Episode #14: How to Transition from Freelance Graphic Designer to Full-Time Job


Today, I’m very excited. This is a really interesting topic, kind of the reverse of what I talk about usually, but it’s going to be about how to transition from freelance to in-house. And that concept is something that, you know, sometimes it’s just not right to be freelance for everyone.

So I brought on my very good friend and expert in this subject, who is Jamie Roberts. And I’m so excited to have her back on the podcast. She was on my YouTube channel, I think last year, and she is an experienced creative career coach with a 20-year background as a senior creative director and designer, working and leading teams in both agency and in-house environments.

She has recruited, hired, and managed every type of creative role, and her mission is to help every creative across the globe sell themselves more effectively to feel less stuck and more empowered in their careers. So I couldn’t think of anyone better to discuss this topic when it is the right time for you to go in-house. So hello Jamie, welcome to the podcast.

(2:56 – 4:40)
Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here. I’m so excited to help your audience figure out what’s right for them, because as you said, everything is not right for everyone, right? And sometimes you realize that maybe the freelance journey has come to an end and you want to move full-time.

And I’ve hired, I’ve definitely hired freelancers as full-time employees. So I really want to provide the insight from the perspective of a hiring manager and inside an organization, how you need to kind of promote yourself, put yourself out there, and how you need to communicate your value to the people looking to hire you into a full-time position. Yes, that is such a good perspective to have, because sometimes we just think about everything that’s in our head and we don’t see that outward perspective.

So this is going to be very important to understand. So I want to get right into the questions and dive into your very knowledgeable brain. So I want to know, so thinking from the standpoint of that, going from that freelance, you know, you’ve been working with clients on a one-on-one basis.

And now it’s like, well, you know, I just want to have that steady income. I just want to have that consistency in an employee job where I don’t have to, you know, get the clients myself. What are the challenges that you see freelancers are facing when they’re shifting to that full-time creative position in either in-house or in an agency or wherever they decide to end up? So I think the challenges that I see with the people that I work with one-on-one who are currently, you know, running their own freelance business and have been for a while trying to reposition themselves to be attractive to in-house recruiters or hiring managers, is that they’re not thinking about the audience and what the needs of that audience are.

(4:40 – 5:07)
They’re focused mostly on what their abilities are or what their experience is or the work that they’ve done. And we all know that the work only speaks for itself if you speak first to point out the areas that you want people to pay attention to, right? So there are three main concerns as a hiring manager. I can tell you this myself, and I can tell you this from recruiters that I’ve partnered with and other creative hiring managers and non-creative hiring managers.

(5:07 – 6:26)
There’s three main concerns that you need to alleviate immediately when you’re trying to position yourself to be an attractive candidate to a hiring manager in an in-house role or an agency role. So those are retention, direction, and collaboration. And I can actually elaborate a little bit on this.

So retention is the hiring managers and recruiters are generally worried that someone who is in a freelance position, a contract position where they’re running their own business, that they have a variety of work coming in. So they’re working for a lot of different clients. They’re concerned that you might not be engaged six months down the road when you’ve had to work for the same brand or the same two or three brands if you’re on the agency side.

After a period of time, you might become disengaged because you’re used to that variety. So what you need to do is you need to somehow prove to them and explain, and this all is part of your story, why you would prefer to have a single client or like a solo focus or you are okay with digging deep instead of going broad. But retention is usually the biggest barrier for in-house or agencies to hire full-time freelancers who own their own business.

(6:26 – 13:08)
The second one is direction. And that is the concern on the part of the hiring manager is how you’re going to take feedback and direction on projects when you’re ultimately no longer in charge. Because if you’ve been running the show in your design business, you know that you can kind of decide, maybe I don’t want to work with that client.

Maybe I want to redirect them. Maybe I don’t really agree how this is going. I’m going to shift things.

You have some level of autonomy there. That might not happen once you go in-house and you have levels of stakeholder review. You have all these other parties that are involved in the work that you’re doing, and you can’t ultimately make those decisions yourself.

So they need to know that you’re going to be fully amenable to those kinds of discussions, and you’re going to be able to be flexible in that environment. Because as a freelancer, you definitely have more freedom. And the third one is collaboration.

And that is, in my opinion, one of the most important things, and actually one of the last things people talk about. And it’s how you’re going to work with other internal teams and departments. Because whether you’re an in-house or agency, there are many teams surrounding you.

You have finance, you have ops, you have procurement, you have the sales team, you have account managers. You have people managing all these components that you probably didn’t have as a freelancer unless you were running a larger freelance agency where you were pulling people in and you had other people on teams. But even so, how are you going to be a cog in the system? Because you’re not the whole system.

