FIRST HURDLE: Agency, In-House or Freelance?

Those who work for an agency typically specialise in a particular design area – there is a faster pace of work as the company is producing projects for multiple clients, although the details of work produced will often be similar. These roles are often high-stress but do offer employees a chance to really refine their area of expertise whilst proving their worth and establishing connections across the industry.

In-House work is often much slower paced and projects focus on the effectiveness of a project rather than its efficiency; this total immersion in one company requires passion and belief in the bigger cause. Depending on the size of the team, job roles are more generalised than specialised and employees have more input into decision-making about design and strategies.

Using a freelancer can often be a more affordable way to complete a design project, therefore providing a lot of smaller jobs for those offering their services – perfect for the freelancer to gather experience and establish a reputation. Although this can be difficult and time-consuming in the beginning due to such a saturated industry, it is a good way to practice and develop skills.

DECISION: For now, freelance – but definitely in-house over agency

I think ultimately I am much more suited to in-house work – I like to focus 100% of my time and energy to one specific project that has huge value and impact and although I’m not sure what that cause is just yet, working in-house appeals to me much more than agency. For the meantime, for the purposes of this assignment and the next couple of months, I have decided to offer my services as a freelancer and will be promoting myself as this on my portfolio and promotional materials.

SECOND HURDLE: Choosing a job role

I’ve already established that my preferred sectors are advertising/marketing and publishing. So let’s say I ultimately want to be the creative director for an in-house advertising/marketing/publishing/communications team – what’s the process?

According to Creative Skillset, 153,000 people are employed in the advertising/marketing communications sector and interestingly, 23% are freelancers and more than 70% are graduates. Traditional skills such as scamping, copywriting, general communication, pitching, presenting and justifying your own ideas are all well-regarded (Creative Skillset, n.d.). Digital skills, such as the things I have learnt through my degree, are also in high demand and growing increasingly relevant to the role. Education to degree level is typical, although people come from all walks of life and there are a lot of apprenticeships and specialist qualifications being introduced.

Overall, I’ll need to stand out from the crowd and find my niche in order to stand a better chance of success within this sector. A strong CV and Portfolio will strengthen my chances and it would be a good idea to keep up to date with new technology and trends. The role of a creative director is a vital and varied role within the industry and can only be achieved through proof of extensive experience, dedication and great people skills.


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