If you are a freelancer, you are part of a growing trend that is reshaping the landscape of work in America and around the world. In fact, experts believe that 40% of the workforce will be freelancers by 2020, which is amazing! And not that far away!
However, all is not roses and unicorns. There are some issues that affect freelancers that need to be worked out. Many people think of these issues in terms of freelancers vs big design agencies. But I actually think that both parties will be most successful if they can figure out how to work together to achieve their goals.
I believe that there is a huge opportunity right now for agencies and freelancers to forge a new kind of partnership for the future, one that benefits both.
One issue is confidentiality and the inability to share your work with prospective clients. Successful freelancers are always looking for new work and trying to land new clients. However, because much of it is proprietary or confidential, they might be unable to share it on their website or social media, which are major players when getting new clients.
I do understand the confidentiality issue, but I think there's opportunity to loosen up a little. Designers create a lot of GORGEOUS shit that never makes it out into the world...or even into Phase B. Some of this could be shared (or at least alluded to) in social media/web portfolios! Can you imagine creating something beautiful, that makes you smile and your heart swell with pride, but you have to keep it tucked away in a corner where no one can see it...forever?
Another issue is that freelancers are often not given credit for their designs shown, esp if working for someone else and not directly with the client. They may be treated like a secret backroom deal, where the client doesn't know who did what.
IMO, design agencies should always credit freelancers when sharing their work, just like freelancers credit agencies in the same situation. It's the right thing to do, and it benefits both parties.
For freelancers, it helps build name recognition (since they probably aren't getting face time with that client) and they get access to bigger projects and brands by working with an agency.
For agencies, it makes them more attractive to the BEST freelancers. If freelancers know they'll get credit for their work and be able to share it at some point (or have flexibility with posts), they'll be more likely to want to work with that agency again.
Asking freelancers to do work and not ever be able to show it, talk about it, advertise it OR get credit for it creates an unfair playing field. When that field gets close to 50/50, old rules and practices are going to shift.
The world is always going to need huge design agencies. And it's always going to need freelancers and small boutique shops. With the role of design only growing in importance, there's enough work to go around for everyone, and depending on the project, there's good reason to choose one or the other. The sooner that freelancers and agencies can figure out how to best navigate the new landscape, the better for everyone.I firmly believe that the agencies that figure out this partnership first are the ones who are going to benefit most.
Are you a freelancer or agency struggling with these issues? Share your ideas for what you think should be done or what you currently do!