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Why are you a freelancer?

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Anothername -- Yeah for a little while we hired an EP that was fantastic at relieving those things, but overall could not cover an EP salary with the company income but a junior would not have been the right move either. It would be awesome to have a producer as partial partner where the month to month cash is not as big an issue as the payout on profit in the long run. Feel free to hit me up anytime if you want to chat about it.

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Hi, i'm Axel and i'm an alcoholic freelancer since 2001.

 

The good:

- only one project at a time (as opposed to constantly having to jump between 3-4 projects in my last staff position)

- long holidays = no burn-outs = better motivation at work

- i enjoy working on site, learning different methods in different companys and working with changing colleagues

- but if i wanted, i could as well work from home

- i only work with clients i like

- ability to choose between different projects and turn down the ones you don't like

- less working hours (though this might turn into the opposite for unexperienced freelancers)

- paid overtime

- no more killing time at the office (if there is nothing to do i'll stay home)

- briefings and feedback are usually more structured, cause nobody wants me to waste my time / their money

 

The bad:

- chasing after money

- paper- & tax work

- need for self promotion (which i'm pretty bad at)

- no pay during holidays, illness etc.

- choosing between projects often doesn't work out, cause offers don't arrive at the same time (you bet that one day after you signed up for a boring corporate video gig, there's gonna be a kick ass offer for a feature film main title design or similar in your inbox).

- you'll often get hired after all the creative decisions are already made

- stepping up the career ladder as a freelancer aint easy - for a lot of clients you'll always be the *insert job description here* guy

- working on site, you'll sometimes end up at the slowest computer available (well at least you'll get paid by time...)

 

The ugly:

- some clients don't pay at all or default

- no social security / no pension

- who's gonna hire you when you're 50+?

Edited by levante

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- who's gonna hire you when you're 50+?

 

 

Eek . . . I'm 50 in 18 months time. In the good old days you could go to studios and agencies where the elder staff were held in some respect. I can clearly remember taking some typo work I'd done to the 60 year-old ish Art Director back in the 80's. It was for a big client and I was pleased as punch to have worked on the account and proudly showed him my work . . . which he preceded to demolish totally. He then sat me down and we went through the lot letter by letter . . . I learnt more that day than I did in a year at art school. We've lost a lot of that already, and once it's gone . . .

 

Experience counts a lot in some sectors, especially when clients need and like to use designers who knows the subtlies of the business. Ageism eventually means a loss of the craft, something all too obvious in many studios these days where the kids can't even draw, FFS. This is a generalisation of course but in many younger designers there seems to be a lack of understanding of the broader strategic context that our work often sits in (which might be due to the proliferation of project managers) and a lack of cultural appreciation beyond the immediate which leaves us as artists as less able to be effective at our work. That said, of course without the younger contingent things would get stale very quickly as there's no doubt priorities and influences change as we age.

 

Freelancing is a state of mind. You trade the security of a regular pay check and pension for the flexibility of choice. I'm doing a part-time PhD that is both a result of my work and feeds back into it; this would be nigh on impossible in full-time employment. Of course we can do ridiculous long hours, experience feast or famine but we are masters of our own destiny . . . to a degree (see below).

 

One more thing . . . the change of emphasis from licensed apps with one-off upgrades that you can use in perpetuity to cloud-based subscription is perhaps the biggest single change in the workings of the industry since the colour computer screen came in (yes I can remember that). It's removed choice (we all need these apps and there are no realistic alternatives at the moment) and it stifles creativity as we are funnelled into a workflow we did not create ourselves; think of the effect Powerpoint has had on motion graphics in the way some clients conceive animation and storytelling. Freelancers are now not customers of the software companies but more or less indentured slaves to them; the emphasis has shifted to the point we don't own the tools of our livelihoods and we are not independent. How we've allowed this to happen is beyond me, and I worry that our industry has become so compliant and lacking spleen that we are loosing our edge.

 

Without the fire in our bellies, the love of design, motion and art what's the fucking point?

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The good:

- paid overtime

 

So do you just keep things 'hourly' or give companies a 'day rate' and say after x hours is 1.5x then 2x? Always thought day rate assumed no OT since you get the same rate on a slow day of 6 hours or longer day of 11?

Edited by superegophobia

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Thanks for the info edrhine basically this

EP that was fantastic at relieving those things, but overall could not cover an EP salary with the company income but a junior would not have been the right move either. It would be awesome to have a producer as partial partner where the month to month cash is not as big an issue as the payout on profit in the long run. Feel free to hit me up anytime if you want to chat about it.

 

 

Is one of my main worries, I'm hoping to find a moderately experienced post co-ordinator who wants to come on board and grow with us eventually into the role of producer as we grow into (fingers crossed) being able to sustain a producers salary.

 

I am crazy over the top swamped right now but I'll definitely PM you to take you up on your offer discuss and learn from your experience as soon as I have a little breathing room.

