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Existing freelancers: would you go back to full-time work?

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum' started by dmd, Apr 17, 2007.

  1. dmd

    dmd New Member

    I'm almost in my third year of freelance work and, as time passes, I find myself becoming less and less interested and seduced by full time employment.

    Sure, the security is a big draw but I'm of the opinion that a good freelancer will always get work.

    So, is there anyone out there fed up with not having a boss to bitch about or having to sort out the tax (thank god for accountants!). I'd love to hear your views.

    Obviously try not to reply at 2am, in the middle of finishing another rush job! Level headed responses only!
  2. MickeyFinn

    MickeyFinn Administrator

    I think I am past being able to take on a permie job again to be honest, I am pretty much unemployable. Likewise, been freelancing for 3 years or so and feel so used to managing my own time and working to deadlines that having to be in an office by 9am and clock watching until 5.30pm would kill me.

    Sorting out tax? That's what accountants do isn't it? Worth every penny to be honest and my most valuable piece of advice to new freelancers is to get an accountant immediately! If you are not earning enough to pay an accountant then I would suggest going back to a desk job until you are skilled enough to earn a good enough hourly rate to afford one as the loss of weekends and evenings to sort out accounts was the most miserable part of my first year or so!

    Yup, a good freelancer will always find work - no doubt about it. Proof of skill from previous work and a reasonable hourly rate, right place, right time - result.

    Nope. Only got the mother-in-law to moan about now ;)
  3. dmd

    dmd New Member

    I made sure I got an accountant from the off. The thought of filling in a tax return form was far too daunting. Plus they know what they are doing and pretty much paid for themselves several times over.

    The biggest downside is the feeling that you'll never be part of a 'team', no matter how long you work for an agency. I suppose you grow thick skinned after a while. On the plus side, you don't get wrapped up in the office politics (which was one reason I decided to try freelancing).

    What I certainly don't miss is, like MickeyFinn said, the monotony of turning up to the same place, sitting at the same drab desk (despite the wacky desk accoutrements) and churning out the same old jobs because that's what the company see as your 'core strengths'.

    I remember I used the phrase 'stuck in a rut' on a daily basis when I was in the last year of full time employment. Now, although the work is sporadic as I am in the process of really building my freelancer 'brand' I feel so much more satisfied, even when having to do the mundane jobs.

    So, until Vaughan Oliver calls me up and asks me to work for him I think i'll stick to being my own little company.
  4. TheCrewDesigns

    TheCrewDesigns New Member

    Very interesting to read this from someone who is on the other side of the fence (employed) and HOPING to get into freelancing. I have had a company set up for some time when someone scared me about taxes when I was doing small jobs for people. We do our tax return on line and seems easy enough. I WISH I needed an accountant as I only know a few people around here who I know will be customers. Just need to find more now..maybe time for some flyers etc....
  5. SpencerUp

    SpencerUp New Member

    Very interesting to read your comments on this. As I am totally new to the industry I suppose I will find that I need to go through full time employment to gain the experience I will require to go freelance. I am currently working in a completely different industry although as of yesterday (When I picked up my MAC!) I am starting to learn all the relevant softeware at home whilst still working, hoping to slowly put together a portfolio.

    Just out of interest though, if you guys (the professionals!!) were trying to gain new business, what way would you go about it? Flyers, Brochures?
  6. elastic

    elastic New Member


    Working in industry first isn’t just about learning the trade – although that’s a major part of it. Its also a ‘way in’ to agency contracts when you go it alone. Every person you used to work with? That’s a lead. Every company you outsourced to, every company you bought stuff from, even the competition you pitched against. All potential paths to work.

    Oh, and, ha. yes, you get into the habit of assessing everyone you meet as a potential client. That lovely couple you met at the BBQ? The ones that have their own business?

    That’s a job right there. ;-)
  7. Windy

    Windy New Member

    I've been freelancing (in agency's offices) in the NW since I was about 18 (30 this year) and I had one 'full-time' contract where I was on staff-wages with staff-holidays, sick-pay, etc, and I'd never go back for many reasons.

    Mainly money to be honest. I'm a designer with a very strong artworking background so can present creative concepts and take them through to production if required. My hourly rate's £20-25. There's also the variation of work/clients/colleagues/place of work that keeps the boredom away! I love freelancing!!!

    But... I can't see myself freelancing past 45, so that's when I'll really have to consider my future options, but I think it's more likely to be setting up an agency of my own/with a partner than becoming a slave to the wage.

    As it's been said, if you're good and have a good reputation, you'll always get work. This year, I've had 1 day so far that I haven't found work, and last year the total was only 5 days, though having said that, I'm always meeting freelancers who say that they haven't worked in weeks and sometimes months!!! I think along with skill/quality, you also need a pretty good personality and be able to 'fit-in' quite quickly. Most people say to me that after a few days I feel like part of the team, which is nice to hear!

    The only benefits I can see to full-time are the relationship you gain with clients, and the career prospects. I've never found job security an issue, even though I spend money like it's going out of fashion! Even the paid holidays doesn't really attract me, though with my girlfriend having 6 weeks holiday a year, I suppose it does 'cost' me a fair few ££'s...

    So I'd never go full time, even if I spawn little-Windys!
  8. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Back to full time?

    I have been employed on a full time basis for the past 40 years and more or less hated all of it.
    What I would like to do is to get in to freelance copy writing and would appreciate and tips / hints on how to make the first move or get the first contract.
    What's the best route?
  9. Jim

    Jim New Member

    Back to full time?

    I have been employed on a full time basis for the past 40 years and more or less hated all of it.
    What I would like to do is to get in to freelance copy writing and would appreciate and tips / hints on how to make the first move or get the first contract.
    What's the best route?
  10. meld

    meld New Member

    Back to full time

    Hi, I have just taken the plunge and gone back to full time employment after being freelance for four years. Basically, one of my clients who I did a lot of work for offered me a permanent part time position 4 days a week. It took me a long time to decide whether to do this and in the end I went with it and so far, so good.

    basically,I was in a good negotiating position as they asked me to work for them, suddenly I have health cover, a pension and just had my eyes tested all for nothing, all of the above I had been very slack on as a freelancer. Also general feeling of security, a guaranteed income every month, not having to work all hours of the night, and of course no more invoicing/accounts etc. Also I can actually take holidays rather than worry how to pay the mortgage while not working.

    The down side:
    Having to commute into an office, having a boss, less variety of work, losing independence and of course money - I have taken a dip in earnings and being PAYE means that you pay more tax as you can't claim expenses. However, at least you know what you will get every month.

    One thing I will recommend is that if you are interested in going back on the books of a company try and get a part time position, as you can be employed and self-employed at the same time - best of both worlds!!!

    Good luck

  11. MickeyFinn

    MickeyFinn Administrator

    Hey Mel, well done on making the decision to go back to the permie job. Saw your earlier post and just did not get time to reply.

    Good that you have made a decision - the big one for me would be holidays! I have not had a real holiday since goig freelance. Some of this due to the work that I do, some of it due to having a kiddie during this time, and some of it due to me being a slack git! At least if you have x weeks off as a permie you make sure you take them and plan what you are going to do etc.

    A couple of cliches for you:
    1 - no job is for life
    2 - once a freelancer always a freelancer

    Enjoy a year or two of health cover, pensions and holidays but each day you will get increasingly bored of the 9-5... Let us know when you go full time freelance again won't you :laugh2

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