Future of Work: freelance vs full-time

A full-time staff job at an ad agency was once the holy grail for creatives. But as employees seek a more flexible working life, freelancing is becoming increasingly attractive. We look at what it’s like to take the leap, and whether the industry is ready for a new way of working

“Stick with that full-time role, or go freelance? Even in a pretty progressive industry, it’s a decision that still feels dangerous.” Ellen Ling spent three years at D&AD and two years as a Creative at Love agency before she became her own boss. She can remember the ‘for’ and ‘against’ list she wrote when still on staff. “There were hefty cons,” she tells Creative Review. “Terror almost denied me the best next step.”

She can remember the panic in her parent’s voice. Ling herself questioned whether she would become the advertising equivalent of a would-be actress who wound up waitressing.

“Having a permanent role always held this Holy-Grail status,” she says. “But when I started questioning if there might be other paths worth walking, full-time lost a little of its shine.”