Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How to get a job in advertising

Chapter 6-Freelancing
So you did a bunch of interviews, but the phone isn’t exactly ringing off the hook. Well, these things take time. And luckily, you did get one phone call. An agency has asked if you would like to do some freelancing, and they want you to start tomorrow!

So what are you waiting for? Put on some jeans and your most ironic t-shirt and head to your first professional advertising gig.

You have arrived.
Well look at you. Your own cube. The crappy hand-me-down computer that no one else wants. You have totally made it. Hey, who’s that next door? It’s your cubical neighbor! Maybe you should pay them a visit. Well, that didn’t go so well. They were kind of…cold. It’s not your fault. You see, as a new freelancer, you are sort of a ghost person. No one is sure if you’re going to be there for a day or a decade. So people tend to be cautious about making attachments. (Note: If you are a wildly attractive man or woman this is not true.)

So with no hope of human interaction, you might as well get to work. What will you be working on? Usually when an agency hires freelancers it’s because they are swamped. So there will be lots of work to do. Copywriters may find themselves writing tons of TV scripts (cool) or even naming a product (shitty). Art Directors may find themselves working on layouts that some other AD started. (If you find yourself completing another AD’s layout, one of two things will be true. One, the other AD will have not labeled his layers. Two, the specs will be WRONG.)

So now that you’re a freelancer. It might be a good time to look at the Pluses and Minuses.

The Money-WOW! Look at that day rate! You’re making a fortune. Who cares if you never get a full-time gig? This is way better!

You don’t get health insurance. So you either have to self-insure, or you have to real careful crossing the street. And you might want to give Grandma a call and see if anything runs in the family. If you can’t talk to Grandma because she is dead, you definitely need health insurance.

I can work anytime I want!

You work anytime they want you. Dry spells can be loooong.

Shit! I finally got a fulltime job. Now I have to stop freelancing!
Uh, no you don’t. You see all creatives continue to do freelance work even after they become salaried employees. (Account people don’t get to do this. We figure they make their extra money buy skimming off the media budget.) Many creatives are quite open about doing freelance work, at work. They’ll use company printers to print their layouts. They’ll spend most of the day working on a pitch. I’ve seen creative duck out early when the agency is in full crisis mode, because they have a meeting with their freelance client. You’d think people would get in trouble for this, but almost no one ever does. The Creative directors are probably too busy doing their freelance jobs to notice.

A note on permalance.
Sometimes, when and agency is very confused, it will pay a freelancer for years. This is called permalance. You get all the benefits of a fulltime gig and the high pay of a freelancer. If you ever find yourself in this position, stay there.


Patrick McCormack said...

What about when your agency makes you pinky swear (in writing) to not freelance -- is that a big no-no or does anyone even care?

adhack said...

I suppose if you put something in writing, you might want to keep it on the DL.

Joker said...

Permalance, oh so true. I've actually pondered the possibility of being freelance all the time. But it is true, most Creatives I know have side gigs, myself included. Shit if you ever need anything translated from English to Spanish or vice versa don't be shy and give me a call. That's how whorish we can be he he. But if you're asked by your agency insists on you not freelancing, then damn, someone finally noticed. I can say that CD's, ACD's, CW's, AD's and anyone with a job that can be summed in 2-3 letters has a second trash folder where they keep all their freelances (if you look hard enough you'll also find the porn folder).

As for putting something in writing, try and see what the conditions of breaking said pinky swear might be because unless you work in conflicting brands, I'm not too sure there's any legitimate reason for you not to freelance and if there is, trust me, getting caught is a chore in itself.