From year to year the number of art and creative graduates who choose freelancing over full-time jobs increases. But is the juice worth the squeeze? News editor Olena weighs in.
Rephrasing the Irish writer, Derek Landy, it’s fair to say that ‘office doors are for people with no imagination or creative degree’. Why? Because the future has already arrived. Today the internet connects not just people from around the world but employers with employees as well. Hundreds of networking platforms make possible the old dream of working from wherever you like.
In 2016, creative industries in the UK accounted for 40% of freelance and self-employed jobs. Most believe that freelance jobs come from design and publishing sectors, but that’s just a tip of an iceberg. The London National Theatre offered 2,900 freelance jobs in 2016-17, which included choreographers, costume supervisors, illustrators, playwrights and more.
When it comes to creative workflow, a 9-to-5 setting simply doesn’t fit in the fast-paced world. This leads desperate yet determined graduates to choosing flexible hours and creative freedom over fixed income and office environment. But is it worth it?
Going out on your own
One big pro is a huge market for freelancers in all career fields. More and more large companies are opting for contractual staff with specific skills tailored to their projects. It gives freelancers a great opportunity to test the grounds and decide which type of companies (corporations or start-ups) and projects (short-term or long-term) suit their professional interests.
“Working a full-time job for three to four years is the best way to build a strong network of professional connections and go freelance with peace of mind”
Though most of the time the work is mixed and depends on where you get your orders from. Flexible working – when you decide where to work and how long your working day takes – is a seductive advantage of freelancing. Yet it takes a lot of time and hard work to get all the benefits and make a living.
There are lots of professional communities to help freelancers working in IT, design, advertising, and publishing get started. These network platforms were created specifically for creative matchmaking between creative specialists and employers:
- Working Not Working (connects large companies with creatives)
- The Supply (represents highly specialized digital talent to potential employers)
- The Idealists (a community of talent and clients)
- Dribbble and Scoutzie (provide more connections-based ways for freelancers to find the right work)
- Creative Pool (a network for agencies and brands to hire creative freelancers)
Creatives in Bath
We’re in a great city for creative freelancing, as there are lots of communities in Bath that connect freelancers with employers and companies. Take a look at Creative Bath, a hub for businesses and freelancers that has been supporting the local creative associations since 2008. Here you can find not only co-working spaces but also trainings, business support, and funding. Working in such an open-space atmosphere helps to expand the network of professional and personal contacts that could benefit one’s career perspectives.
The Guild is a popular co-working hub that offers its members a unique space for work in Bath. Tom Lewis, founder and CEO of The Guild, told us that they are “described by some as ‘LinkedIn for the real world’ because we offer 3,500 square feet of space for freelancers and their creative projects. Add to that showers, unlimited tea, and high-speed WiFi, and it will make for the best work environment.”
A tough break for newbies
But now we approach the first and main con of being a freelancer— a strong network of contacts and potential clients, which is a tricky thing to get for a novice. Majority of freelance websites like UpWork and People Per Hour offer a range of small tasks from different companies and individuals in the form of bidding. The chance of getting a particular task or order increases with one’s reputation and experience. This gets the freelancer trapped in the endless circle: to get more orders one needs reputation, and to get a good reputation one needs experience.
“Start with creating a flawless profile, which will not only demonstrate your skills but will also offer a solution to a client’s problem”
As Lilla B., a freelance digital designer from London, comments: “There are always gonna be brick walls on your way to success. The brick walls are here to show us how much we want something and how many obstacles we need to overcome to get there.”
Becoming a brand: the recipe for success
Don’t give up after several rejections. The most valuable advice to a novice freelancer is to turn themselves into a brand. Start with creating a flawless profile, which will not only demonstrate your skills but will also offer a solution to a client’s problem. For example, if you are a copywriter, write your bio in the form and style of an ad so that it will sell your services to the client.
If you don’t succeed after six months of constant bidding and offering your services to capricious clients, then getting a full-time job is a good solution. Freelancers who earn monthly salaries with three zeros give the same advice to novices: working a full-time job for three to four years is the best way to build a strong network of professional connections and go freelance with peace of mind.
If you’re stuck at a crossroads and don’t know which direction to choose, there are lots of people who are ready to help. Digital Freelancer is an online community, where you can ask for advice and get valuable tips from fellow freelancers. Being self-employed doesn’t mean you will be left on your own. A freelance job is all about becoming independent yet staying connected to the whole world. Join in and see for yourself.
Are you considering becoming a freelancer? Leave us a comment telling us what you think the pros and cons are of this flexible lifestyle.