I have worked freelance in media since 2001 – and have been lucky enough during that time to always find work and discover fresh and exciting challenges. Having worked across TV and Radio, I have gained huge respect from colleagues and companies for what I can offer clients. I have also worked with many fellow ‘freelancers’ – hugely talented individuals who like me, have decided they would prefer not to be tied to one employer.
What is disappointing, is some of the snobbery from many in the industry about freelancers. This often comes from those that have full-time jobs and particularly those that do the same kind of work as the freelancer. This perplexes and frustrates me. Some people seem to think that because you are freelance, you are less entitled to respect for your skills. Perhaps they feel you are not committed in the same way. Maybe they feel superior because they have a full time job.
However, the opposite is often true. A freelancer often has a broader skills set and a better understanding of media in a broader context. I have a colleague who has become very senior in a company – but it is the only organisation he has worked for for nearly two decades. While he has great experience of that company, he has no insight into how other organisations operate. If you are not careful it can make you narrow minded and less accepting of change.
I encourage anyone who asks me about progressing their career – that a short spell of freelancing is always hugely helpful for a number of reasons. It exposes you to different styles and techniques, it allows you to broaden your skill set and most importantly it keeps you fresh. It is also a great way to network.
Freelancing is not for everyone – there are time management and administration issues that many people find hard to cope with – but for those that are disciplined it is a fabulous way to operate. At every media organisation I have worked there have been freelancers holding the department or company together. It would be nice if everyone recognised what a hugely important part of the industry they are.