Why New Freelancers Should Work With Agencies
It can feel overwhelming as a first-time freelancer. You have to act like a jack of all trades - juggling tasks, looking for new clients, managing finances, and whatnot. Talk about running a business!
All of this becomes even more daunting when you’re yet to become an expert at something. Here’s when working for an agency can be smart, especially if they’re willing to train and manage you.
Although passing the rigorous screening process of reputed agencies requires hard work and great potential, the benefits of acceptance are plentiful. Let us explore the numerous advantages of working with agencies as a new freelancer.
Easy Access to Clients
A well-established agency usually has a network of clients built up over time, which means you can tap into that network and save yourself the legwork. They already have contacts in the industry and are constantly looking for new clients to maintain and grow their business.
In many cases, agencies’ clients have bigger budgets than those who hire you directly. These clients prefer working with agencies as they generally need help with long-term, bigger-volume projects and don’t have the time or will to manage freelancers themselves.
Working for agencies like these save you time that would otherwise be spent finding clients or worrying about them. Thus, you can focus on what you do best - your work. And if you’re not there yet, you can focus on learning and improving daily until you master a skill.
Reduced or No Marketing Costs
Like it or not, as a freelancer, marketing yourself is non-negotiable. Even if you’re excellent in your field, clients won’t automatically know about you. Word of mouth does help, but as a new freelancer, you will not have clients vouching for you from the start.
You can skip this step by working with an agency because they have already invested in marketing and building their brand. If it’s a well-reputed agency or works with multiple international clients, it likely has a presence on several platforms and considerable budgets to market itself. This indirectly benefits you by saving you the time and energy needed to build your brand from scratch.
Better Income Stability
Let's talk about one of the biggest concerns in freelancing - income stability. A reliable income stream can help you plan for the future, whether paying off debt, investing in your business, or simply having financial peace of mind.
You will often find it difficult to relax as a freelancer, even if you have a few recurring clients, because companies often cut freelancer budgets when the market falls. In such situations, you suffer first because letting freelancers go is easier than laying off in-house employees. The end result - you will once again find yourselves in the painful gig-hunting process.
That’s why teaming up with an agency could be a stable option. As agencies prefer working with clients with higher budgets, they’re less unlikely to react drastically to a sudden turn in the market. If one of the agency’s projects closes, it may still need you for another.
Access to Premium Resources
As a freelancer, you may not be able to afford premium tools an agency can.
For example, as a copywriter at a creative agency, you may get access to expensive tools like Adbeat - a highly reputed tool that provides tons of insights into the digital advertising world. Using it frequently facilitates your growth as a copywriter as you learn what works and what doesn’t on various advertising platforms. However, as a first-time freelancer, you might be unable to afford it because it costs a few hundred dollars a month (as of April 2023), and you’re yet to start making a decent income.
Agencies invest in such tools to build robust processes and gain a competitive advantage. You can use these resources while working with an agency and finish your work faster.
Working on different projects through an agency exposes you to various industries, challenges, and clients with unique needs. This exposure helps you gain experience and develop skills in other areas.
For example, you learn about healthcare regulations and terminology if you work on a project for a healthcare client. On another project, you may be tasked with creating content for a social media campaign, which helps you learn about social media marketing and analytics. By working on different projects, you expand your skillset and become a more well-rounded professional, ultimately benefiting your career growth and success.
Although it’s not impossible to build your portfolio as a freelancer, the process becomes faster when working with an agency.
Since you’re free from looking for new projects every few days or weeks, you can use this time to upskill yourself and help the agency in more ways. For example, if you’re a freelance writer working with a content marketing agency, they may be producing more content forms for their clients than just blog posts.
Demonstrating high-level performance makes you eligible for more opportunities in the same agency. In some cases, they might even offer you a full-time equivalent position, and even though that wasn’t your primary preference, it could turn out to be an irresistible opportunity.
Through this association, you gain invaluable skills and experience that will serve you well when you're ready to advance your freelance career and move on to working with new clients.
A professional team handles invoicing, quality assurance, and project management in a high-end agency that scales well. So you don't have to set up your own processes for these complex tasks. You also get freedom from dealing with multiple clients for invoice-related follow-ups and similar headaches. The agency is your guard here because they’re the ones responsible for paying you.
Moreover, you don’t need to go through the hassles of contracts and legal matters as the agency’s legal team handles these matters. The agency takes responsibility for any issues that may arise, saving you from any possible money or reputation loss.
Protection Against Scams
Unfortunately, scams are too common in the freelance industry, and new freelancers are often vulnerable to falling victim to them.
Imagine you just signed a contract with a client to write 10 articles for their blog. The client seems legitimate, and you're excited to start working on the project. You deliver the work and issue an invoice, only to know that the client is now ghosting you. And then begins the painful process of chasing them, seeking help in forums or other public channels. Still, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get paid.
Working under an agency helps freelancers mitigate this risk as the agency handles much of the communication and financial transactions with clients. This usually means that payments are processed securely and on time, and clients are verified to be legitimate and trustworthy. Plus, even if a client happens to delay payment to the agency, freelancers will still receive timely compensation from the agency.
Freelancing is fun, but you can get lonely and stuck sometimes. As a part of an agency, you get to connect to their in-house team and other freelancers. This association offers you guidance, feedback, and support when needed. And no matter how independent or capable you are, this support positively impacts your personal and professional growth.
Several Slack and Facebook communities are living proof of this. The members use one another’s help for clarifying doubts, bouncing off ideas, and even emotional encouragement when going through a difficulty in their personal lives. At an agency, this type of arrangement is even more comfortable as the people you interact with are not complete strangers. They are working on similar projects as yours and following the same guidelines and systems, so their experience is highly relevant.
It takes experience and systemized processes to manage and retain clients. For first-time freelancers, collaborating with an agency and developing expertise before going solo is a relatively easier way. After a while, when you’re no longer a new freelancer, this collaboration is even more beneficial as you can keep working for the agency and manage another (possibly a higher-paid) project for the rest of your time. Thus, a stable income comes from the agency and additional dollars from sporadic work.
Remember, freelancing doesn’t make you rich overnight. It takes time and consistent effort to establish yourself as a worthy freelancer, and until you get there, it’s a wise choice to leverage the benefits of working with a good agency.