You’re part of the system. So what a lot of people tend to do who are trying to promote their work and get into in-house roles is they talk about the work, but they don’t talk about the process. So letting someone know that you are able to actually work inside and partner with all of these different teams that are part of these organizations, that’s going to make someone understand that, okay, yes, this person is probably going to fit right in.

I’m not going to have to handhold them. I’m not going to have to have a long ramp-up period where they don’t know kind of how to interface with other departments. They are not sure how to build those partnerships or relationships because they haven’t had to do that before.

Because as you know, as a freelancer, it’s like you deliver the work and then all these other things happen. And you’re not part of that. You’re just doing your creative component of that.

And whatever procurement does with it, that’s really not any of your business once you deliver it. So knowing how you can promote that kind of workflow, promote that partnership, that’s going to alleviate that concern. And that is truly a very big one.

And it’s one that I see a lot of long-term freelancers completely miss when they’re talking about their work and trying to be a great candidate for a particular in-house role or agency role. Wow. Who would have ever thought this? I never would be thinking in these points.

That’s why it’s so valuable to have someone from the inside. Jeez. I mean, I can see that now that you’ve put it in that perspective, because those are the reasons that I went freelance.

Those are the reasons. I didn’t want to be working under somebody else’s direction. And I had these points.

The retention of having to work on the same type of project over and over for the same, that was something that really turned me away. So yeah. And I think that it’s great if somebody’s really at that time and they need to go in-house and they’re working in agency, it’s OK.

And I think taking those points and seeing them to their advantage. So how would you go about proving those three points to a hiring manager? So a lot of times, we focus on the work. And when I work one-on-one with creatives, I do workshops, I do live talks, speaking events, every possible way.

I’ve done live streams. I try to connect with them to understand where their struggles are. And it’s usually when it comes to telling their story.

And the self-promotional part, we’re great at promoting other people. And when it comes to ourself, we kind of forget all of the skills that we use for our clients. And so when you’re promoting yourself in terms of trying to get a full-time position, you have to remember that it’s more about the story than the work itself.

So if you have a client that’s like, they’ve called you back because they see something in your portfolio that it represents some of the work that they might be doing or some of the goals they might have, and you’re coming in to solve this challenge for them in that organization, but you’re coming in to solve it long term, you kind of have to talk about the… What you want to do is you want to explain the arc of a story with a client. So you don’t want to just talk about a single project and say, oh, I did this, and it was great. And they might want to know, well, what happened to it? Well, how did it affect their business? Did it help them meet their goals? What were the next steps? If you have long-term relationships with clients, you want to talk about that arc because they want to be able to see you as someone who understands that this is a multi-year journey and not just kind of a one-off project.

Because that, again, alleviates that idea that they might not retain you if you’re like, these projects are boring. I keep doing the same thing. You need to sort of prove out through your stories, and these can be behavioral examples and those interview questions where it’s like, tell me about a time when, or tell me about a challenge you had, or tell me about your favorite project that you worked on.

Those are open-ended questions, but you have to create that arc for them to understand that you’re in it for the long haul, and you’re not just going to kind of be bored six months down the road, like, I don’t want to do this anymore. I think it was a mistake. And truly, some people do get in-house, and they’re like, this is boring.

I felt like maybe this is what I wanted, and it really isn’t because I don’t think I can just keep doing these Microsoft projects or whatever client they’re on. And it can even be the same in agencies. So you want to just know that the work you’re going to be working on is interesting to you from maybe a mission perspective or something beyond just the creative work because you’re going to be diving deep into that organization.

But being able to position yourself as someone who is in it for the long haul will make them see you as someone they can retain and someone who’s going to grow and move forward. And no recruiter and no hiring manager wants to hire someone every six months because they’re losing money, they’re losing time, and they might be losing clients if they keep having gaps in their headcount. So just making sure that you’re thinking about their experience and aligning what you’ve done with that experience.

(13:10 – 13:31)
Perfect. It’s very similar to what I feel you need to have when you’re working with clients, too, one-on-one. You have to have that you are there for their goals and what they want to accomplish, not just about this looks great.

So, excellent. Yeah. We all know that the surface value, there’s value, right? But there has to be stuff underneath.

(13:31 – 13:50)
It just can’t be like, look how cool this looks. There has to be more to it. And the process and how you get things done and how you partner and how you accomplish tasks and challenges and how you overcome things, that all has to be part of it because they want to see you as part of the team, not just a hired hand when things get tough and they need extra help.

(13:51 – 15:42)
Yeah, absolutely. Good. Well, thank you for putting it that way.

And I’m curious, for those that are looking to highlight their skills and their readiness for that point, so what balance of skill showing should you put in a portfolio as opposed to storytelling? So, it depends on where you’re going. So, if you’re looking to move into an agency position, usually agencies, they have a lot of specialties, right? It’s like you’ll be in there and they might have hired you for digital design only because they have a client that that’s the need. They might hire you to do the illustration and that’s all you’re doing.

