Freelance versus Employed


By David Milligan-Croft, Creative Director / Strategist / Writer

December 8, 2010 | 3 min read

What’s the difference between an employed person and a freelancer?

Me, as a junior creative

Suit: The client doesn’t like it, you’ll have to do it again.

Employee: You couldn’t sell a hanging man a penknife, you useless twat.

Suit: The client doesn’t like it, you’ll have to do it again.

Freelancer: No problemo, Kemo Sabe. Kerrching!

Okay, so it’s a bit glib. But there’s an element of truth in there. Perhaps not as superficial as first seems though.

When you’re an employee, you’re passionate. (Or should be.) It’s your vocation. And when you’re a freelancer you are a service provider. And therefore, more versed in the black art of diplomacy.

In my experience an employee’s motivation is for the[ir] work. While a freelancers motivation is for their client’s satisfaction.

It doesn’t mean that freelancers don’t care about doing great work too. (I hope I can vouch for that.) It’s just that, as a freelancer I am less “attached” to my work. Get 20 creatives in a room with the same brief and chances are you’ll get 20 different solutions. Ergo, there’s always another way.

I saw this interesting post about ‘Freelancers Worth’ on the Creative Times website. And, being a freelancer of slightly longer teeth than most, I concurred wholeheartedly.

The bottom line is: What are the merits of Experience over Value?

“Did this ad take 10 minutes to conceive, or 25 years?”

When you employ an experienced creative, you’re not just buying creative solutions, but experience of similar problems / solutions encountered before. You’re probably also buying a bit of strategy thrown in for good measure. Not to mention maturity and the realisation that the work has to sell, not just win gongs and adorn someone’s book.

“The thing about paying someone slightly less, is you’re probably not getting value for money. Spend £1 on an experienced freelancer get £10 return. Alternatively, spend 0.85p on a less experienced freelancer and get £5 return.”

The maths do themselves. But read it for yourself.

P.S. I don’t charge £1 per day.


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