Going from Freelance to Full Time in Leeds

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    • 21st January 2019

    Did you know that every third Monday in January is known as Blue Monday? It’s the most depressing Monday of the entire year. No, we’re not going to leave the article like that.

    If your current freelancing gig is making you feel a little blue this Monday, why not take the first step to changing things up a bit?

    Our team specialises in creative recruitment in Leeds and we’re happy to help you battle Blue Monday with some tips on going from freelance to full-time agency work in Leeds.


    Here’s a quick checklist to be sure the 9-to-5 routine is what will help you with Blue Monday.

    • Do you feel stuck in a rut?

    As a freelancer you may well have built a reputation in a specific industry or for specific tasks and you’re now the go-to person for this. At first this is great, but it can become mundane after some time.

    • Are you feeing left out?

    Freelancing can be a lonely thing. There are ways to counter this – like working in shared offices – but feeling left out also applies to your industry. If you’re feeling left out of the learning loop or unsure how to grow your skill set, then a role at an agency with like-minded creative pros could be what you’re after.

    • Or burnt out?

    Avoiding taking work home when you work at home can be tough. And once you’ve got into the habit of working late into the night, it’s a hard one to break. We all need downtime and the chance to recharge. While full-time jobs don’t guarantee you never have to take work home, it’s nevertheless easier to walk away and have designated time for yourself.

    • Are you spending more time on admin than on being creative?

    You’re a creative person and completing creative tasks is important to you. If chasing payments or sent invoices is currently your main task, then you may want a change of pace from the freelance gig.

    • Is tracking income and outgoings causing more harm than good?

    You’re only human, and it’s in human nature to enjoy stability. It’s always important to challenge yourself, but if the uncertainty of freelance income is making you feel blue or stressed, then it might be time to change things up a bit.

    • Do you want more structure to your work pattern?

    A positive work-life balance is the most important consideration for our candidates when finding a new job. While freelancers have flexibility with their work-life balance, you can’t always take the holiday when you need it or leave the office at a set time. Balancing projects, admin, gaining new business and family life can be tough as a freelancer. If these things aren’t giving you the thrill of being your own boss anymore, it may well be time to see what agency life has to offer.

    The pros of going back to agency life

    If the checklist has got you thinking, here are some pros of taking on creative agency life.

    woman at creative agency
    The agency groove
    • It’s not all up to you

    You’re part of a larger team, so making sure the payments come in or the work is done on time isn’t just on your shoulders anymore.

    • Variety of projects, clients and people

    Agency work brings variety with it. You’ll work on projects from across different industries with different aims and meet lots of people.

    • Actual sick pay

    We all get sick. When you’re freelancing, being ill doesn’t automatically mean you can take the time you need to recover – at least not without the stress of how this month’s bills will be paid. If you’re at a creative agency, you’ll have backup and can take sick leave without the woes of bills.

    • Opportunity to learn new skills and mentor others

    Have we mentioned the people you’ll meet? It’s not just new and varied clients you’ll engage with but your work colleagues too. Some of our candidates have gained key career skills from co-workers who mentored them or who they mentored. Sharing is caring, and no one shares knowledge like a creative agency in Leeds.

    • Less paperwork

    There will still be paperwork and meetings (and minutes from meetings). But overall once you’ve joined the team there will be less day-to-day admin paperwork and more time to focus on your main role – working on creative projects.

    Tips to getting back into the flow of agency life

    If you’ve been a freelancer for a few years, it can be a little daunting to dive into agency life. Here are some tips to make things easier.

    • Ask, ask, ask

    Never be afraid of asking a colleague for help, tips about an internal system or to just bounce some ideas around. The more you involve yourself into projects, discussions and idea sharing, the quicker you’ll feel part of the team.

    • Fast-paced juggling

    You’re a creative freelancer, so you’re used to juggling projects. But you’ve been juggling projects at your own pace for awhile. Mentally prepare yourself for juggling projects at a moment’s notice on someone else’s request.

    watch with hands moving fast Photo by Saffu on Unsplash
    Time flies
    • Learn the lingo of the agency

    Every creative agency has its own abbreviations, quirks and internal lingo. Rather than feeling sidestepped by the FND (Friday Night Drinks), ask around and get the most important lingo in your vocab stat.

