Ideally, an agency for which you work as a freelancer has hired you as the square peg to fit into a square hole. A bit like software, there is a distinct interface between the people you are working with – approvals, in-feeds, time lines, and expectations.
Reality is much different. And for you, that is a good thing.
The golden rule is: expect to contribute more, do more, and give more. In the end, you will get more. Here’s why:
+ You will have to be creative, coming up with answers because no one can know all the question in advance. If you have a question, chances are you can offer at least part of the answer or solution, so don’t just stop when something isn’t crystal clear – often the person that finds the issue is best qualified to solve it!
+ You will have to be ready to sit with the end client and communicate clearly and concisely as part of the team, even if you are ‘just’ a freelancer whose client is technically the agency
+ You will have to manage people you don’t “own” – if you are contracted as a technical expert in a specific field, the reality is that you be much more useful to yourself and the project if you know how to manage people and in turn, be managed. Remember that the Agency is not just hiring a technical expert, but a team member, and you should be acting as such from the start.
+ Know the process and if you see holes, fill them in – sometimes an agency has to quickly assemble a team for a project and the leadership, creative direction, or some other role is not embodied in one person, but as ‘a little bit from everyone’ Not ideal, but it is often the reality. Be ready to contribute to the Project, not just the deliverable by understanding that Step One is assuring there are no gaps in the creative or technical process. This is as big a part of your value as the actual technical skill you bring to the table – as a freelancer, you have seen many processes and know when something is missing!
Above all, remember that the Agency’s client is your client, too. If you are meeting your role exactly 100% and no more, chances are that someone else hasn’t lined up the next person’s role to start exactly where yours has stopped. Be prepared to offer overlap to make sure things go smoothly.
Finally, provide the client with a post-mortem of the project – where you had additional ideas for a phase II, where you thought communication or process could be improved, where you saw innovative ideas and solid perfomrnace. This is as much a part of your deliverable as the final product itself. Don’t just be “technically” right, help everyone get it right. If you find yourself getting stretched, well, that’s how you grow.