Freelancing from freelancers

With the ever-growing pressures of modern working life, the desire to find a suitable work/life balance that allows professionals to grow their career while still developing the personal aspirations that they deem important such as a family, relationships and a home, is a challenge.

It is, therefore, no surprise that the lure of flexibility and being able to have more control over time management is something that attracts professionals to make the freelance switch; alongside the opportunity to double their monthly take-home. However, there are still some negatives to consider, giving up full a full-time job means sacrificing the security that a monthly and consistent salary brings.

Major Players experienced a 30% increase in the number of freelance vacancies across the creative, digital and marketing industries over the past year. We’ve been chatting to some of our freelance collectives to uncover what drew them to make the switch and asked them to reveal some of their top tips for thriving as a freelancer.

Aimee Capstick

I was unhappy in my job - working long hours, sometimes all-nighters, and there was very little room to breathe, let alone be creative.

I’d always thought about taking the freelance leap but didn’t have the self-confidence or belief that I had enough contacts and steady clients. For about two years, I ran freelance work alongside my full-time job. The money was appealing, but lack of sleep and social life soon took its toll.

One of the most significant pieces of advice I can give is that your offering as a freelancer needs to be clear. I’m a bit of a jack of all trades, having worked in print, then for an animation agency, producing on-screen graphics for events, and then in advertising as a pitch designer. My portfolio was varied but clear, and that meant that recruiters knew where to place me.

Being organised is another crucial skill - spreadsheets of all your earnings and tax are vital, as are having separate bank accounts.

In the first year I guess I panicked and said ‘yes’ to everything, but once I settled into the flow of things, and I got my regular clients, I started being a bit more fussy about the work I took on.

In my opinion, the perks of freelancing far out-weigh those of being full time employed. Sure, I no longer get Bupa, but I also don’t have to start work until 11 if I don’t want to. I can spend the first part of my day going for a run and having a leisurely breakfast. I can also work wherever I want to - be that my sofa, or a week away in the middle of nowhere. Having ownership over my time and how I spend it, has been the most liberating thing about freelancing.

But when I’m busy, I’m swamped, and that means weekend work and the occasional late night. That’s all about time management and recognising what I’m capable of. Having breathing space around projects in case they overrun is vital.

Alex Townley

For me, freelancing is the dream from a creative and career perspective as it gives me a much broader scope to diversify my portfolio and connections me with the industry. Plus my working week is always different.

Working full-time I think you can get pigeon-holed into one specific area or genre, whether that is fashion, music, sports or travel. Freelancing allows me to explore all these different areas and broaden my skill set and knowledge to a much broader degree.

Being able to take a holiday and days off at my leisure, take control of my life and establish a comfortable work/life balance which works best for me is another serious bonus. Everyone needs that odd day off during the working week to relax or catch-up on some life admin.

I can also take on as many projects as I like in a week and double my income if I choose to. I often work day and night on some weeks, mainly if there’s a big holiday or purchase I want quickly. Working as a freelancer allows me to do this compared to a lot of full-time roles where there is a limit on what you can make in the month.

Another perk that freelancing generates is the opportunity to extended holidays and break away from the two-week time constraint the majority of workers face. I'm currently taking time off to relax amongst nature in Vietnam for six weeks and write a feature film screenplay that I've wanted to do for many years but never seemed to have the time to do before.

The only downside for me was taking control of my client list. The uncertainty of not knowing if you’re going to have enough money to pay the bills is stressful. However, after two/three years I have built a solid and reliable relationship with clients and worry a lot less about incoming bills. Also chasing clients for money can be stressful. Unfortunately, there are some corrupt companies out there so ensure you confirm all details regarding payments, dates and logistics in writing before beginning work for a new client. That's one particularly great thing about Major Players; there is a guaranteed weekly payment which gives real peace of mind.

Aldie Pretorius

Freelancing is a bit like being a map-maker and traveller all at once. You get really good at packing your essentials into a backpack, planning your routes and being super agile when selling in your creative ideas, so as to fit in quickly. You also end up asking for the WiFi password just as frequently as a tourist does!

Every new agency you walk into has its own unique landscape and culture. Being a freelancer is one of the best ways to get to see the inner workings and structures of successful marketing and communication businesses. It’s also a surefire way to stumble upon some amazing projects and meet interesting people around every corner.

This variety definitely keeps you on your toes, and the best thing you can do to make it work for you is to stay curious and entrepreneurial. There just isn’t the time or opportunity to become safe, complacent or path dependent (which is often what happens to permanent staff).

You are your own compass, and so you determine your path. That kind of freedom is something that rarely affordable as an adult. As a solopreneur, your self-development and career progress depends only on you. I find this aspect of it wonderfully challenging and also incredibly liberating. This open context has given me opportunities to start side-hustles, mentor students and do courses that have helped me ‘move up the career ladder’ without depending on the traditional in-company route.

Major Players have proven to be a great travel agent for my freelance journey. With their help, in the last two years, I’ve worked on everything from conservation projects for National Geographic, to public service campaigns for PREP (the revolutionary new HIV drug), to launching an espionage drama on FOX that rolls a well-informed opinion on war, into gripping entertainment.

Join the Major Collective

Major Players understands how important it is for freelancers to stay in the loop and become part of a wider community. That’s why we created the Major Collective. If you work through Major Players on at least three bookings after registering, you will be automatically enrolled on the scheme.

As a Major Collective freelancer, you’ll get the best bookings through our top clients, spaces for free training and access to flexible working at our Covent Garden office. A discounted payroll scheme is offered, free IPA membership, four Major Meetups throughout the year and the ultimate freelancer's party every summer.

So whether you are already a fully-fledged freelancer or new to the freelancing way of work, get in touch with our consultants for the latest news, active roles and to find out how you can join the Major Collective.