How to successfully freelance for agencies

Image courtesy of Death to Stock

With an uncertain economy, businesses are facing difficult times, and the knock-on effect is a lack of jobs and many people being made redundant. One of the positive things to come out of a recession is the boost in freelancers and start-ups.

Nowhere has experienced a surge of freelancers more than the creative industries. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there, all competing for freelance work with larger agencies. And agencies are happy to hire them because it's cost-effective, flexible and utterly suitable during a downturn.

But as the market is currently saturated with freelancers, all competing for the same work from the same agencies, how do you make sure you're someone who gets hired again, beating off the competition? Mainly as larger agencies can be fickle? Here are some tips to ensure you successfully freelance for other businesses.

Do make an effort to fit in

When you first start working for an agency, try very hard to fit in – not just with the people but with the way they work. You want to become part of the team and make yourself indispensable quickly. Be someone they consider part of the family and don't tread on any toes. Be wise to avoid upsetting the relationship by being aware of any potential politics and act accordingly.

Don't be cocky

Whether you're a freelance graphic designer, copywriter or front-end developer, don't be arrogant or cocky. Remember, you're a freelancer, and the agency is an agency. They've been around a lot longer than you and have made a success of their own business. Respect that and respect the people you're working for. Don't think you know it all and try to argue doing things 'your way'. Respect the agency's way of doing things and follow their own rules.

Do go the extra mile

Agencies love working with freelancers who go above and beyond the call of duty. What do I mean by this? Well, I'm not saying agencies will expect you to do things for free. I think that successful freelancers are the ones who are pro-active, passionate and put 100 per cent into every project. If you show your client that you're excited about the work while making your suggestions on how to make the project successful, then they'll only be impressed.

Don't take the money and run

Ok, so it's true – none of us like working for someone else. And most of us will be keen to get paid and move on to the next project as soon as possible. But having this kind of attitude alone does you no favours. Try and have a passion for every job you take on. Be sincerely interested in the work and care about the agency doing well. Don't just be motivated by getting paid. Get further job satisfaction by keeping your client happy.

Do be readily available

When an agency hires you, they'll need you to be reliable and available. They'll need to know that they can get a hold of you at any time, ensuring the project is on the right track. Don't disappear – be available, as it adds to that reassurance that you're focusing on their work.

Don't assume anything

If you're not sure about something, ask! Don't ever expect anything when it comes to agencies. Every business is different, and what might've worked for one client, might not be the same for someone else. If in doubt, speak up.

Do be flexible

Agencies love flexible freelancers. They want to be able to work with people who are prepared to meet their way of working. Adapt to their needs, not your own. If an agency wants you to work from its offices, do it! Working from home isn't amazing – the novelty soon wears off. Be flexible, work to their requirements, and you'll be laughing.

Don't stop the communication

If you're working on a project with an agency, make sure you stay in regular contact. Keep your client posted on what's happening at all times. Regular updates will hold you in good stead with any agency, so don't stop communicating.

Do the odd little freebie

If you're getting lots of regular work from an agency, show some loyalty in return by offering the occasional little freebie, i.e. fix any small problems for free. It will give your client a warm feeling and will solidify your relationship. Don't get into a habit of giving everything away for free. Just learn to recognise those occasions when a little free support will go a long way to strengthening your ties.