They might hire you to do infographics. You have to think about what their needs are before you start to push forward certain areas of your freelance work that you’ve done or certain clients. The other thing to think about is if you’re going in-house, you want to make sure that you’re not just pushing that forward without that story, but you’re also, you’re explaining the wins behind the work that you’ve done and that’s very visible on your site.

So, a lot of freelance websites, if you have a full-time business, you’re positioning yourself as a business. That can be a massive turnoff to someone who is hiring you because they want to see you as a human and not a company. So, if you are applying to jobs, it might be great to have a separate site where you’re positioning yourself as the product and not your business as the product because they, especially agency owners, they don’t want to feel like they see you as a competitor right off the bat, right? And if you’re going trying to move into a small agency, it might be like, wow, okay, well, why do you want to come here? Because it seems like your business, from what I’ve seen on your site, might be doing better than ours, right? And so, there’s sort of this competitive edge.

(15:42 – 17:21)
You don’t want to do that. You want to show that you are a human with creative talents and skills and experience and not necessarily a business with all of these different functions. And we all know, you know, promoting a business is different than promoting a person.

So, just focus on yourself and make sure that you have something separated out from your business because I know when I’ve gone to interview someone or look through a portfolio, when someone’s applied for a job and they have had a freelance business for 10 years and I go to their freelance site, it’s all about how I can become a client, how I can work with them, how they can level up my business. That’s really not what I want to know. And so, I want to make sure that, you know, everyone out there recognizes that your website by itself could be the thing that’s holding you back because there could be someone that feels like you’re a competitor.

And hiring managers who are not creatives, like marketing professionals, HR people, recruiters, they might not understand that you are the person behind the business because they don’t understand the world of creative freelance. So, they might think, oh, I got the wrong site. I don’t know what this person, I’m not understanding what’s happening here.

And they just bounce you because they’re looking for your personal portfolio. They’re looking for a person and not a company. So, that is something that I’ve found that has changed people’s trajectory entirely when we go through their work and we figure out how to position them correctly, what their story is and their self-promotional materials.

What’s the campaign? If the campaign is still your business, you’re probably not going to be hired by another business. So, you want to focus on that and make sure that’s all lined up before you start submitting those applications because they take time. And you don’t want to waste your energy doing something where you feel like everyone’s going to a dead end.

(17:22 – 18:34)
That little point is such a golden nugget, I feel, because it’s so, I mean, that makes so much sense. So, thank you. Great.

And so, now when somebody is looking to go full-time, what should they be doing from a networking type perspective? Is it all about who we know or should they be going on LinkedIn and finding the hiring managers? What is the recommended way to do this? That is the number one thing. Networking is massive. And I just did a live stream about networking last week for Valentine’s Day and I called it professional love connections because you do have to find them.

And it’s different for everyone. So, as a freelancer, your professional love connections are probably people that are going to turn into clients. So, it’s going to be different when you’re looking for internal positions.

And what you really want to focus on are people who are in HR, people who are like recruiters that either have their own business or work internally for organizations. I have a kind of a personal anecdote and I just realized it this week where I saw a recruiter on LinkedIn pop up and I thought, oh my gosh, I haven’t talked to that person in so long. I have to reach out to them.

(18:34 – 19:00)
And I went back through our messages and I realized the last four jobs I had, I reached out to her and said, hey, do you know anything about this company? Do you have any insights into the recruiting team there? And she was able to give me insights into what the company valued, where they were at the time. She was able to give me like red flags on, ooh, they’ve been doing a lot of layoffs and they keep turning people over. You can apply, but I would just watch out on that.

(19:00 – 20:27)
You want someone with the inside knowledge in the hiring game. You don’t necessarily just want people who are in organizations that have similar positions to you. That’s great, but you really want to understand the landscape if you’re coming from a place that is not that landscape.

So that’s what I was doing was always just paying people I knew when I saw a role like, hey, do you know anyone there? Have you had experience with any of the recruiters? What’s their hiring process like? Those were the questions I was asking. And that’s great because that person might be able to say, yeah, I do actually. I’ll ping that recruiter and I’ll let them know.

I think you’re a pretty top candidate and I’ll just let them make sure that they look at your application or whatever you’ve sent in. And that’s a great way to jump the line a little bit. And I think a lot of people don’t recognize that recruiters are your advocate.

They’re not the gatekeeper to your next position. They’re the people that you should use and connect with because they want to find you a job. And a lot of them, they don’t get paid until they do find you a job.

So they need to make sure that they have a really good funnel of great creatives. So if you’re someone who has a specific talent in a specific area or knows, has industry knowledge because you’ve worked with certain clients in an industry, reach out to people in that industry, but just make sure it’s people beyond the realm of the creative team. Because those are the people a lot of times that make the hiring decisions.

