Freelancing vs Full-time job as an animator
The moment you hear freelance, what pops into your head? You may guess it is the ability to work at will and independent of any laid down rules. From history, the word “free” comes from Germanic origin and means, “to love.” The “lance” part of “freelance” has French origin and means to hurl, throw, or discharge with force.
Cambridge defines it as follows: “Doing particular pieces of work for different organizations, rather than working all the time for a single organization.”
It is not bad to say that a freelance job is a form of self-employment. A freelancer is a person who works as a writer, designer, performer, or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer. With freelancing comes a lot of ideas, you can think of a clean work desk, digital tools and access to the internet.
GENERAL BELIEFS ABOUT FULL TIME JOBS
We are permitted to call full time jobs, a 9-5. You have to resume work by 9am every morning and the supposed closing time is 5pm. Why do people close later than 5pm? Could that be the reason we have a growing number of people who are unhappy working to earn a salary at the end of the month?
Full time jobs feel like a confinement although it is safe. You just have to show up at work, put in the effort and when the month ends, your account balance increases.
Also, working full time or keeping a 9-5 job requires a lot of commitment, expertise, intelligence, time and sometimes your money to build someone else’s company.
The most general belief about a 9-5 is that it requires you to have a degree or be certified in a particular discipline for you to be hired.
Now that we have learnt these as the general differences between a Freelance job and a 9-5, let us see which benefits an animator more.
FREELANCING AS AN ANIMATOR
Do you really think it does not cost anything to become a freelance animator? Although there are no specific academic qualifications to acquire before you start working freelance, it is necessary to note that consistent development of skills is important to survive as a freelance animator. Anyone considering working freelance must also consider the following:
- A strong understanding in few basic computer applications will go a long way in understanding the core aspects of graphics and animation.
- Take training courses. They will help to build the skills required or hone already existing skills. In the learning process, you should also imbibe the art of discipline to work with any deadlines.
- A bachelor’s degree in a related subject could be an added advantage.
- Keeping in pace with the ever-changing trends in graphics and animation related technologies is crucial.
- As a freelancer, strong communications skills are important.
Before deciding to work freelance or full time, it is important to understand how each one works and on that premise, decide based on what each person considers the best option that soothes him/ her. Freelancing is a serious undertaking that requires the wearing of numerous hats to pull off successfully. As a freelancer, you’re running a small business, which requires many non-art related skills that their full-time counterparts don’t need to contend with. Freelancers enjoy working at their own time and schedule but it is important that they consider their clients’ schedules as this increases the credibility of the freelancer.
If you want a successful freelance career, you must be a generalist and a problem-solver. The more parts of the animation process you can master, the more useful you are to an employer or a client. Animators often double up as storyboard artists and character designers. The more technically minded do 3D modeling, maybe some rigging, possibly even some texturing and lighting.
Furthermore, being a freelance animator requires you to interact with the clients and ensure you deliver exactly what they need. You need to beat their expectation of the project. You can do this by providing valuable inputs. You may also need to develop models based on the design or concept provided or give visual form in terms of sketches and graphics to characters. Produce story boards and use design software according to the needs of the project. Other important aspects a freelancer should learn to handle properly are the price negotiations and ensuring clients pay when the project is completed.
PROS OF WORKING AS A FREELANCER
The benefits of freelancing are numerous but we will be highlighting a few. We have mentioned earlier that a freelancer can work at his own time and schedule. You might not have to go to the client’s office. This enables you to accept more projects from other clients but you have to ensure you deliver them on time. Plus, when a freelancer is sick, or wants to take some time off, they don’t need to ask permission or feel guilty. They just do it (without breaking their bookings, of course).
Career counselors would advise that you choose a career or a work style that suits your personality. If you are the kind of person who doesn’t enjoy working with a team, then freelancing as an animator would work well for you.
Being able to choose what you want to work on and clients you would like to work for is another benefit of freelancing. If you are not comfortable with the offer, or if you have too much to do already, you could turn others down.
With great benefits like the ones we have mentioned above, one may think that being a freelancer has no disadvantages but in reality, it sure does. Some of them are:
First, the jobs are never stable, clients are happy that you are done with their Jobs so that they can get you out of the way. You may stay for a couple of months before you get another client especially if you have not built your client base or haven’t earned the trust of previous clients, that is why you are encouraged to keep improving yourself, the more professional you present yourself as a freelancer, the more chances you have to keep your clients.
Second, working from home can be isolating. As a freelancer without employees, you have no interaction with management, staff or other employees. Networking, involvement in professional associations and social media can help relieve the isolation.
Third, high expectations from clients can be a little too pressing sometimes. They expect proficiency and can put so much pressure on you by sending you lot of e-mails or even bug you with telephone calls. You have to work really hard to meet these expectations even if it inconvenient for you – just keep working on it till you have satisfied them.
Also, you cannot really estimate what your income will be at the end of the month or year since you do not have a fixed income especially at the early stage of the business. Clients are billed based on the projects. This equally makes budgeting difficult for you as a freelancer.
Finally, as a freelance animator, you may initially work more hours than you would work in a studio. In addition to creating animations, you will have to worry about other aspects of the business, like billing clients and marketing.
PROS AND CONS OF A FULL TIME JOB
In as much as people in recent times dread full time jobs, the thought of working for someone else in the studio can really put some people off. However, with working in a studio as a full- time animator comes the following benefits:
First, a greater sense of responsibility. Commitment to work is a part of the ethics of full time animators, you do not want to leave your employer complaining of lagging behind in your duties and as a full- time animator. You would be concerned about the progress being made in the studio.
Second, as a full- time animator, your boss will be concerned about your growth and development and for this reason, would be responsible for your training, so that you can be more productive and take up more tasks.
Third, when you’re working in a studio as a full-time animator, there are many chances for you to make a steep growth in your career graph. There will be many advancement opportunities for you as the studio has a vested interest in offering promotions to you since you’ve been associated with them for a long time.
Finally, you have a steady income. You just have to put in your best at your job and at the end of each month, your income flows into your account. You also do not necessarily have to market to get clients, unless that is part of your job descriptions.
Self- discovery may be neglected by someone in a full-time job because you are comfortable with the position you have found yourself. Once you find yourself in any comfort, there is no motivation to build yourself and become better.
The “it is my boss’ job not mine” attitude by full time workers might set in. The tendency for you not to give your best when working for others is higher than when you are working as a freelancer. Since the success or the failure of the job doesn’t directly affect you, you can choose to do whatever you like.
Which is better?
Let us chip in something important we think you should know. In discussing freelance and full-time jobs, we need to consider the scale of production. What does this mean? Scale of production refers to the size of work that each can do. Freelancers are well suited for solo jobs and simpler animation projects. They can also do short films. But if you think of full length movies and more complex projects, working as full-time staff in a studio can help you realize that dream. Working in a studio gives you access to other talented people who harness their strengths and talents to produce excellent work.
As an employer, you may consider hiring a freelancer because they help to save money, they are not entitled to certain benefits like health insurance, housing benefits and all other benefits given to a full-time worker.
So which is better?
You guessed it—that’s a trick question.
There is no one size that fits all answer. It all depends on what you will fare well with. If you are a risk taker, love freedom and like flexible work as well, you may like to freelance. However, if you enjoy a regular income, team bonding and commitment to a larger unit, then a full-time job isn’t a bad idea. It’s a big decision, so make sure you sit down and evaluate all your needs, options, and concerns before you choose a direction.