Monday, 8 May 2017

The Big Leap: Going Freelance

I spent 7 years at my last agency. Let's just think about that. That's long enough for a child to be born, learn how to walk, talk, go to nursery school and finish infants. It's also roughly the time it takes for your body to totally regenerate itself.

Perhaps that's why every 7 years you need a big change. Leaving the safe, comfy nest of my last agency was hard. I needed a push. That came in the form of widespread agency redundancies. I was offered the chance to fight for my job and I took it. But after spending an entire weekend locked in my bedroom polishing a creative pitch I began to wonder what I was doing. I was fighting to stay in a place that no longer challenged me, where my main attitude was cynicism and where many of my best friends would no longer be. The redundancy package would be the cushion I needed for my fall. I handed in my notice the next day.

Suddenly having no job was both wonderful and horrible. I went to see the Hockney exhibition in the middle of the day and then spent the rest of the day in the pub. I gardened when it was sunny and went for walks in the park. But mostly I sat at my kitchen table writing to every person I'd met who I thought could give me a lead on Freelance work. When the freelance work proved hard to secure I applied for permanent roles. Some days I worked from 9am - 10pm just emailing contacts and headhunters, applying for jobs and membership of freelance organisations and researching agencies.

I spoke to anyone who could give me advice. Once I met a guy in a bowling alley who turned out to be a Freelance creative. I asked him for advice and he told me, "Don't worry if it takes you even a week before you get a job". I almost cried. By then it had taken me a month.

I thought about packing it all in and rang my dad to talk about backup plans. Then, the next day, two big freelance opportunities landed on my plate. I was ecstatic.

Now I'm doing a stint at Ogilvy and feeling far more alive than I have in years. I don't even care that I'm editing toothbrush ads. I love to edit. I didn't even get that opportunity much where I was before. Every day is challenging and new, the day flies by and I haven't had to check any legal lines yet.

Of course there's always the possibility that when this job ends I'll have another quiet period where I doubt myself. But perhaps freelance is teaching me to live more in the "now". That's a problem for another month, one I'm not expected to have planned yet. And that is exciting too.

1 comment:

Big D said...

I wish i had your courage.