Why I’ll probably never work in an agency again

The word probably

The most used word in this brain dump is going to be ‘probably‘, I can tell you that right now. That’s even before I’ve fully thought how this is going to pan out. It’s something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while and obviously more about the reasons behind it.

I currently work at Codeworks, and don’t get me wrong it is brilliant. Working on such projects as Thinking Digital and the DIBI Web Conference is crazy good. I wake up every morning stoked that I have the opportunity to do it. It is hard work, my weeks feel more like days and there is always a to-do list but it’s exciting. I’m doing everything I want to do and then some. I’ll probably be doing this for some time as I do enjoy it that much.

Natural progression in my head stated that when I was freelance a few years ago I needed agency experience to see ‘the other side’. That agency was small in size and big in ambition and there were some great times but at the end of the day the agency wasn’t mine. My views and my way of doing things would never have been implemented and I would never have seen the outcome of how everything in my head would have worked live within an agency.

The opportunity to work within the agency on various projects was great but I never had the opportunity to run the agency like I would have liked to.

In an agency there are always more people involved in the company than you and certainly more than the thoughts going round inside of your head. When you’re freelance or working for yourself, every decision you make is down to you, you in essence are the control freak running everything. You don’t have to rely on other people, you don’t have to carry people and you don’t have to wait for things to be implemented. Everything happens right there and then as soon as you think of it when working for yourself. If you are working within an agency you probably never have the opportunity to implement things that you’d like, unless you’re the MD/CEO.

I now feel after having the experience of both sides of the coin that I need more control in that scenario. I probably need to relax somewhat but when you’re putting your working reputation on the line you certainly don’t want to have to rely on other people. If I was to work within an agency again, it would be small and it would be my own. I’d keep it very small working with people I’d trust my life with with the same amount of ambition and love for their work as I do, but again this may probably never happen as I’m enjoying myself far too much.

I wonder how many other people who have both been freelancer and agency employee think about this? Your thoughts would be great on the subject. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, 600+ other people do…

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Head of Interaction and Service Design at DigitalDWP.

4 thoughts on “Why I’ll probably never work in an agency again”

  1. I’ve worked in agencies and corporates for the last 10 years, I’ve dipped my toe in freelance work and while I find the freedoms attractive the negative side is that you’re also the one taking all the risks, if things go wrong it falls back on you to deal with. I guess you could see that as motivation to make sure things don’t go wrong, but even with the best intentions there are times when a freelancer will have a dry spell of work and you’d need to be prepared for that.

    There are pros and cons to both, I think its just down to what suits you personally.

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for the comment. I also think that with experience comes the knowledge to deal with many issues that arise throughout a freelance career if you’ve grown up in an agency where you’re dealing with clients and budgets etc. Granted, freelancing is an entirely different animal. Very valid points however, thanks for stopping by.


  2. Great post, and I can definitely relate.

    I worked full-time for agencies, freelanced on-site for agencies, and now freelance exclusively with my own clients.

    Like you, I need a certain level of control and ability to make what I believe are the best decisions – rather than defer to a project manager or boss who doesn’t really get it.

    That said, there’s definitely a flip-side in that being your own boss comes with a great deal of stress. You get to make all the decisions, but that means you OWN all those decisions, so they better be the right ones. I think new freelancers don’t fully grasp this going in.

    Having said that – I can undoubtedly say I will never be an employee of a company unless that company is my own.

  3. Great post. I have the same frustration some times, you know my working life a little and can probably see the same restraints as you’re talking about – things are going in the right direction for me; but some people are born to work for someone, and others are born to work for themselves.

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