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Freelance versus Employed

…is about ideas. Ideas that make people think, make people smile, make people laugh, make people change the way they behave. It’s about creativity. Creativity in advertising and design. Creativity in the field of poetry, literature and screenplays. It’s about art. Sharing it, discovering it. Trying to understand it. It’s about getting things done. Not waiting for someone else to do it, or relying on someone else to get it done for you. As Mahatma Gandhi said: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I have over 25 years experience in the ad industry working for agency brands such as: DDB; TBWA; BBDO; O&M and McCann’s as a CD / AD / CW. I have won over 100 awards, including Cannes; D&AD; One Show; Campaign and Epica. For brands such as: VW; Audi; Carlsberg; Black & White Whisky, Smirnoff, Coors, Cadbury’s; Coca-Cola; Heinz; Peugeot; Nissan and Meteor to name a few.

I’m also a published writer, I was short listed for the Independent on Sunday Short Story Competition in 1997. My short story, “Woman’s Best Friend”, also appears in the IOS New Stories published by Bloomsbury.

My poetry has been widely published in Ireland, Britain and the US in anthologies and periodicals such as: The U.S. Literary Review, Envoi, Cyphers, Electric Acorn, W.P. Monthly, Lifelines 3, The Haiku Quarterly and The Amnesty International Anthology: Human Rights Have No Borders.

I am the author of six feature length screenplays, six short films, a collection of short stories, a poetry collection and my first novel which contains 85,000 words, some of which are in the correct order.

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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