(20:27 – 21:48)
It might not be the creative director. It might be the CMO who is actually deciding what that team needs, or it might be someone in HR or a marketing person. So just expanding that networking experience is going to really get you more integrated into the world of what recruiting is like for full-time positions.

Great. So then would you recommend actually having the people, someone who’s looking for a job, go to a recruiter or go to recruiter and the CMO or the HR for individual companies, even like only if they’re putting out like this job, we need this job, or even if they don’t have a job? Like at what point, I guess there’s different times that it could work. Yes.

Yeah. Timing is essential. So if you see a job and you’ve applied for that job, you want to reach out to the hiring manager after you’ve applied, not before.

Because if you reach out to a hiring manager after, it’s going to look like you’re following up, you did your due diligence, you figured out who that person was, send them a message letting them know, hey, I’m really excited about this role that I just saw, and give them a reason why they should be interested. I have X number of years working with this industry. I have done similar projects for whatever client you’ve had, right? Give them a reason to look at your work or to remember you.

(21:49 – 22:39)
And that will at least when they’re going through their hundreds of resumes, they might pull you out. And even if you don’t get a response, you might not because a lot of creative hiring managers or just hiring managers in general, they have a rule to not engage with potential candidates until they’ve moved through the process just to keep the process clean. Because if you have all these side conversations, it can be really hard to keep yourself organized when you’re looking through dozens and dozens of resumes.

And I’ve done this in the past when I’ve hired. It’s like, if I see someone and they reach out to me and they’re great, I will tell my recruiting partner or my HR partner, hey, pull this person’s resume, make sure you put them on the top of the pile. I want to look at it, but I can’t respond to the person directly.

Because I don’t want to have communications outside of the system. And I want them to go through the regular process. So that’s a great way to do it if you see a job, if you don’t see a job.

(22:40 – 25:53)
Networking just with people in positions that you’re interested in, in companies that are similar to what you’re wanting to do. So if you’ve worked in an environmental industry, and you want to go in-house or work for an agency that has those types of clients, just reach out to people in those roles and say, hey, I’ve done a lot of this work, I was wondering what you feel like the biggest challenges for your organization right now? Open it up with a question about them, what they do, don’t just ask for a job, because that will get deleted immediately. There’s nothing worse than just getting an email that says like, hey, I do this, can I work for you? It’s like, what are you talking about? You want it to be very just conversational and comfortable.

And you don’t want to go in asking for something from them right off the bat, right? And we know when you network to get clients as a freelancer, you’re not going in pitching right away, you’re trying to get to know somebody, right? And try to understand if like, what you have is what they need and how you can help them. It’s the same on the inside. It’s the same exact thing.

So as long as you’re doing that, but just thinking about your audience first, before you start pitching whatever you have, that’s going to allow them to get to know you. And you know, a lot of times we create our own opportunities, right? Like sometimes there aren’t roles open, but if you reach out to someone and you have some dialogue for a couple months, they might say, you know, we actually are going this direction, we’re getting more digital, we’re getting rid of our print vendors, we’re changing things up. And we kind of need somebody who specializes in UI, because we don’t have anyone here.

And you seem like you know, the industry and you have those skills. So maybe you want to come in house, right? So, you know, I’ve been recruited in this way. And I know plenty of people that have also so it’s it really just makes sense to, you know, connect with the recruiters, connect with people, let them know what your value is, but kind of try to understand the landscape before you start to get like sell yourself, because otherwise, you don’t know what you’re selling, you don’t know how it’s going to connect with your audience.

Totally. And that is such good advice, whether looking to go in house or freelance, like you said, it’s about having those meaningful relationships, not just you wouldn’t want that in life, somebody just come up off the street and say, hey, will you go on a date with me? Like that’s, that’s there. A student of mine was just saying, you know, it’s it’s really like dating, finding clients, you’re you’re you’re doing that or finding in house roles.

So it’s just human nature. Also, we want to interact in a real way, instead of a spammy, like, awkward. No one wants to feel like they’re part of a transaction.

Like that’s, that’s the really the at the end of the day, no one wants to feel like a number. No one wants to feel like a transaction. And you know, no one wants to get those messages that are like, you know, selling you something that you don’t need, because that feels offensive.

You’re like, you don’t even know what I do. And you’re trying to get me to spend money with you or to buy something you have. And it just, you know, we get all those spammy DMS and emails and stuff.

And that’s why there’s a spam filter, because there are plenty of people out there who don’t know that this is not how you do it. So if you are one of the people who do know how to do this properly, you will make a lot of connections. And if you’ve been a freelancer for a while, you probably have a lot of connections.

