Hello again, Freedom!
Why a creative decides and leaves the agency to again embrace the uncertainty of freelancing? People are different from each other; some of us tolerate more, some less, some appreciate the security of having a regular cashflow, while the other need to see the list of their creative endeavors, when looking back. Let's see why some of the creatives chose to thank for the cooperation, shake hands and let the future take them by surprise.
The good intentions – to feed a certain number of families, to generate cashflow and possibly profit – bring in projects (one way or another), a freelancer would not touch with a stick. Projects that demand no creativity, but strong nerves, persistence and brains switched off. Projects that waste time and where the only creativity needed is the one that makes possible for a 4-page brochure to get stuffed into a little print ad with materials that are unsuitable for print or for public use, for a client that can let neither the money go nor you to do your job properly. Projects that tend to stop in the middle and the projects you would never show to anyone. If such projects find their way to your desk once or twice a year, that's fine, but if they become your business fil rouge … The freelancer decides for himself what projects he takes.
There are clients who appreciate your work and are aware that you solve their problems (to communicate their company, products or services to their audience with the intention to sell them). They trust you as you trust their products or services you use. And there are clients who know your business better than you do, and need just a "hairdresser", someone to execute their vision listening to their instructions, make their logo bigger, move this one millimeter to the left and that two millimeters lower (doing so endlessly). The freelancer can ditch a client like that, what about the creative at the agency?
A creative works continuously – you don't just stop being what you are when you leave the office. Driving home, waiting in the line at the cash-register, standing in the shower, your brain keeps grinding something, that needs to get done within the set deadline. That's right – a creative does not have any office hours, he/she has deadlines. Being a freelancer the fixed office hours tend to be something abstract. You're fully aware of when the project needs to be finished and that's it. Hanging in the office just to spend your work day or for your management to see you in there is a nebulous idea. Just as an idea cannot be found in a certain place it cannot be found at a certain time – but it can appear within the set deadline. While you work when it suits you, sometimes at 4.00 AM, sometimes late at night.
"How many hours will it take you to finish this project?" is a question that gives you the creeps. As many as I'll need to create a sollution that will make both of us, me and the client happy and where I can learn something new, right? Right – if you're a freelancer.
"How many hours did it take you to finish this project?" Ummmm … Don't know, I haven't activated the stopwatch, I don't care, but I'm satisfied with the result and so is the client, says the freelancer, while the employed creative spends another half a day to figure it out.
Ummm, that's the tough one. I guess every freelancer accepting a full-time position at the agency beleives he would eventually prove he deserves to be trusted, doing his work, showing the attitude and results. Because it wouldn't make sense to waste time doing nothing, as you can never fool yourself – plus pretending to work usually takes a lot more energy than actually do the work. The project manager brought the project in, you finished it, the project manager billed the client, end of story … If you're a frelancer.
A weird bunch
In some of the agencies, the creative department is a necessary evil – you need them to slave away at the project, otherwise they're pretty much useless. Plus they're weirdos uncapable to communicate and constantly complaining how they need this or that to do their job. The freelancer is the king of the castle, who knows exactly how much he's worth, and doesn't owe anyone any explanation.
One Euro plus one Euro
The creativity cannot be measured in time or in money, the price list has the billing hours or the products specified. Creativity, however, is personal – everyone is creative in their own way and contributes his own piece to the puzzle. It is sometimes just right to fit in, sometimes it's bigger or smaller, edgy or rounded – but anyone who gathers the team, has to acknowledge the reasons why he has chosen someone. If the reasons are wrong and they don't really know their creatives, then the expectations on both sides are unrealistic, the bad mood and frustration arise, which can eventually lead to the break-up of the team. Obviously we all need to save, but if the creative feels he's being underpaid, and the one paying him thinks that creatives grow on trees, then the love dies.
And yes – better equipment makes better results.
"There are people waiting for your job in line"
Working at the ad agency – the coolest job in the world – is an emotional relationship first, ratio comes later. Creatives love their work and they invest themselves as much as possible in the projects they feel were meant for them. All they wish is for their "selves" to get noticed and appreciated. Their "selves" sets them appart from other creatives and if that is not acknowledged by their team and management, they slowly cease to persist. Being unacknowledged by people you spend most of your time with hurts more than the low pay. "Noone is irreplacable and there are hundred guys waiting to take your position!" Well, let them in …
People differ from each other, as we have stressed at the beginning, so this writing is not to be generalized. Some of us appreciate the comfort zone or have still much to learn from their older colleagues, while the other settle for anything just to get through from that day of the month till the next. But those, who came to the agency to grow (and help the agency grow), and remain unnoticed, will sooner or later wave their hand and bang the door behind.
The employees are the real agency's capital – all of them, from the cleaning lady, noone ever sees, because the clean desk is taken for granted, to the agency's first face, the receptionist who leaves the first impression to the client, to project managers who keep in touch with the clients and make their wishes come true, to the creatives who'd also love some of their wishes to come true, to the management, whose eyes either shine bright for the fantastic campaign or flash the Euro signs. And that's what makes a creative either say "Goodbye, Freedom!" or "Hello again, Freedom!"