra ££’s.
One thing you must remember is that your working life will be completely different from now on, with hopefully many more highs than lows…
To be a successful freelancer you must have a passion for what you do and be prepared to be on the ball 24/7 – the previous comfort zone of a full-time job will be long forgotten! If you have been at a large agency it’s easy to clock in, do your job and then leave it behind at the end of the day – hangovers or off days will probably be tolerated if you’ve been at an agency for 5 years as you can probably always pick it up the next day and redeem yourself!
In the freelance world this cannot happen as bookings may only last a day and if you don’t make an impression from the first minute with your presentation, enthusiasm and commitment then its game over – that’s one agency talent pool you won’t be in for future work!
Passion for what you do will keep you motivated and focused and will get noticed by clients (and your consultant) and will ensure regular and repeat bookings!
Make sure you have an up-to-date killer portfolio with a broad range of clients across a broad range of media. Unless you are looking to specialise, the number of integrated agencies you will come across freelancing will be far greater.
The broader your skill set (and any evidence of this) will ensure confidence from your consultant if you are working through a recruitment agency. This will also provide your consultant with a rock-solid set of samples, as on occasion clients may request to see these before the commencement of a booking. In fact the client may actually request to see 3 or 4 CVs and samples from a range of candidates. So it’s imperative yours stands out from the rest to ensure it’s you that gets the gig!
Sounds obvious, but it’s vital you have a fully functioning mobile phone and make sure you have voicemail activated. If you want to be kept busy and not lose out on bookings, try and keep it constantly within earshot and not on silent! We have a one hour response time here at Source towers, so during incredibly busy times – when we have a flood of bookings to fill – we will have a shortlist of candidates to call and if we don’t get through to you first time there is a risk we may have filled the booking by the time you get back to us!
One recruitment agency, versus a number of recruitment agencies, versus independent work, versus a mix!
If you specialise in a certain field, i.e. retouching or art direction, then also check if your agency choices have a good reputation of working within these sectors – specialist fields may demand you have more than one agency looking after you. It’s important not to spread yourself too thinly but more important to make sure that you are working on every day you are available.
If you do decide to join a recruitment agency do some research, ask around, see who recommends who and maybe visit a handful to see who you click with and who you find you have most confidence in. However, there are some key pointers to look out for:
- Are they REC or APSCO registered?
- Will you get paid weekly?
- As PAYE will your holiday pay be included in your rate or paid separately?
- Are official terms supplied – does the agency follow proper procedures when registering you?
- Do they want to meet you face to face or will just a quick phone call do?
- Do they have evidence of a large client network and stability?
If you decide to go it alone you will need to network like crazy! The old saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” couldn’t be more true when it comes to freelancing! When starting out let as many friends or family know what you are doing, get on the social media bandwagon, tout your services and get busy.
Remember this chosen path will bring independence and more than likely a higher rate of pay per booking, but you must be able to manage your time correctly to deal with your administrative tasks and financially you must be prepared to have uncertainty when it comes to payment. You may get lucky and get paid weekly but in most cases you will invoice and have to wait 30 days for payment, and this may prove inconvenient at times especially if it’s only two days work that you are waiting to get paid for!
I have many candidates who only work for me and have a full diary and others who are with many agencies – the choice really is yours. See what works best for you.
Building your reputation
You need to become the person that agencies want to deal with! You want to be in constant demand by being in numerous agencies’ talent pools and your phone wants to be bouncing off the hook constantly! Whether you are independent or with an agency, you need to have a solid reputation. To do this is simple; you need to deliver consistently fantastic work which can lead your existing clients to refer you on to new clients. It’s a simple and highly effective way of keeping yourself busy and building your individual brand!