From Freelancer to Director, An interview with Become Recruitment.
Updated: Oct 17, 2021
Our Managing and Design Director Wayne Brown talks to Become Recruitment on the benefits of freelance, and the three year transition of freelancer to business owner.
What attracted you to the world of freelance?
My first freelance stint was back in 2013 just after I quit my first job. At that point I only had around 3 years’ experience. After a few months with no work, I finally got a booking which turned into a six-month contract, and eventually I was offered a full-time role. I stayed at Manning Gottlieb OMD for almost six years, the company and the role gave me loads of opportunity to grow and develop, and to date it’s been the best job I’ve ever had, I loved working there!
My next stint was in 2018 when I decided to quit my job and move to Australia. I’ve found that Freelancing gives you the opportunity to work at your leisure, and there is a degree of freedom that you don’t get when you’re employed on a full-time basis. I enjoy the variety in work, meeting new people, and working across a range of businesses, and clientele. The mutual exchange of time for money means that you’re not emotionally invested in the organisations that you work for which means you can switch off after 5pm.
What tips do you have for candidates in lockdown, in maintaining stress and workload?
I suppose there is no right or wrong on how you deal with your time during lockdown, different strokes for different folks and all that! This is a first-time global event, and without doubt, we are living in unprecedented times which is why I believe that we need to be kind, not only to ourselves, but our colleagues, family, and friends. I Try to take an extra breath and remember we’re all going through the same S**t.
My morning routine starts off around 6.30am with a 15-minute meditation followed by a shower, halfway through my shower I turn the tap to cold, and embrace the pain for 30 odd seconds. I find this really helps wake me up, this also increases the blood flow around the body to give you an energised start to the day. Every morning I’m making the conscious effort to get outside, thankfully I have a little excuse called ‘Sammy’ our house Chihuahua, he’s got ‘little dog’ syndrome, so I am always on the lookout as he hates just about everything except for humans. I’m normally at my desk just before 8am and spend 60-90 minutes doing my admin which includes checking emails, writing up invoices or estimates, and getting ready for the day ahead.
I’ve found that reducing my intake of news and limiting my time on social media has really helped maintain my sanity during lockdown. I only watch 5 minutes of news twice a week and that’s enough to keep up to date with the latest rules and regulations. On my phone, I have setup timers on all social media once I have gone beyond 15 minutes, the apps are then locked so I can’t access them.
In terms of maintaining the workload I would be prepared to do some personal development and get your ducks in a row. Businesses are ‘minding their business’ which means that spend has been reduced, if you’re one of the lucky ones that has been flat out then good on you! If you’re not busy, consider reaching out to your recruiter, learning new skills on ‘LinkedIn learning’ which by the way is free for the first month… or take some time out and enjoy the ride. The government are helping with financial hardship so it’s worth jumping onto the NSW website if you haven’t already.
Do you have any recommendations for those looking to enter into freelancing?
Firstly, I would recommend that you consider your finances. You should have a mini cash reserve of at least two months wages which you can dip into should you go quiet for a period. You need to treat yourself like a business, remember once you go freelance you no longer have the employee or company benefits, you pay your own tax, super, and maintenance of equipment and software. I would advise finding a good bookkeeper, and use established accounting software such as QuickBooks or xero to keep good records of your income and expenses. You should also have two accounts, one which you use to pay yourself, the other to save tax and GST as tax man will want his money at the end of the year!
Evaluating your skillset, and the impact you can have in the market is something that I strongly recommend. There are thousands of freelancers, and to stand out I believe you need to have strength and breath to your personal offering. Staying up to date with the latest software, trends and being strong in one aspect of design will put you in a good position for the long-term. When I came to Australia, I very quickly became known as the ‘PowerPoint guy’, I was flat out for 12 months working solely on PowerPoint.
How do you manage your relationship with recruiters?
I have always had great relationship with recruiters be it from the ‘freelancer’ looking for work, or ‘client’ booking the talent. As a freelancer I found nudging the recruiter and letting them know you’re available for work normally paid dividends. As a client booking the talent, I have found that having two or three recruiters that you trust and collaborate well with helps when finding the right talent, having a clear brief for your recruiter helps source ideal candidates quickly.
What have you noticed are the 2-3 main differences between freelancing in London and Sydney?
The differences are few and far between, but the weather is certainly one. I swapped the grey, wet, and cold London for the warm, sunny Sydney almost three years ago, and it’s safe to say I’m not in a rush to go back. Weather aside, the demands in London are far greater than Sydney, it’s very relaxed here, and nothing is ever a problem or a stress. However, London is very fastpaced, and I feel that the calibre of design is certainly higher. The market is overpopulated, and the talent is exceptional which means that staying busy can be difficult.
What attracted you to freelancing over permanent roles in the past?
Freelancing is a little bit like dipping your toe in the bath to check that it’s not too hot, and if it is there is no way you’re jumping in. Freelancing is very non-committal and gives you the opportunity to ‘see what’s out there’. One day you can be at a small start-up, the next a big corporation working on a multimillion-dollar pitch and that is what attracted me over perm.
Since running your own busy studio and hiring your own freelance support from time to time, what have you learned?
Patience, empathy, and gratitude are the three things that I have taken from setting up a company. I’ve learned that I need to be patient with myself and our community whether that’s our clients, partners, or team members. Patience has certainly been required during the lockdown period, like most businesses we’ve had to completely rethink how we are going to manage our business. We’re giving our staff the flexibility to be creative in their own way even if this means a job taking longer than I would want.
Every day I tell the team how thankful I am for them, their time, and what they have achieved during the day and week. I think it’s super important to let everyone know how much they are valued. I think it’s easy to get caught up in delivering the day to day that we overlook the self-care aspect and forget to check-in on those who are working so hard to meet the demands. At Cureative we have daily catch-ups every morning and afternoon which I find useful.
Our afternoon catchup is great as it allows us to recalibrate the day and make sure everyone has what they need for a successful day. I also have bi-weekly meetings with the team individually, we use this time to chat about them, I want to know everything about the team so that I can support them to the best of my ability.
My last one is gratitude, and this starts from the moment I wake up, being grateful to be alive and appreciating everything that I have. Someone once told me “Remember, no matter how bad things are, there is someone, somewhere, that would kill to be in your shoes”. I use this every day to keep me grounded.