When you work as a web designer or web developer, there isn’t much required when it comes to location or equipment needed. You only need a laptop and an internet connection and you are ready for business.
For new web designers, the question that will inevitably come up is if you should go the solo freelance route or work for an agency. Is it possible to learn the required skills and make a living out of either option?
We will take a look at the option of working for an agency and working as a freelancer. Keep reading to see which option might work better for you.
Freelance Designer Perspective
Since there is such a large number of individuals providing the services of a freelance web designer, going the solo option requires the constant search for new clients. This might be challenging for the newer web designers because clients usually go with web designer who have more experience or with an agency.
One of the major advantages of being a freelancer is that you are not limited by location. You can provide your web design services anywhere in the world, from a hotel room, drop-in office space or on the beach. As long as you have a connection to the internet, you are in business. There are, however, some disadvantages of being a freelancer. With online forums like StackOverflow, web development is well documented online. However, in an agency, you are never alone. If you are ever stuck, you can always get help from co-workers or you can review or update existing code.
Freelancers have the ability to make their own hours and are not forced into a 9 to 5 box. This provides greater flexibility to work around your lifestyle schedule. You could start early, finish early to meet up with family and friends, take vacations as you wish. The disadvantage of this is that you might not be able to turn down jobs irrespective of the short deadlines. You might have to take on more jobs that don’t pay as much to meet your monthly budget goals. As a result, there are times you will have to suddenly work longer hours, maybe late nights. Web builds have a more defined structure at agencies. They are better managed and the deadlines are clear and more reasonable. This means there isn’t as much overtime and stress.
Agency Designer Perspective
When working in an agency, one of the biggest benefits is the variety of projects you are involved with. There are different kinds of clients ranging from large organisation to non-profits and schools. This offers the web designer a breath of experiences.
Since many new clients come via referrals in the freelance designer world, it is easy to get bogged down in one sector. Of course, you could become a specialist in that sector and it might be easier to attract clients from that sector with your portfolio, however it could become monotonous.
When you work for an agency, your full focus is on doing what you really like, which is developing websites.
You eliminate the time needed to get new clients, going to meetings and replying to emails. You now have more time to sharpen your coding skills, staying on top of industry trends and sufficient time to do a good job on each project. Some people notice a dramatic improvement in their skills after joining an agency. They have team support as well as enough time to develop the projects.
Being part of an agency with its multi-disciplinary approach, web designer’s get to work with project managers, graphic designers, videographers, photographers, etc. In doing this, the web designer gets a greater depth of understanding of the web development sector. Different perspectives are presented at team meetings, allowing everyone to share their ideas. You have the chance to learn new skills beyond web development, like managing clients, Sketch, etc., which provides you with a better overall perspective of the process of web development projects. There is also the added social aspect, where you can go for drinks with team members after work.
Both options are excellent for anyone seeking a career in web development, but I would suggest working with an agency for beginners so that they get a solid experiential foundation. Working as a freelancer has its own benefits, but for those new to the industry, you will learn more and faster in an environment with other experienced designers and with a supportive team environment.