Agencies or Solo?

Is it better to freelance with an agency like Solomon Page or 24Seven OR to freelance on your own?

Really depends on the person. I think if your in the early stages of your career an Agency is the way to go until you get the jest of it. Also so you don’t get taken advantage of.

As the years of experience kick in then the adventure of the hunt and pay offs can be better. But again all based on someones likes. Some experienced people I know can’t take having to possibly track down the paycheck or work and need the steady hand of stability.


I agree with DNM_73, start with the agencies. Later, its up to you. As you increase your network and build your reputation you can move to independent work. Here is were your network (and theschmatte) will come in handy - check the reputation of the companies that you will work for - make sure that they pay on time.


Having found it increasingly difficult to freelance in California, even before AB5 passed, I blame the agencies. I suspect they lobbied as hard for that law as anyone, and before the law, would fill employers heads with lies about how freelancing is illegal.

It’s still legal in California, you just have to be a sole proprietor, which I’ve been for over a decade, but still companies would want to hire me permanently or through an agency. And have the agency steal half my money? No thank you.

Yes, agencies are fine if you’re just starting out. But when I was starting out (as a freelancer, after a few years of F/T) in NYC, I had a great teaching job with Parsons that covered my healthcare and only needed me a few hours a week. The rest of the week, I had clients calling me because friends had referred me, or I’d even reach out to companies I liked and get clients that way. Everyone needs a patternmaker, or now, a tech designer with patternmaking expertise. In NYC I think it’s still much easier to freelance than in California. So donate as little of your income as you can to agencies, as they will rarely give you enough hours to qualify for their “benefits”.

To be on your own you’ll need-
1- hustle. I’d watch Full Frontal Fashion and I saw a designer I liked, called and asked if they needed me, and they did.
2- find a reasonably priced healthcare policy. Be honest about what you need. If you’re young and healthy, then emergency only should cover it. But make sure they ACTUALLY cover you. But then, if you default on medical bills, hospitals are less likely to hunt you down than other creditors. At least when you lecture them on being a so-called Christian hospital. :wink:
3- set aside money for taxes. it will be hard to estimate, and even harder to set aside. I hated paying the government’s war machine, so I always waited till after I’d filed, then pay what I could, or apply for installment payments, which only meant I paid them more in fines, but it was little enough to not bother me as much as paying them in quarterly estimate payments they want.
4- Set up a business! If you really dig freelancing, and don’t need to work F/T anymore, file for a DBA in your state, and get a website up, and you’re a business. According to the IRS, sole proprietors do NOT need separate bank accounts for their business. Memorize that sentence, you will need to teach it to some clients.

Some cities and counties have other requirements. I never did this in NYC, not even with years of freelancing, but in LA, I needed to be a business, and to file with the city each January, so they knew how much money I made. You have to be a VERY successful business in LA to pay any city taxes, so that was always fun and easy.


I really did not enjoy 24Seven. They only get in touch with you when it’s convenient for them. But they always say they will get back. Just get back please!

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I agree, agencies seem to have the monopoly on most freelance, at least here in LA. They are often the best way to “get in”.

However, they also charge a fortune for your work, and whatever you are making per hour they are getting almost as much. They also tend to lowball you in the rate department… trying to convince you to take a lower rate. Know that when you’re making $25/hr they are most likely charging the company $50.

Also, if you get in with a company, doing Agency freelance, even if the company wants to hire you full time, they still have to come up with a large “finders fee” for you. That rate goes down the longer you freelance there, but still! Sometimes companies will just keep you freelance for months and months, before they even consider hiring you, just because paying out that lump sum can be a lot.

Many agencies- 24Seven is guilty of this- have their roster of “full time freelancers” that are their favorites and they hire them out routinely, so if you are someone who is open to freelance (but would rather have a full time job), they put you on a back burner for freelance because they are afraid you’ll flee if you get a full time opportunity.

Some agencies now provide “benefits”- sick time, health insurance, etc… but keep in mind you usually miss out on other perks, such as PTO, 401K, etc.

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