Many copywriters and advertisers got their start in the freelance world. After all, it’s a great way to dip your toe into the world of marketing without necessarily swapping careers or dropping out of school. But what do you do when you want to finally make the jump from pursuing freelance full-time to working in an agency?
Knowing first-hand what makes this type of switch a difficult one, today’s blog will cover what I wish I knew, as a millennial, before moving to full-time agency work. It can be tricky to navigate the job hunt as a young freelancer, but these tips can help you take the right steps along the way.
Moving into the Marketing World as a Freelancer
It’s entirely possible for writers to make a fruitful living off of their freelance work. In fact, freelance work can ultimately become a full-time profession that can even result in a new agency being created!
But, transitioning into working for an agency is a great opportunity for growth and education in your niche market, as well as sharpening your networking skills and scope.
Want to be in Marketing? Showcase and Market Your Own Work First
When I first started working in the marketing world, I had zero experience other than the fact that I worked on the social media accounts for my college and had written a handful of blogs as a freelancer. Once I left school, I began working as a freelancer full-time and, very early on, I understood that I needed to do something to showcase my work.
It’s one thing to be able to write well and execute on your deliverables, but then you will have to convince a company that they should work with you.
“In a way, being a freelancer is being your own brand and managing the way prospective clients interact with that brand.”
This means that you’ll want to showcase your work in a way that accurately represents who you are as a professional and the type of work that you do.
For me, this meant creating a website that was creative and represented my personality as much as it represented my work. As a freelancer interested in marketing or advertising, your website or portfolio should effectively market and sell your services to anyone who visits your site.
Creating Your Online Portfolio
There are tons of great platforms that allow you to create your own professional portfolio or website, like WordPress, Squarespace, and Namecheap are all popular website development and hosting sites. For my own website, I opted to use Wix as the design host because I enjoyed their drag-and-drop system, as well as the huge level of customization it allows. Everyone is different, though, and there’s a website design host for everyone out there.
Even with my minimal experience (at the time), that website landed me my first agency position. And, just like that, I made the jump!
Getting the Word Out There Starts With You!
For many people, job hunting means that they’ll be doing a few Google searches of “job title + city.” They may visit sites specifically aimed at helping people find jobs, such as Glassdoor.com, or even check Craigslist for an advertisement.
However, those searches may leave you empty-handed. If there are no open positions, or nothing quite fits what you’re looking for, it’s up to you.
Getting the word out about your move into the agency world starts with you.
Make sure you compile a list of agencies in your area and review their websites carefully. Do they have any openings listed on their site that weren’t on Glassdoor? If so, you’re in luck. If not, it’s time for you to create your own luck.
Rank the agencies that you’d like to work and start reaching out. While reviewing their website, you’ll want to look for a good point of contact. This could be the creative director or the owner themselves. Next, develop a pitch that you can send out that, again, represents what you can add to the company.
Remember, agencies want to hire someone who can ultimately add value to their team. So, make sure your email pitches clearly outline your assets, links out to your portfolio, and also has your personality mixed in.
Once you send those emails out, set up reminders to follow up after a few days if you haven’t heard back. You’d be surprised how well a quick check-in email could lead to a preliminary meeting.
This is the route I took after moving to a new city across the United States and wanted to join a team that I’d be proud to work with and whose agency I believed in. After a few emails back and forth, I was able to join a reputation management agency, RepCheckup, and later become the agency operations manager!
Start Small, Dream Big
When it comes to switching from full-time freelance to working in an agency, you may want to start small. This means that you’re looking at smaller agencies, or start-ups, with the same attention that you’re paying to the big NYC agency that you’re dreaming of.
Smaller agencies are often the best places to learn and develop your craft. You’ll have a smaller and more supportive group to work with and these agencies often have diverse clients that require comprehensive services. So, you may find yourself working on social media along as well as blogs, video content, newsletters, and much more.
For a freelancer looking to add more value to their repertoire, getting a diverse education in all things that go into running a small agency and working with clients is the perfect way to achieve your big-time dreams down the line.
Get 1% Better Every Day
This is a motto we have at our agency – where we’re always striving to improve and learn new skills.
As a freelancer, you already know that you need to stay on the cutting edge of trends and expand your knowledge into areas like SEO if you want to give your client’s the outcomes they seek. Once you work in an agency, this should remain your modus operandi.
Make sure that, every day, you’re pushing yourself to be at least 1% better than you were the day before. After 100 days, or even a year, you will reach an entirely new level of skill within your profession that will be endlessly valuable.
Ask questions, ask for new assignments, and ask if your idea could be turned into a reality!
In the end, making the jump from freelance to working in an agency is really all about your drive to improve and work with others to improve the life of a client. Be proactive in your transition and make sure you’re constantly looking to add value to your skills and any agency that you get onboard with!