A sense of non-commitment – or is it?

In recent post Andy Rutledge writes:

I’m talking specifically about actively displaying clearly conflicting loyalties in our professional practice; e.g.: being employed by XYZ Corp. as a Web designer and operating and promoting one’s own Acme Designz on the side. This practice smacks of irresponsibility and non-commitment. It reflects poorly on both the individual and the agency that employs him. Yet this is not an uncommon practice, even among otherwise respected and highly visible designers. Why?

I must say the article got me thinking. And as much as i’m hearing most of Andy’s arguments, and i actually agree with the perception side of the issue, i can’t help but wonder..

Firstly, a lot of webdesigners have freelance background – freelancers, collectives, companies. Then you get employed as an ‘interaction director’ or ‘senior producer’ and where do your previous clients go? You can either refer them to somebody else, or you can decide that you have built enough of the client relationship (and i mean in knowing the client’s product kind of way) to think you know what to recommend to the client. And while you remain clued in his projects you have the team to actually do the work in the collective/company so it does not require you to compromise your day job.

Secondly, websphere exists on weirdly timed employments, i know a company director, who is employed as an IA for two days a week by an US company and for another two days by a Swedish company. I guess it’s down to him to figure out how to manage his time not to fail anywhere and not to take too much projects on.

Another thing is, sometimes the company that hires you has a very narrow scope of activity and client base and they are not interested in expanding it, and they would actually encourage you to handle the projects out of their time. And i think it’s better if it’s done out in the open on agreed terms.

So all in all i think it’s a fairly complex issue. As i said i can’t disagree that a person who’s employed by one company and has a competitive business on the side looks to be of questionable integrity but at the same time, there might be few factors that you might not be aware of by looking at both.

just my 2p

harvest

Recently came accross a very neat online time tracking application – Harvest.
I must say it’s very good and easy to use, the best feature is the
stopwatch – you can start/stop it and forget about it rather than
looking at the clock all the time. I’m impressed.
However there’s a glitch. A tiny one, but very annoying. It calculates the time in
decimals, so if the stopwatch goes up to 0.70, and then you want to add
another ten minutes to it, you get confused. BUT there’s an easy way
around it, you can put :10 in, rather than .10, and it will
automatically convert it to the decimal format.

what should i do?

well not me really
i get asked a lot on what should people do. ‘how
do i become a freelancer?’ ‘where do i start?’ ‘where do i find work?’
‘should i be a freelancer or go permanent?’

if anyone is at
least a little responsible for their actions, they will not be advising
you whether you should be a freelancer or not. because it’s like asking
a bank cashier what should you invest in, all they can give you is
options. it’s your future and nobody should ‘advise’ you about it.
people
form opinions and worldviews based on their very own story, few
are able to look at the market objectively. only thing one can do is
tell their story, but it won’t help you much.
first you have to
decide what you want to do. i can’t tell you how many cvs i get with ‘i
can do quark, photoshop, dreamweaver, html, css, php and mysql’. you
can’t do it all, no-one can. and if you can, you can’t do it well. find
out what you want to do. you want to be a designer, be a designer, put
together a portfolio of print designs and maybe interfaces. but don’t
claim to ‘do’ all (rather claim to have an understanding of the given
technology, a program is only a program). some jobs are not created for
freelancing, if you’re good a dtp, find employment in a newspaper. if
you’re a a bit more wide-range designer then go freelance, because with
SMEs you’ll have to be that bit more versatile.

freelancing is
as much a personality thing as a skill thing. you have to be organised,
driven, flexible, passionate or just plain best ever in what you do.
you have to be able to network/interact with people.

if you do decide to go freelance?
well,
a portfolio helps.. and a good cv, you don’t email other designers with
a pdf portfolio hoping they would push a bit of work your way (sure it
happens but you have to be very lucky). you put a portfolio together
(print, websites, anything) and go out into the big scary world and try
to sell yourself. it’s difficult (and doesn’t get much easier). what
with creative types knowing inside they’re good but not really being
the type to brag and sell themselves.
network, meet people, go to
agencies, print business cards and tell everyone (and your parents’
friends) you’re trying to find work, and then network more, go to
meetings, go out and meet every local business. look for niches. or do
the same online, but you have to be out there. and i don’t mean
advertising with fellow designers/coders because they see you as
potential competition.

good luck