Freelance work doesn’t always drop out of the sky into your lap. In fact, until you establish yourself to a point that some work comes in through word-of-mouth recommendations, it can be pretty tough going. As well as the usual jobs boards and freelancer sites, more and more freelancers turn to agencies to help them find work. So how does that work?
Connect with an agency that understands freelancers
Agency work hasn’t always been freelance-friendly in the past but happily, lots of agencies are starting to switch on to the fact that freelancers are the perfect temporary resource for businesses with ongoing projects.
There are countless jobs agencies out there, so it’s worth reaching out to those that particularly understand what motivates you as a freelancer.
If you’re planning to freelance long-term but your agent is determinedly pushing you towards clients who want an employee, the relationship is likely to get tense pretty quickly. Don’t be afraid to make it clear what your plans are!
This works the other way, too. So, if you’re freelancing with a view to using it as a route into employment, sharing this with the agency helps them match you with more appropriate clients.
Top tip for freelancing with multiple agencies
A common mistake is to respond to every agency, spreading your details around as many agents as possible. Less is more when dealing with agencies, so be selective. Reducing the amount of agencies you deal with cuts down the wasted phone calls that don’t match your skills or project preferences.
It also reduces the chance of multiple agents sending your CV to the same client. It can go against you!
What is the agent getting?
Negotiation starts the minute an agent asks you “what rate are you looking for.” Be firm and decisive with your rate, and don’t go with your bottom line. Set a freelance rate that you’re happy with, and that you feel your skills deserve.
Your agent is essential the window between what rate you’re willing to work at, and the rate a client is looking to pay. It can be a useful resource to have, but do keep in mind that agencies also have their own profit margin to think about. With big clients, most agents work on a PSL (preferred supplier list) and have set margins with the client, so there’s less room for negotiation.
Keep your skills updated with your agency
Once you find an agency that suits your skills, keep the lines of communication open. You don’t want to be just another name on their database. Even when you have a contract or plenty of freelance work on the go, drop them a line each month to update your availability, add any new skills you have picked up, or just to chat.
A good recruiter will always have a list of active freelancers who they will contact before they hit their internal database or spend money on advertising.
Stay fresh in the thoughts of recruiters and you’re more likely to find that agency calls will be better qualified in terms of what work you’re looking for, and also more frequent.
Always keep your CV updated with your agency
Once you finish a contract, update your CV and send it in to the agency so they can refresh your database CV. This is important, because you don’t want to be overlooked for any work that suits your skills or new experience.
Often a recruiter will pass over a freelance requirement to a resourcer, who will work on the internal database to find candidates. The search will be mainly driven by skill keywords, so if your new skills are not on your CV, you could miss out on new freelance projects.
Visit our freelancer information hub to find more advice and resources.