Media agencies are one of the strongest supporters of the freelance economy, frequently employing contractors and sole traders. In this opinion piece, Cameron Rambert founder of Freelance Australia details five things you shouldn’t do when freelancing at an agency:
1) Misinterpret the rules
Freelancers have the luxury of dipping in and out of work as they please: reaping the benefits that come with an agency experience while avoiding all forms of commitment. Having an agency for a client often feels like the perfect relationship for many. The better the relationship the easier it is to screw it up.
Every agency is different and so is each of their brands. Forming assumptions too soon about how an agency operates can be the fastest route to screwing up a brief and ensuring that you won’t earn any repeat business. Enter every new agency experience with a fresh perspective and remain open to new working styles that may seem a little different to your own.
2) Misinterpret your role
Freelancers are hired on the basis that they have a specialisation in a particular skill or field. It’s important that you understand the expectations of your role early in your working relationship and what is required of you based on your specialty. Are you a mercenary or a mastermind? A producer or a thinker? You may think you’re being hired to deliver your specialty – but each brief is different. The definitions are subtle, but immensely critical.
3) Avoid confrontation
As a freelancer, you’re often free of any confrontation that stems from office gossip and politics. However, when it comes to you managing stakeholders and meeting deadlines, its imperative that you speak up for yourself in order to get the support you need, even if it means confronting others.
An agency is no place for passivity, so being assertive while being respectful of the culture and personalities involved can help you get things done. Nobody is going to actively look out for you – take it upon yourself to ask the right questions to deliver your best work.
4) Work ambiguously
It’s better to feel stupid asking questions than it is to look stupid explaining why the deliverables you worked on don’t satisfy the brief.
Agencies are so busy at times that it’s not uncommon to find yourself working on tasks or projects that lack a clearly defined brief. Avoid ambiguously defined work at all costs by asking as many questions as you need to clear up expectations.
5) Over-promise and under-deliver
Agencies are in the business of ideas and that can attract big egos and inflated promises. Don’t fall in this trap. It’s better to commit to something manageable and flourish than it is to overcommit and to flounder.
All that matters in your time freelancing at an agency is the quality of work you complete and the impression you leave. Make it your business to get clear on the deliverables, be respectful of your colleagues and delivering your best work.
On Australia’s first National Freelance Day on November 12, eight experts will discuss the future of work at General Assembly and how the freelance economy can keep up. A panel of experts will cover everything from marketing your own personal brand, managing finances, branding, leveraging social media and going from a sole trader to an intrapreneur within agencies and brands at the free event.