We know that some of you are just setting out on your journey into the working world and are wondering how freelance work weighs up against agency life – and which option suits your future the best. Design and web development careers exist on a spectrum, from junior agency staff all the way through to fully freelance. Each path presents its own perks and pitfalls, and knowing this, we want to equip you with as much information as possible.
Freelance has many perks, but is often a romanticised. We want you to be able to make informed decisions for your career path.
Freelancers everywhere laud the freedom of location that comes with freelancing. As a freelance worker you aren’t limited by location and can ditch that daily commute from your day.
Choice of Industry
Freelance work allows you to choose the type of work and industry that you want to work in. Any project from commercial to work in the charity sector is yours if you so choose.
You’ll have the privilege of starting and ending your day as you please but this freedom can tempt some to slack off during the day and then cram work at night. With the freedom to decide when you work you do need to be very disciplined as well! Funny how “freedom” and “discipline” always have to go together …
You’ll be able to set your own rates as a freelancer, which can be financially beneficial. However, newly qualified individuals must remember that high prices only really come with experience. Working your way up is the most rewarding and sustainable way to go.
Freelance does have some pitfalls. While you get to pick your location, a freelancer working from home can get a bit isolated and no one wants that. That said, if you employ proper time management, you could make time to see your family and friends or engage in a hobby throughout the week.
Freelance workers are most at risk of falling into an industry rut, wherein your work for a specific client gets you more referrals in that industry. The referrals are great for your business, but as far as building a colourful portfolio, it may start looking a little homologous.
Good time management will need to become your middle name! Working from home on your own schedule requires a lot of discipline to make sure you work efficiently.
Freelancers are also prone to taking on a lot of work at once because of the lack of true job security and cash flow stability. Feast vs. famine may become your reality.
Sales & Paperwork
Lastly, as a freelancer you’ll spend less of your time actually doing what you love as you are an entire business in one. Business development, doing paperwork, handling finances – it’s all down you! Those with strong entrepreneurial skills might enjoy this factor, but it is one of the most important, sobering issues that you need to consider.
Some of you might be considering that an agency role is the best platform to perform your passion. You’ll be glad to hear that there are just as many perks as freelance work!
Agency work offers greater job security than freelancing, meaning that if you are a skilled, diligent employee, you’ll likely be given jobs throughout your career. This is hugely attractive, especially to those who are supporting themselves and don’t lean towards a more entrepreneurial approach.
Doing What You Love
At an agency, you’ll get to spend more time doing what you love, because the agency handles the admin and finances. Further, agency work will likely result in a variety of clients across many industries for you to work with, allowing you to diversify your portfolio.
The Agency Buzz
Working in an agency means you’ll have the opportunity to engage with all sorts of people, in a variety of positions. Not only can you learn more about your industry, but you could also end up collaborating with other professionals.
Walking with Elephants
Lastly, as part of an agency you have a much greater chance of doing work for large brands, as they typically select reputable local agencies to assist their brand. This is not a rule, but something to consider.
At an agency, you won’t have as much freedom to choose what projects you work on which can be frustrating, may rub against your values and could even be boring at times. But remember, this does diversify your portfolio and allows you to prove yourself.
An agency will usually have a fixed location, meaning you will have to commute to work every day, and usually on a 9-5 basis. Furthermore, as a contracted or permanent employee, your holiday time is stipulated. It’s changing, but in general, full employee flexibility is a bit of an oxymoron for now.
The Agency Rush
Agencies often experience seasonal periods of mass hysteria and a quieter lull, which may be extreme for newbies. The end of year rush is real!
With a fixed role, you may ‘lose out’ on practical experience with customer care and financial admin. However, a multi-disciplinary agency will allow you to broaden your knowledge by connecting with others.
All in all, freelance versus agency work is a very personal decision that depends on your personal traits – are you really entrepreneurial enough to be a freelancer? Then there is your personal goals, available time, and essentially your preferred lifestyle.
Make sure to list your pros and cons to help you decide which is best for your future. Together with Academy Class, we can get you out there with the right skills to give you a competitive edge in your industry of choice.
Academy Class is an international online and in-class educator, with a qualification framework backed by design and development organisations such as Autodesk and Adobe. We tutor people all over the world through live-online sessions and in-class training in the United Kingdom and Lithuania. Connect with us here and take the first step to getting qualified for less, doing something you’ve always wanted.