When first becoming a freelancer it is very tempting to say yes to every bit of work that comes your way, but trust me, it’s not always the best way.
When I first started out I literally did everything, large format graphics, signage, brochures, leaflets, business cards, websites, and the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, the money was great, but I found a lot of my time was taken up doing silly little jobs. It wasn’t until 3 years in (and some guidance from my fiancée) that I took a hard look at everything I did, and started to focus my energy.
I decided that I was going to start working with an agency, which was easier said than done. There are so many agencies out there, and most of them are rubbish.
Working with an agency
I must admit, at first I was a bit sceptical about joining with an agency. For starters you either have to get paid by an umbrella company (so basically giving away large amounts of your money), or be a Limited Company, as they won’t pay Sole Traders directly. I’ll go over the difference between those in a bit. Then there is also the fact that you have to go into different offices all the time, which can be daunting; it is hard to make a good first impression on clients, even harder when you have to do it on a daily basis.
Having worked with an agency now for a few years now, I can honestly say that I am converted. My agency of choice is Blue Skies, they are a really nice team to work with. I have found that agencies are professional, and believe me, there is plenty of work out there. All work is booked on a whole day basis, and could be for months at a time. This always worked better for me, because instead of having to do a lot of little jobs in a day and charging bit by bit, I get paid for a full day’s work.
Sole Trader vs. Limited
I was a Sole Trader for about 3 years, and it was brilliant. There are obviously a lot of tax benefits of being a Sole Trader and there is a lot less paperwork than a Limited company. All that being a Sole Trader requires is for you to stay on top of your paperwork (I found an hour of admin a week really helps), and an annual tax return. I used to do mine online myself, and there is more than enough information around to find out how to do it.
It wasn’t until I started working with Agencies that I decided to change to a Limited Company. It was really easy to change over. The Companies House website lets you do everything in a few minutes, and if you are organised enough you can be up and running in a few weeks. The only thing that took a while for me was setting up the business bank account.
So in summary, the pros far outweight the cons. Find the right agency, and you won’t be sorry.