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Income potential - freelance vs agency

Discussion in 'Graphic Design Forum' started by Scarlet-Hills, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. Scarlet-Hills

    Scarlet-Hills New Member

    Opus raised an interesting point on my last thread about reasons for turning freelance. The prospect of a higher income seems attractive to people sitting in an agency job earning less than say, 20k, particularly if they feel they are more talented than their salary would suggest. I suppose we all see the potential for more money being a long term prospect when we go solo, but how many of us actually achieve it? I suppose then it comes down to business savvy as well as creative talent. I was chatting to a local freelance copywriter the other day who used to work for a major PR company on a very good salary but decided to go freelance. Now he is struggling purely because he is, by his own admission, bad at self-marketing. I think the whole business/salesman side of things can really be what makes or breaks a freelancer, and why there are incredibly talented people earning peanuts while horrifically bad designers are getting a ton of work.

    Without discussing exact figures (due partly to the rules of this forum and partly to us being terribly British and frowing upon discussing ones salary) how many of you freelancers have found that you're earning more than you were/would be if you had stuck with an agency job?

  2. Opus

    Opus Member

    In year one of going freelance I pretty much matched my previous salary. This year I've not quite earned the same amount in terms of what has ended up in my personal bank account, however this has in part been because I've taken the decision to invest a certain amount back into the company and into training myself in some of the business areas (such as prospecting for and attracting new clients) that I have less experience in. I think the aim of eventually earning more than I would have done by remaining in agency employment remains an achievable one, however it is (and always was) a long term goal.

    I think that it all depends on your priorities and your motivations for going freelance - if you're not prepared to invest in your business (both in terms of time and money) in the first years of setting up a company/becoming self employed I suspect it may be difficult in many cases to dramatically increase your salary in the long run. In most cases it doesn't just happen - you have to hope that you get the eventual rewards for making some sacrifices and putting in hard work in the initial years of the business.

  3. johnthecoach

    johnthecoach New Member

    Hi Rob,

    I would say it depends on the industry you are in. In IT, for example, the business-side, in terms of finding work, is taken care of by agencies. Other structures have been tried and I, for one, would love to see clients and contractors being more pro-active, but old habits die hard.

    Your point about the business-angle and the skill-set there is spot on. Maybe they don't get the recognition because they are largely invisible.

    But when business people talk, it's one eye on the conversation and the other on where it's going and the benefits.

    It's a bit like snooker and positioning the ball. :)


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