So, I’ve spoken about why I went freelance 6 years ago, but you may be wondering what it was that made me stick to it. Why did I stay? Yes there are pros and cons, but I want to talk to you about why I continued freelancing with design recruitment agencies and why I recommend you try it.

When I first went freelance, I wasn’t expecting to jump into an amazing job. I was still new to freelance, after all. That being said, my first few contracts were a lot better than my full-time job. It was new and exciting. I was also now on a day rate and earning more than when I was an employee.

In the beginning

For the first couple of years I did short and straightforward contracts, undertaking relatively easy design work. I worked with several design recruitment agencies, building a reputation and my experience and improving my design portfolio.

In just a couple of years I had been to multiple design studios and worked on a few decent projects. Finally, I was getting the experience I’d wanted all along! I certainly hadn’t got this when I was working as an employed designer at one studio.

I got to observe how many different design agencies operated. Watching how senior designers worked, I could observe their process to complete projects. This new way of working meant I was meeting lots of other designers, both full-time and freelance. I learned tips and tricks, made friends, had great, insightful conversations and gained good advice. 

Not only this, I was also meeting creative professionals from other fields and working in teams to complete creative jobs. These first few years helped me build lots of experience very quickly. I felt like I was making up for all the time I’d spent as an employed designer, with not much to show for it. 

After a couple of years, I settled right into freelance. It was hard work and sometimes stressful, but I was happy and being paid well. I didn’t have to worry too much about the next contract and my CV was really starting to take shape.

So, with more experience and projects in my portfolio, I started getting better creative opportunities. I earned a decent reputation with my agents at the design recruitment agencies and was often offered jobs. This meant I was able to pick and choose the jobs wanted, instead of desperately taking any contract I could get.

Here come the big brands!

It wasn’t long before I was working on bigger brands. I worked on some big projects with some big British brands and broadcasters, as well as some global brands. 

This kind of experience was priceless and really helped move my career in the direction I wanted. I finally had some decent work and experience under my belt that I was proud of. All my hard work and commitment was paying off! 

Freelancing with design recruitment agencies was going well and I had momentum. Around two years ago, I started receiving offers directly from clients, so I thought I’d undertake some solo freelance. I thought this was a good chance to bring in some extra profit, so gave it a go.

I ended up taking on a bunch of work for some external clients. However, as much as I enjoyed the work, it turned out to be a completely different ball game to design recruitment agency freelance. 

Agency vs Solo

Freelancing with design recruitment agencies meant working in a studio with lots of other creatives. There was a good buzz and it was inspirational and motivational. I enjoyed working this way. There were also people employed to manage clients, pay fees and negotiate a fair day rate on my behalf. Plus, I only had to work within regular working hours, so when the day was done, so was I. Generally, I was only required to work a contract for a week or a month. It’s all organised for you and you just have to do the job within the specified time frame.

The process was far more drawn out as a solo freelancer. I found myself working almost double or triple the time on projects and was receiving a lower payment than with design recruitment agency freelance. 

This is often down to clients expectations. When you tell them your day rate, they often think “ooh that’s awfully high!”. As an accommodating designer looking for work, you try and work on a compromise with them. Sometimes, though, this can get out of hand. You also typically don’t get paid until the end of the contract, so must ensure the customer is 1000% satisfied so that they will pay. 

So, you have to take on all the feedback and do any updates and amends they request. This can add up to a lot of work before you’re paid anything, and can sometimes take a while.

Granted, I could have done a better job managing this. Solo freelance proved itself to be more hassle than it was work when compared to design recruitment agency freelance where all the admin is done for you and all you need to do is show up and do a good job. So I decided to no longer take on solo freelance projects and just stayed with design recruitment agency freelance.

6 years on…

Which brings me to where I am now, almost six years into my freelance career. I’ve now freelanced for almost as long as I was working full-time. In comparison, the experience I’ve received is 10-times, maybe even 100-times, what I ever got working full-time. 

During the 6 years I was employed full-time I worked at 3 studios. In 6 years of working freelance I have worked at over 30!

Working as a full-time employee, I was a junior to middle weight designer struggling to get experience. Today, I operate as a senior level freelancer, leading my own projects at studios in London and I have built a strong portfolio that gets me great creative opportunities. I can’t imagine where I would be today if I had stayed full-time.

So it’s for these reasons why I have stayed freelancing with design recruitment agencies and why I would recommend design recruitment agency freelance to you.

In my experience, working by yourself or with the same people for a while as an employee doesn’t expose you to a huge variety of skills, talent and ways of working. 

So, if you’re unhappy with your full-time role, feel you’re missing out on the experience you want, or if you’re solo freelance and tired of dealing with unreasonable clients, there is another way. 

If you have design recruitment agencies in your city then why not consider freelancing with design recruitment agencies?

So the main reasons that I have stayed DRA freelance is:

  • The crazy amount of experience you can get
  • The Variety of projects you get to work on
  • Working with amazing creative professionals 
  • Don’t have to chase clients
  • You work between the hours of the studio 
  • Working at home can be uninspiring
  • Work a good day rate 
  • Guaranteed payment
  • You show up, do a good job and leave 
  • If you’re lucky, they may even keep you around for a little while. 

And these are all the same reasons and why I would recommend design recruitment agencies freelance to you.

Now that’s my experience with freelancing, but what about you? Are you currently working full-time and looking to go freelance? Have you considered freelancing with design recruitment agencies before? 

If you have any questions regarding design recruitment agency freelance, be sure to pop them in the comment section below.