(25:53 – 27:29)
So use those, right. And if you feel comfortable, comfortable telling people that you’re thinking of going back into full time, then they might say, Hey, you know, I didn’t realize that I, I actually know someone who’s looking for a designer or who’s looking for a writer, whatever it is that you want to do, you, you know, use your, your existing network as well. Don’t just scrap that and start over because there’s, there’s a structure there that you’ve spent time building.

And you should be able to use that to grow your career in whatever direction you want. Totally. Yep.

Love it. All right. And now I have a question about mindset relating to this, because what is the mindset and kind of the cultural adjustments that you have to make going from working for yourself, you know, having that schedule to having to transition to full time work.

And obviously I I’ve known people who want to do this because maybe their kids grew up and they wanted to be at home while their kids were little and they went to go into an in-house role or agency, or they were in a position where they just, you know, they, they felt very sick of having to get the clients coming in or they just were looking to do a big purchase and they needed to, to prove that they had a job. So, you know, there’s a lot of different variations and reasons, but the mindset that would be hard for me to get back into that mindset. And I would love to hear what you feel about that and how people can carry themselves that way.

Yeah. So I, you know, the, a lot of my coaching clients, they, this is where they get stuck. The mindset is the thing that just holds them back because they’re like, I want this, but I didn’t know how to get there.

(27:29 – 28:44)
And it’s partially because they don’t actually think one, they, they can get there and two, that they actually deserve to get there. Right. So what you have to do, and you know, this kind of dovetails into your sales pitch about yourself.

One of the things that you always need to do in that pitch is you need to explain the deficits of where you are right now. And if you’re a freelance business, you know, you, you don’t, maybe you don’t enjoy business development. You don’t enjoy selling.

You don’t enjoy sales. You don’t enjoy managing your finances. You don’t enjoy spending Saturdays invoicing, right? Make a list of the things that you don’t enjoy because it will remind you that you are actually moving forward in a growth position versus, you know, if you feel like, Oh, I guess I, I don’t know if this business is working.

I don’t know if I can hack it. I feel exhausted all the time. I kind of just want to go, you know, in house or take a full-time role somewhere so that someone else can do all of these things for me.

A lot of people feel bad about that. They feel like they’ve failed. And so what they do is then they struggle in an interview because they don’t feel mentally ready for that conversation because they’re in their mind, not ready themselves.

Right. So if you don’t believe it, you cannot sell it. So the best thing to do is, is start to get your head around what you feel like is going to be better about your life.

(28:44 – 30:44)
Once you move that direction so that you understand that it’s fine. If someone else calls the shots on a project and deals with the print vendor, and that’s something that maybe you did before. It’s like, great.

You know what? That’s, that’s kind of more time for me to do the work I actually enjoy. Or it’s okay. If there’s many layers of people between me and the, you know, the end reviewers, right? If there’s all these cycles of review, maybe a project manager is handling that for you and you’re not the person chasing down the clients for that feedback.

Right? So think about the areas that you have that, where you struggle or where you just feel that tension or friction and start to list those because you’ll see that maybe where you want to grow is more on the creative side. And usually that’s why a lot of people pick, you know, full-time work, because all those things are taken care of. Someone else is doing all of that work, right? So having that mindset, that mental shift that this is not because you failed at what you’re doing.

This is not because you’re not good enough to run a business or whatever the crazy things that we tell ourselves when we’re feeling bad about where we are. It’s all about where you want to grow. And if you don’t want to grow as someone who is great at like, you know, QuickBooks or whatever, doing those things that are not creative or, you know, constantly getting better at sales constantly, all of those like kind of tangential things that we have to still do outside of the creative work.

If you’re someone that doesn’t enjoy that, then actually going in house is going to be a better thing for you. Right? Even if it’s at an agency, it doesn’t matter if it’s a full-time gig, someone’s direct depositing money in your account every two weeks so that you can budget, you can plan, you can do things. You know, if that’s not happening for you now, like that’s a growth opportunity for you.

Right? So, you know, just make sure that you, you have that framework in your head before you start to tell people that you’re moving away from your freelance business. Because I guarantee you, if you don’t have those right in your mind, when it comes out of your mouth, it’s going to sound like you’re just kind of making these rash decisions and you haven’t thought it through. And a lot of people throw interviews by doing that.

(30:44 – 31:31)
You know, the question that gets people the most, and I’ve asked it, and I’ve seen a lot of my clients struggle with it when they come back to me after an interview, when we have our follow-up, they’re like, oh my gosh, they asked why I was, you know, didn’t want to do my freelance business anymore. And I just said that, you know, I was kind of tired of it. And then they asked me about, well, am I going to be tired of the work there? And it kind of spirals into this whole other conversation.

It’s like, no, you have to be clear in order to articulate your value and convince them that like, you’re not just, you know, today you’re going to go in-house and tomorrow you’re going to do something totally different. Right. You have to be on board for yourself before you can be on board with somebody else.

