Professionally speaking, 2018 was not the best year and it left me of the opinion that agency employment is no more secure than freelancing.
So I’m back as a hand for hire and quite a bit has changed during the two and a bit years I was Head of Whatever-we’re-calling-it-this-week. The most noticeable is the springing up of several agencies near me using the agency and friends model that I first heard of around 2011. Essentially, there’s a core employed team of the founder(s) and account handling / project management, with all Creative, Planning, Digital, Data Science and so on all carried out by trusted freelancers on an as-needed, project-by-project basis. One founder described it to me as pulling together a dream team for each project, instead of having to settle in a traditional agency for whoever was available on staff.
I’ve also noticed a few agencies that have historically been small but fully staffed downsizing in order to switch to the agency and friends model. And most clients seem to be pretty laid back about these new ways of working.
Since ‘trusted freelancers’ tends to mean ‘people we’ve worked with before, or have heard good things about locally’, I’m currently working on projects with former colleagues I first met in 2001, 2003 and 2005. I also unexpectedly bumped into my brother in law at an agency last week and someone asked how my sister was since they used to work with her. It’s an increasingly small world in Northern AgencyLand – and as a result a friendlier one too. I’ve got high hopes for 2019.