The creative industry is an identity minefield. There are companies who are really one person, individual freelancers who actually employ whole teams – and single creatives who are themselves brands. Deciding what you should be is a daunting task.
After leaving a full time agency position I wasn’t completely sure of how to present myself. Should I freelance or start my own agency? Work under my own name or invent one?
Initially I decided to freelance under my own name as it meant that any reputation I’d built wouldn’t go to waste. It’s also an easier sell to the creative agencies you’re looking to freelance for, as they’re very hesitant to let actual agencies – potential future competitors – into their space.
For over two years I freelanced under my own name, and was happy with that set up, until clients began coming to me directly. It was a great feeling, but I was still very much a sole freelancer moving from job-to-job; reliant on work coming to me. I realised that in order to grow I had to start pitching for work and building my own roster of clients.
So, I started pitching for larger briefs and collaborating with other freelance creatives to fulfill them. The feedback was good, but as I was still working under my real name, there was an assumption made by potential clients that I wasn’t established enough, with the available resources and skills to undertake their larger projects.
It probably didn’t help that I was still working from home at the time. It was limiting when it came to meeting clients, as you just knew they were wary of any ‘company’ that held meetings in coffee shops. So, all the signs were there: I needed to rebrand myself as an agency, move into a studio environment and finally build my own portfolio.
Once the change was made, I generally found that existing clients were happy for me. They wanted the studio to be a success and actively encouraged its growth. Some did have questions about rates (would I be putting them up?) and service (would I still be undertaking the creative work?) but after a little reassurance most were on board.
I’ve now been Lost and Found for 18 months, and the benefits of representing myself as an agency have been huge. For one, I’ve found that when it comes to self-promotion, people are likely to take an agency more seriously than an individual. Having an agency name also removes a sense of ego or individual personality from the business and instead represents a collective idea. I’d always felt uncomfortable trumpeting my own talents, and so being able to promote ‘Lost and Found’s’ work rather ‘Andy Hussey’s’ is a weight off my shoulders.
I guess the choice to remain a freelancer under your own name, or a business under a company name, is one of aspirations. Who are your target clients, do you want to run whole projects or complete work third party for other agencies – and are you happy promoting yourself? There’s no right or wrong answer, so it’s a case being honest about what works best for you.
LOST AND FOUND
Lost and Found are a multidisciplinary agency who embrace the opportunity to collaborate with creative partners.
Illustrated by Jason Smith
- One Thing I Know