Most accomplished W-2 creatives try to avoid freelance, using it as a fallback. They position it as involuntary downtime between full time roles, treating it like something to be avoided in earnest.
This is backwards thinking.
Every once in a while, our clients fall in love with a candidate for a W-2 position, but the candidate ultimately (respectfully) declines. Want to know the #1 reason for this? The candidate is TOO HAPPY and TOO WEALTHY as a FREELANCER.
Stop making excuses for freelance periods on your resume. Brag about them instead. Own them. Freelance is only a "fallback" if you position it as such.
In 2015 I was laid off from a very nice W-2 position. I had formed a bit of an identity around it, so when it went away, I sheepishly told myself (and anyone who would listen) that I would just "freelance until the right full time job comes along." 90 days later I had 4 freelance clients and was outpacing my old income. Changed my mind real quick.
This is not me imploring you to leave W-2 life (Intro Limited places creative bosses in W-2 roles all day long). This is me reporting from the field: freelance is not damaging to your resume, it’s an epic bolstering of your career experience and it should be emphasized.
It’s HARD to ramp up a freelance business. It takes guts, multitasking, work ethic, some all nighters, and a stomach for financial lows along with highs. Most people don’t have the risk tolerance, client network or self-starting nature to run a successful freelance business. If you are one of the few, then present yourself as such. If you message it correctly, it will only help your full time prospects in the future.
Your new narrative: You occasionally freelance, by choice, because you love your craft and are in demand. You’re aware that “entrepreneurial” is the #1 attribute that employers look for in their best W-2 employees. Freelancing gives you skills, perspective and contacts that will make you more valuable to your next full time employer.
Don't be the reluctant freelancer who is "in between jobs". Be so successful at freelancing that brands have to lure you into full time. If you're looking out for that perfect W-2 role, stay busy and have fun while you wait.
Pic: Alexander Maximino