So that’s the biggest like mindset thing that I think, you know, people struggle with. It’s not necessarily changing environments. It’s all about what you’re getting out of it and where you feel like you are in your career.

(31:32 – 33:27)
Oh, that’s great to hear that point. And, you know, it’s funny to talk about this because obviously I’m always there encouraging people to continue with their business and, and, you know, that they can and they can get where they want to go with persistence. And I think it’s, it’s, but like, like we’ve gone over, there are specific times in your life where it’s the right thing to do.

And that is an excellent point to get your, your own mind straight on why and that it is okay. Totally, totally. And you probably, you know, people go back and forth, right? I’ve definitely hired people who worked freelance and then they got hired on by a client and then they, you know, they worked for Microsoft for three years and then they decided, you know what, I think I’m done with this brand.

I’m going to go freelance again. It’s okay. Like your career is going to take you all different places.

And as long as you’re good with that growth path, you, you know, you can sell yourself in that direction. Beautifully put. Absolutely.

And okay. So now when you’re in an in-house role and I, this is one of the last questions I have. And then I’ll, I’ll ask you if you have any other points that you would like to, to, to go over, but once you’re in that in-house position and, and you’re looking at your long-term career growth, like how can you maintain that level of creativity and excitement that, you know, as a, as owning your own business and owning my own design business, there is this level of excitement.

The sky’s the limit. I can work with any clients I want. There’s a lot of, of, of excitement that goes into it and it actually spike, sparks the creativity.

So this is, and that’s something that I ran into working in houses is I, I just was really not feeling very creative anymore. I was always in the same kind of rut and routine. And so I would love to hear what, what advice you have and that maybe somebody can think with this as, as how to keep the creativity going, if that is the right thing for them or not for working in-house.

Yeah. Yeah. And you know, it is hard, right? Because we do get bored.

(33:27 – 33:53)
Like our curious minds that this is just sort of a natural place for us to live. We’re like, what’s the next thing? What’s the next idea? You know, like I always tell people, like I, I’m always my whole life, I’ve been this like idea factory where I’m like, once the idea comes out and I start to do it, I’m just kind of onto the next idea, you know? And it’s just like, it’s the right, most creatives are neurodivergent. Most creatives want, you know, to keep things going.

They want to challenge themselves. And, but there’s, there’s many ways to do that. Right.

(33:53 – 38:35)
And I think, you know, thinking differently about what you want in your career and in terms of where you want to grow, like we were just talking about, that’s going to help you figure out how you can keep things interesting. And so, you know, if, if you’re someone who feels like, you know, I love the creative work, but I feel like I’m not, you know, the deficit for me is that like, I’m not getting any sort of leadership experience or management experience, or, you know, the, just understanding the world of, of some of the other, you know, functions in the business, right? You’re, you’re, you’re kind of a solopreneur, or maybe you have a small team, but you’re kind of missing out on that larger, bigger picture. And you feel like that’s maybe holding you back from communicating with larger clients that live in that landscape.

Maybe going in-house is something that makes sense for you, because then you’re kind of learning the inner workings. And, you know, I, I ran a LLC on the side as a side hustle for 10 years before I started to move into the creative director space. And then it just became impossible to balance those two.

So I had to kind of shut that down, but it really did help me with my freelance clients to understand the inner workings of different organizations, because then you understand, you know, how all the people there are influencing what you’re doing on the outside. So sometimes, you know, that’s, it’s not necessarily specifically a creative growth, like area, but it is, it’s, it’s adjacent to that, right? If you know how things work, then you’re able maybe to strategize or to, to, you know, influence your clients in a different way in the future. And if you’re someone who is, you know, going into an in-house role where it’s a single brand, you want to, in the interviews, you, you always want to ask the types of projects.

You want to get a sense of what exactly the work is, because what you see on their site or what you’ve seen out in the world, or, you know, on any other social media, that may not be what you’re doing. So you might see something that’s like, oh my gosh, these are all these, you guys produce all these great videos and you do all these things. And they may be like, yeah, that’s our agency.

You actually do the PowerPoints. It’s like, oh no, no, no, no. So you want to, you want to make sure that you’re very clear on what it is you’re going to be doing to, to keep that growth going.

Because the role itself might sound amazing. The title might be great. The pay might be what you want.

But if what you’re doing is you’re just like cleaning up some sort of files for the executive presentations, or you’re not doing the fun, exciting work, you are going to be bored in six months. But if you’re someone who is digging into like, well, you know, can you give me the breakdown of the types of projects that this role would, you know, would be responsible for, or the departments that I would interface with, understanding that like, it might be beneficial to you to interface with certain departments where you’re going to get that knowledge, or maybe you’ll be part of if you’re not in UX, maybe you connect with the UX people. It’s like, that’s another skill set that you’re going to have, because you’re going to be, you know, working in tandem with those people, you’re going to be parallel to their work stream so that you can see how that works.

