It is not surprising at all when freelancers team up with or work for other creative agencies. Working with agencies allow us to work on bigger projects and potentially earn a bigger income. Of course, this all doesn’t come to a surprise, however. There are some perks to working with different agencies but sometimes it just doesn’t go as planned. I’ve personally worked with quite a few small-time agencies and collaborated with some big ones.
The Benefits of Working With an Agency
So before I dive deep into some of the difficulties I want to take a moment to outline some of the benefits. Often times one of the big major factors that tend to be overlooked is that you are working on a team. Unlike freelancing on solo projects you have much more resources to pull from. This can definitely decrease the workload as well as prevent burnouts, sometimes.
Asides from having a team to support you every step of the way you also never really have to interact with the client. They have people to do that for you! Unless you are that person of course. Being able to focus solely on what you were hired for, gives you the ability to work at your best and to your fullest capabilities. No more struggling to manage a client and a project at the same time.
That All Sound Wonder! So Why Is It So Difficult?
On top of having a team and someone else to manage the client you also carry the responsibility of, what if no one is available and it's just me? The downside of working with or for an agency is that not everyone is going to be on a single project. Agencies tend to pick up more than one project at a time even if it overloads them and who would blame them? They have to keep the lights on somehow. As freelancers, we can abide by this quite well.
One of the major downsides though is that because we aren't managing the client, we have no influence on the final decisions. This is one of the few reasons why it gets difficult working with other agencies. Now don't get me wrong, some agencies take into consideration the situation of the matter and sometimes it's just out of there reach. After all the customer is always right. They are the ones paying for the services after all.
So What's This About Managing The Client?
Not so long ago I was in collaboration with a local agency that specializes in design. The production kicked off quite well. Their team along with mine (at the agency I'm working at) worked together quite nicely. We had worked with them on many occasions before. Most of these occasions had similar situations arise but none on the scale of what influenced me to write this.
It was the classic, you need to manage your client scenario. To put this into a long story short, we were hired as the production team for a particular project. Like every professional scale projects, we had a project plan. A schedule had already been discussed prior developed and all features were locked down. This didn't seem to be the case.
As production started heading towards the final stages we've soon found ourselves neck deep into a list of features and items that were never on the original list. The client kept coming back asking for more things and well, the agency said yes to everything without a second thought. This ended up pushing the project completion farther and farther into the year and burned off quite a bit of budget.
You Really Do Have No Control Sometimes
In situations like the one above, you really do have no control sometimes. We had signed a contract to be the production team and we weren't the ones managing the client. Working with an agency in some cases require you to give up the ability to have control. I understand there are many agencies out there that value your feedback but for better or for worse some of these don't. Sadly most of those are the one making the most money.
Being hired as a production team also meant we had no input in the design process, as we weren't the ones who designed the product. This can put a lot of restrictions and restraints on the development as well. It's much like developing a responsive website when the designer provides you with only the desktop version. There was just to much space for assumptions which can be very restrictive.
The Long Story Short
When it comes to working with an agency, you will have to give up some sort of control. This is something you'll have to accept. Like you, the agency is working to keep the lights on. At the same time keep the client happy in every possible manner.
While working with an agency can be fun and allow you to branch out to many different types of projects it can also be difficult. Not every moment will be stressful but many difficult situations will arise. Things won't be running on your schedule but their's and you'll have less room for creativity.
Don't Take My Word For It Though
Don't take any of my words for it though. Everyone's experiences are different. This just happens to be mine. As I always say to people, the best way to experience and learn something is to experience it yourself. Who knows, maybe working with an agency might just be the next thing you are looking for and if so hopefully they treat you well.