Working as a designer for an agency and as a designer as a freelancer are different things that have their pros and cons. I can tell you what I think of it as of being back as a freelancer since August 2019 once again.
Never think the world is coming to an end even after losing a dream job, as the next one can be the one you need.
Designer for an agency
Now from what I can say from working with two agencies, their are different styles that each bring to the table when I worked with them: one being a designer that can extend the level to see how far we can go vs. being one that has to stick into a norm and limit my expectations by doing so. The whole experience was one that made me learn and grow from being with the different companies that I worked with over the years of my time as a designer and developer.
- Stable projects each month coming in
- This one thing that I enjoyed working with my most recent agency in Colorado. I was able to constantly have a new client to work with while working with them. They were mostly the same type: restoration companies, but it was still a constant flow of work that I was able to utilize to not go rusty most days when slow.
- Many design sprints and challenges amongst other designers
- With being in an agency I worked with other designers that were like myself that enjoyed doing a design sprint or challenge each day we were in-between projects. This was a nice change of pace as it was something of a major opprotunity to test myself against another designer locally that I can easily go to and bounce ideas off of.
- A steady income
- This was my favorite thing about it: constant flow of income even on days where designs were not being done much due to a slow down in projects
- Sometimes having a drought in work
- Having a drought in my design tasks was a problem with working at both agencies once before. Most recently it was a big deal at the early Summer season due to less requests for changes in designs. This would cause a lack of interest at times in work overall but I managed to find ways by working on a design challenge for myself to test my limits.
- Going into a constant design pattern
- Having work with an agency, not all the times do you get to try something new that you know that will work and can work. At times, you may have to hold back on the design idea of being real modern and go back to being a bit simple in design scheme and repetitive. That was one thing I hated a bit at times because it limited my chance to be unique for each different client.
- Having designs changed before client showcase
- At times as a designer, your tasked with redoing a whole website that a client has already or had in the past before. I worked with a few sites that had designs I searched and deeply researched with differnet sources of cached websites to see that it was time for a change, which was asked by us to do. Yet only to find out that it was changed before final cut due to upper management determining that they wanted to keep the same scheme going and just update the content overall with a few changes offered.
- Working with devs that might not know the codes behind it
- As a designer and frontend developer I have had my share of making my own projects from scratch. Meaning the entire code of the site from my original design and keeping it pixel perfect to make sure it transitioned over from start to finish. At times, if you are a designer that doesn’t pan out that way for you in the end. Most times, it can be a situation of you making the design and then the dev making a change based on a template or style that they already know or don’t want to try out. For a designer that can be very problematic to ones own love of the work we do. Sometimes it is best to check with the designer before the changes and let them know if needed to make something different.
Designer as a Freelancer
Now while I may have had over 2+ years as a designer for an agency under my belt as of late, I still enjoy the struggle and grind of a freelance designer and frontend developer. The passion of pushing myself to be better and making unique ideas come to life for clients that can’t go to an agency for help due to cost restraints. This has been my main source of work and experience for the past 10+ years now and I love it each day.
- Freedom of schedule
- Think about it like this, you can work in your pajamas and not have to deal with dressing up for work. Eat lunch and enjoy your own made up schedule to get work done. Above all, never having to leave your comfort zone to do work!!!
- No limit to your creative juices
- When you are doing a project, you know what you can and cannot do. So making a unique site that is different but also pushing the limits of your talent is what you do best. Ability to decide that you want to do a new technique and skill you found out for a client - as long as they approve of it first and you have a backup in case it doesn’t work out like expected. That part right there is what makes me happy to do freelancing and getting clients that understand, I will push the limit of my talents to make something for you that you can showcase to others and your users that isn’t made on a simple template builder.
- Choice of clients
- So we all have had that client that is horrible and a Client From Hell, well this is the beauty of working as a freelancer. We can decide that that client is not for us and just drop it and it not be an issue due to the multiple contract options we can do and clauses that prevent issues from happening. I have had clients in the past that were difficult to work with that I had to suspend their sites until payment was made, do constant calls, hold back files from being transferred, etc. and that changed once I realized this one thing - I DON’T HAVE TO WORK FOR THEM IF I DON’T WANT TO!!
- Ability to work a regular job
- I enjoy having things to do in the middle of me working as a freelancer when things are slow. So for me, having a second job sometimes helps me let the day go by and also gives me some design ideas from going to the second job and also being there and just “people and site watching”
- Finding clients
- At times finding clients can be hard as they are going for the one that is cheaper than yourself or agencies that are on boards for freelancers. That can be challenge and down right troubling. Having to constantly try and reach out to people and offer deals to get new clients that will let you work for them is hard and difficult. But sometimes, you have to push through that and move forward.
- Having to have a source of income separately
- With freelancing you can go through a deep dry spell of no work coming in and you have to pay bills - as the bills will keep pilling up and will not stop no matter what. And getting loans is never a good idea in these situations as that can cause debt and if you have gone to college even for 1 yr, you know that a debt can pile up and affect your entire lively hood because of it.
As a designer that has done both it can be difficult to choose but as a renewed Freelancer once again, I have found my passion for coding and design that I have missed for a few months now. But I will always miss the chance of a stable flow of income from a salary and going against other fellow designers locally in the office on what is the best redesign for a random website.
Ultimately, just sit back and find what is best for you and make you happy!