I'll never forget the day the first call came. "We received your name from XYZ and wonder if you have bandwidth to help us on a few projects." Interestingly, I'd never heard of the source of the praise, but I knew everything there was to know about the digital marketing agency on the phone. I was a huge admirer of their work, their fun creative culture and their impressive client roster. And here they were calling to see if I could jump in and help on projects. I said yes, of course. And thus my love affair with freelance work began
That may have been 14+ years ago, but I've never lost my passion (and gratitude) for taking on freelance and overflow work from successful ad agencies & creative design companies. Much like my regular client projects, the experiences build upon one another, shaping me into a better designer & better professional creative with each new role.
Whereas design projects for my regular clients are more comprehensive, usually starting with branding and moving through launching an entire website or ecommerce storefront, agency work tends to be more concentrated on one particular skill set. Perhaps I'm asked to jump in and design a microsite for a giveaway or promotion for a major mobile phone network. Maybe I've been asked to create digital holiday greeting cards for a major theme park. Or perhaps the request is to rethink the ecommerce flow for a global brand. Regardless of the challenge, I love these opportunities to deep-dive on a specific skill set and partner with other team members on the project.
The benefits to my traditional clients are many. First and foremost, freelance work keeps me razor sharp and continues to refine my design skills. The collaborative nature of freelance projects offers constant lessons in teamwork and requires one to be an expert listener. More so, working with brands of such a high caliber on highly visible projects is the best way to bring out excellence (yes, we type-A's love a good challenge!).
A not-so-obvious benefit for my Branding Glamour clientele is the feedback I receive from the creative directors and VPs at the agency or from the clients themselves on these projects. It's great to be asked to try something different or shift the design approach to the left or to the right. It's the collaborative spirit at its best, and it's fantastic to receive valuable feedback from these industry experts pushing the boundaries of design in their niche.
Which brings up my final benefit. Each agency or design firm has unique specialties. Being invited to the table to help them deliver excellence in their area of expertise opens my eyes to new styles of design, new marketing strategies, new technology stacks and new ways of creative thinking. Even the smallest of projects provides an opportunity to learn a new skill or truly demonstrate mastery of an existing one. And it's this continuous growth, refinement and expansion that keeps us happy as humans. As a creative? We live and breathe for opportunities to learn and improve.
In addition to some really fabulous agencies here in Plano and the Dallas area, I've recently discovered the Toptal community, designed as a matchmaking service of sorts for today's top design & creative talent. These opportunities allow me to flex my creative muscles and benefit from an ongoing source of new creative experiences.