So, you know, you have that knowledge. So there’s, you know, there’s kind of that depth. The other thing I would suggest is if you’re going into if you’re looking to move into an agency, and you’re, you know, applying for agency positions, or interviewing or networking, you want to ask the brands that you’ll be put on, because a lot of agencies have some really great big brands, they work for Coca Cola, they have Google, they have all these great brands.

And then you get in there, and it’s like, wait, I’m just doing this local insurance guys like website, like, I don’t want to do that, you know, right. And so you want to make sure that what you’re doing, like what you’re sold is what you’re going to be doing. And a lot of people don’t realize that in an agency, it doesn’t mean you’re going to work on 27 different clients.

Most agencies have designers specific to the clients, because the clients like the same person every time, just like, you know, your freelance clients, they want to know you’re there, they don’t want you to send them to a junior level person, when you’re the one that sold them on your, your business, right? And your work and your talent. It’s the same thing in agencies, their clients don’t want all these random people who are working on they want someone they can interface with. So asking those questions of like, what clients do you think I would be good for? And a lot of times they will tell you, they’ll say, you know, I really think you’d be great on the MasterCard account, or I really think you’d be awesome working for REI, because you know, you seem like all the clients that you had in your freelance career have been of that type of portfolio, right? So just being sure that you know what you’re getting into is going to help you continually find ways to grow in your career.

But also, you know, we talked about the deficits. So if you’re if you’re seeing those deficits, and you’re like, I, these are the things I don’t like about freelance, how can I fill those gaps in an in house or agency position, like figuring that out, it’s going to be different for everybody, like no two creatives are alike. None of us, you know, do work the same way or think the same way or process the same way.

(38:36 – 41:59)
So what excites you maybe won’t excite someone else. And that actually might be the thing that gets you the job, right? Because they might be like, Oh, my gosh, no one has ever said they wanted to partner with finance. And you’re like, No, it’s great.

I love numbers. I’m actually kind of analytical as well. And there that might be the thing that’s your hook, you know.

So being clear yourself so you can sell it, but also asking those questions about where you’re going, and what you’re going to be doing, that’s really going to help you make sure that you can carve out a growth path and have those ongoing conversations with your manager. That is really great advice, because it’s also you’re kind of interviewing them. It’s not just they’re interviewing you, you got to be ready for what they’re going to give you.

So I love that. Yeah, totally. Yeah.

And I think, you know, as you know, like with a freelance business, it’s like, you don’t want to work for a client that you know, is going to be a pain or you know, you know, has a history of not paying or not giving you feedback, or just you don’t want to do the work. It’s the same thing with a job just because they have a salary that they’re paying doesn’t mean that it’s still not a business contract, right? You’re doing a thing, they’re giving you money for the thing. Everybody should be agreed on, you know, what each party is getting out of it.

So you know, making sure that you’re just clear on like, here’s my desires. This is what I’m looking for. I think I’ll be a great fit for these reasons.

Like that has to align. It’s they don’t have the upper hand. No one has the upper hand.

And I think a lot of people feel like they go into an interview and they’re like, Oh, this is the one it’s my audition. It’s like no, it isn’t. It’s just a conversation.

Right? It’s like you’re not tap dancing your way to Broadway. It’s fine. If it doesn’t work out.

There is another person out there for you. Oh, beautifully put that that puts it in perspective and puts the pressure takes the pressure off of those conversations because it’s scary. I’ve been interviews and it’s terrifying.

It can be Yeah, yeah. And not everyone’s a great interviewer. And sometimes you have to, you know, you have to kind of run the interview to get the information you need to make the right decision for your life.

Right? No, absolutely. Well, Jamie, you are just a wealth of knowledge. Like, man, I think that someone could listen to this episode five times and get something different out of it each time.

Because I mean, coming from this perspective, it’s you don’t really talk to the other side. And I think it’s great to see to hear this, even for freelancers that are listening to this and want to keep going with their businesses, it gives you a chance to see what the other side is like, and all those questions that maybe can even solidify where you’re at, or help you to make that transition. So I where can people find you? And what is the you have your YouTube, you have your awesome podcast now too.

And you have so many awesome resources on your website, please tell us all about this. Oh, yes. So rock that creative job.com. That is where you can if you want to work with me one on one, if you’re really struggling to like position yourself in the right way to get traction, you know, and to put yourself out there and start getting callbacks, start getting interviews, start networking, I’m happy to work with you one on one.

I do have that podcast rock that creative job. It is going into the second season. And actually, this is great.

It kind of dovetails into this because I’m going to be interviewing people who are hiring managers and recruiters for different roles in different types of companies. And I’m asking them specifically what they look for what success looks like to them for specific candidates. So it’s everything from nonprofits to for profits to large corporations, small organizations.