    • Socialise

    Speaking of FND, why not get involved? There’s no need to go overboard or attend every week if that’s not your style, but if working with others is what you’re after then be sure to take the time to join the socials. You’ll get to know your team faster this way and they’ll get to know you too.

    • Keep being your awesome self

    And speaking of you, don’t forget how awesome you are. You’ve run your own business and won clients. You know how many beans make a small casserole so don’t go underselling yourself just because you’ve not worked on the agency’s biggest client (yet).

    The Leeds creative agency landscape

    Leeds is a hotspot when it comes to agencies. And with Channel 4 announcing the city as its new home, the agency landscape and variety of agencies is set to grow dramatically in the next few years.

    The current creative agency trends of Leeds include two very different but very successful approaches.

    The first is an agency that was a specialist one-discipline agency (like digital or design) transforming into a full service marketing agency offering integrated marketing strategies.

    The second is a one-discipline agency (either a start-up or from being a full-service agency) focusing on winning clients, who are looking for specialist support. Leeds has seen social media marketing agencies emerge and change the agency landscape over the last two years.

    Leeds headrow and bus Photo by Illiya Vjestica on Unsplash
    Leeds loves agencies

    Be sure to research the agency you’re applying at well, to see how it fits into the Leeds agency landscape.

    Some hiring tips for going from freelance to full-time agency work

    If you’re thinking of going from freelance to full-time, here are some tips to help you win the full-time role.

    Make a list of what you want

    Start of by putting down your wishlist.

    • What do you want from a full-time role?

    • What kind of agency is your dream one?

    • What are you happy to compromise on?

    • Why is this your list?

    You don’t need to share this list with anyone if you don’t want to. However, it’s helpful to get your search criteria and motivation set before you look at roles and apply for them.

    Your CV

    Don’t forget that the agency has a role to fill that meets their business needs. Be sure to tailor your skills and experiences to that role. Prove that you’re the one to fill their business needs. Don’t make the mistake of resting on your laurels and expect being a freelancer to be the deciding factor. We know you’re awesome, but you need to show employees too.

    Your portfolio

    Tell a clear story to accompany the work you’re showing. Keep this short and to the point, but take the time to paint a picture of what the task was. Never assume it’s clear from the get go.

    Read our article on how to create quality creative portfolios here.

    Your experiences and additional skills

    It’s not just project experience you can highlight. Don’t forget to mention your own marketing methods for your freelance business too. This ties into “not underselling yourself”. You’re not just a graphic designer or web developer. You’ve run your own business and have skills in marketing, business planning and growth, administration, client services and sales. You’ve also got great teamwork skills that are ideal for the agency since you’ve collaborated with clients across projects.

    The reason why – what are your ambitions?

    Every interviewer wants to hear why a candidate is interested in the role they’re interviewing for. Freelancers need to also prepare for questions around why they’re switching from freelancing to agency work. This is the perfect opportunity to get your career ambitions and long-term aims across.

    If you’re looking for more interview tips, have a look at our design jobs interview tips.

    Detach from the freelance lifestyle

    Some people view returning to an office as having failed at a business. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many reasons why freelancers choose to return to agency life, but you’ll never be happy back in the office if you don’t know what your individual reasons are.

    What have you learnt from being a freelancer, and what do you want to achieve in an agency?

    If you can identify this, you’ll be able to detach yourself from the freelance lifestyle, and be ready to tackle the exciting opportunity of full-time agency life.

    Freelance designer in cafe Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
    Freelance lifestyle

    Going from freelance to full-time agency roles (or going from full-time to freelance) isn’t for everyone.

    But it’s always good to take some time to check that your career ambitions are on track. A new year is often a good reminder of this.

    Even if 2019 isn’t the year for you to go full-time, we hope this article was nevertheless interesting and offered some food for thought.

    If – on the other hand – you are looking for creative recruitment in Leeds, why not give us a call on 0113 209 5705 to talk about your career plans?

    Alternatively, if you’ve decided to take the leap from freelance to full-time, have a browse of our latest agency roles to see if anything takes your fancy.