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So do you just keep things 'hourly' or give companies a 'day rate' and say after x hours is 1.5x then 2x? Always thought day rate assumed no OT since you get the same rate on a slow day of 6 hours or longer day of 11?

I usually charge day rates - though when i have to do overtime i just write down the hours and divide them by eight.

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So do you just keep things 'hourly' or give companies a 'day rate' and say after x hours is 1.5x then 2x? Always thought day rate assumed no OT since you get the same rate on a slow day of 6 hours or longer day of 11?

 

this is exactly what I do. x1.5 after 8 and x2 after 12. if someone asks for a day rate I do my rate times 8. if I only work 6 hours I only bill for 6 but most of the time if you're there 6 hours people feel like they need to keep you for a full day so you end up making the 8 anyway.

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I went freelance about 4 years ago and it was the best career decision I ever made.

 

- Mutual respect. I'm no longer a bitch to Hollywood producers and to my immediate boss. He needs me and I need him so the relationships seem much better.

 

- Freedom. I regularly take a month or two off of work. A family member got sick so I took a good 6 months off and just busted ass when I was working. Recently I worked off my laptop while exploring Southeast Asia and it was no problem at all.

 

- The pay. I get paid *much* better. I can tax deduct trips and anything work related.

 

- Peer relationships. I love meeting interesting freelancers when I work in house. It seems that as a whole we're kind of adventurous types and in LA it's a very wild west kind of feeling. The world runs on referrals.

 

- Industry knowledge. When working at a single studio it's such a limited view of the industry. Now after working in many different studios and for clients in different cities/countries I feel like I know the industry much better.

 

Downsides

 

- Sometimes insane hours. This is the biggest for me. If I bite off more than I can chew or underbid I'm the sole person being screwed. Granted I've worked at studios where I've had plenty of all nighters, but it's a special kind of shittiness when you have to do it by yourself.

 

- Your own IT guy. It's a real pain (and expensive) to keep up with all your licenses and hardware and try to actually get work done. My PC crashed hard on-site at an ad agency and I never heard the end of that trash talk. The IT guy there didn't even know how to operate on PCs.

 

- Paperwork, self promotion, and invoicing. I actually don't mind this that much because I try to keep things pretty simple, but it's annoying working on things like this for no pay when you have looming deadlines.

 

- Muse be very organized and have self control. I'm a late late night person so I tend to stay up till 5 or 6 in the morning even at the ripe ol age of 30. This is certainly a good way to screw myself when client calls start coming in at 8am. It's also much much easier to get distracted. I could sit on Reddit for 6 hours and noone will say a thing. You gotta be on point with your self discipline. The deadlines are a constant reality of life.

 

- Chasing payment. I've had to threaten small claims court quite a few times and I've had a couple clients straight disappear so this is a pretty big risk if you don't stick with the same clients. I have a few I work regularly with that are great, but starting out it was a constant concern.

 

---------

 

Overall, in my opinion the pros far outweigh the cons if you're the type of person that values freedom and variety over predictability and security.

Edited by Xaltotun

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- Freedom. I regularly take a month or two off of work. A family member got sick so I took a good 6 months off and just busted ass when I was working. Recently I worked off my laptop while exploring Southeast Asia and it was no problem at all.

 

 

 

I'm travelling at the end of the year and have been considering working while overseas.

 

What was working out of South East Asia like?

 

Were your clients happy with you being remote?

 

Were there any areas of concern when working abroad, delivering the final projects due to slow internet or any concerns that the clients had with it?

 

 

 

 

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I'm travelling at the end of the year and have been considering working while overseas.

 

What was working out of South East Asia like?

 

Were your clients happy with you being remote?

 

Were there any areas of concern when working abroad, delivering the final projects due to slow internet or any concerns that the clients had with it?

 

 

 

 

 

Well I was only in Singapore and the Philippines so I can only speak for those places, but generally it's no problem. Singapore was actually nicer than working at home; they had great internet and lots of places with good wi-fi. Manilla was a bit harrowing, I felt like I was taking a gamble just carrying my laptop with me to a hotel and I carried a ringer phone for if I got mugged. I met another Westerner there who said he covers his electronics in duct tape and crappy stickers and stuff so it looks broken or cheap. I did do work out of my hotel though, which was no problem.

 

My clients were in California and they were cool with it, but I made it very clear before I left what was up and I had to take meetings or work at bizarre hours sometimes because it's around a 12 hour time difference. If you're a night person it's not really a problem, but if not it could be hard.

 

I'd highly recommend it though. I set up meetings with local mograph guys who were thrilled to talk to somebody from LA, and I didn't feel guilty taking an extended vacation for no reason because I was actually making money some of the trip. I'm thinking of wandering around Europe or another part of Asia for a couple months and doing it again.

Edited by Xaltotun

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