To play the field or to settle down: the pros and cons of freelancing in adland

After leaving a permanent job at TBWA in 2005 I (Nat) went freelance. Lol’s relatively new to it and is enjoying it so far – but I thought I’d compile a personal list revealing the true pros and cons of how I find the freelance lifestyle, and why I’ve chosen to stick with it so long…


– When you get one job, you have to organize the next one. You have to constantly be on the lookout for work. It’s never ending.

– You feel like the ‘New’ Person all the time, and that can be draining.

– You have to do a tax return.

– You don’t know what to talk about when you bump into strangers in the lifts.

– You don’t know how the tea politics works so you go without tea for days.

– You have to keep all your receipts, which can and does lead to a cluttered bedroom

– You have to do a tax return.

– You rarely get to produce anything so you rarely get to steal chocolates from Angel Sound and order nice lunches whilst in edits.

– You don’t get sick pay.

– You never know where anything is, such as the all important ‘post tray’.

– When your partner’s away it’s difficult to get work on your own.

– You have to do a tax return.


– You get paid considerably more.

– You pay lots less tax.

– You get invited to multiple agency summer and Christmas parties.

– You decide when you take holidays. You can take as many as you want AND go for more than 2 weeks.

– You’re always on your toes, which keeps things exciting. Every week / month it’s a different journey to work, a different office, different people, different briefs.

– You’re out of office politics.

– You work lots and lots of brands, in many media. We’ve worked on everything from digital, to ATL, experiential and everything in between. Freelance definitely broadens your outlook.

– You get to see how agencies all do things so differently.
Through my years of freelance I have been offered permanent jobs but at the time I haven’t wanted to give up freelancing. Of course if the right permanent thing came along we would commit again once more. It’s very much like relationships – it’s fun being promiscuous and playing the field, but eventually it’s nice to find something more meaningful and monogamous. On the whole, as great as freelancing is, it’s quite obvious that you need to be permanent somewhere to get work out and move up in the career ladder.
As a freelancer you kind of move horizontally. Saying that, it can sometimes be years before you see a project through to fruition, even in a permanent role. I’ve actually been quite lucky and have seen a few things through even in freelance jobs.  

What does everyone else think? Which is better?


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