(41:59 – 44:01)
So depending on where you want to go, they will be able to give you that insight. So that’s going to be season two. And it’s I’m kind of informally calling it the flip side, because it is really important to understand what the expectations are from someone so that you can show up in the right way and feel confident and comfortable and having that knowledge that what you’re presenting them with is going to resonate, right.

So so that’s season two of the podcast. That’s going to start in March. And then I have a I actually have a resume, a creative resume in a day course, too, that will help you if you really are just getting stuck.

And you haven’t done a resume, maybe ever because you’ve always done freelance, or you haven’t done a resume in a really long time, because you’ve just had a lot of different clients you haven’t needed to, right. And I do talk about how to organize your freelance experience. So it doesn’t turn someone off immediately in there.

And it’s everything from cover letters to networking to how to organize your LinkedIn, because all of this has to be positioned differently when you’re looking for work versus looking for a freelance work, right. So it’s, you know, I want to make sure that people are aware of how to sell themselves in the right way. And then I do I’m on Instagram, I’m on TikTok, you should connect with me on LinkedIn, I’m going to do office hours, live streams every week, starting in March, I’m going to, it’s free, I’m going to answer do a q&a, free q&a once a week for people if you’re just stuck on something and you want to jump in there and ask me a question, I’ll have the replays, sign up on my website for the newsletter.

So you can get the replays in your inbox if you’re, you know, working or you’re making that client deadline. And my YouTube channel, I’m going to be revving that up that will have my podcast as well. And probably the live streams as well, too.

So yeah, I’m kind of all over the place. Holy moly. That’s a lot.

Okay, well, I’m gonna have links to everything down there. So you so they can everyone who’s listening here, you can choose what works best for you or choose all of it because she really is. She’s such an amazingly bright and knowledgeable and very enthusiastic and inspiring person, which obviously you heard this whole episode.

(44:01 – 44:03)
You’re so sweet. You’re so sweet. Thank you so much.

(44:03 – 45:29)
Well, thank you so much for being here, Jamie. You were actually requested to come back. So I forgot to say that in the beginning.

And I had people requesting that designer. So this is for those of you and for anyone else who finds this episode. And thank you so much for being here again, Jamie.

It’s always a pleasure. And thank you everyone for being here listening. I’ll see you guys next time.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Earning by Design. If you found value today, I would be incredibly grateful if you could leave a review on your favorite podcast platform. Your feedback not only helps this podcast to grow, but it also helps to get in front of more designers who need help too.

So thank you sincerely for being here. And for more resources to help you succeed in the world of design, please visit forthecreatives.com. That’s the number for thecreatives.com. We offer a variety of courses, programs, and free resources, all tailored to enhance your design skills and your business knowledge. Also be sure to follow me on Instagram at for the creatives for more updates and tips.

And if you haven’t already joined my growing community of over a hundred thousand subscribers on the for the creatives YouTube channel that has more content, all designed to fuel your creativity and your professional growth until next time, keep creating, keep exploring and continue to push the boundaries of your own creative journey. I’ll be here to guide and inspire you every step of the way.

Listen to this podcast episode on…

The path to transition away from freelance graphic design into a full-time in-house or agency role.

Instead of talking about going freelance, sometimes it is the right time to transition away from freelance graphic design into a full-time in-house or agency role. And for this topic, I brought on my friend Jamie Roberts from Rock That Creative, an experienced Creative Career Coach to guide you on this journey with actionable tips that will place you at an advantage in the hiring process.

In this episode we dive into:

• How freelancers can effectively highlight their skills and readiness for full-time positions.
• Vital networking strategies for freelancers seeking full-time employment.
• Mindset and adjustments required for transitioning to full-time work.
• How to manage long-term career growth and maintain creative independence in full-time roles.

Rate, Review, & Follow on Apple, Spotify or Google Podcast


Please consider rating and reviewing my show! This helps me support more people — just like you — build a graphic design business they can take pride in. Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Also, if you haven’t yet, make sure to follow the podcast. I’m adding several bonus episodes, and you might miss them if you’re not following. Follow now to stay updated!

Additional notes and links mentioned in this episode

More about Jamie:

Jamie Roberts is an experienced Creative Career Coach with a 20 yr. background as a Sr. Creative Director & Designer, working and leading teams in both agency & in-house environments. She has recruited, hired, and managed every type of creative role, and her mission is to help every creative across the globe sell themselves more effectively, to feel less stuck and more empowered in their careers!

Connect with Jamie on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamie-roberts-rtcj/

https://www.rockthatcreativejob.com/

Resume Course: https://www.rockthatcreativejob.com/creative-resume-in-a-day

Use code:  ROCKTHATRESUME for a 20% discount

Podcast: https://www.rockthatcreativejob.com/podcast

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