To bring Contractor Week to a close, this week’s Small Business Star is entrepreneur and copywriter, Tomas Duffin. Tomas is the owner of digital content agency, Context Content.
After studying English at Exeter University, Tomas joined a digital agency in Farringdon as a copywriter. After three and a half years at the agency, and driven by a desire for more creative freedom, Tomas took the decision to begin working for himself. Establishing Context Content, Tomas regularly works as a contractor for major brands.
While working as a contractor does come with many benefits, it’s less common to hear copywriters switching from full time positions to working on a contractual basis. Here Tomas explains the transition from permanent employment to working for himself in a competitive digital market.
1. Sometimes you need to take that leap
After working for the same agency for a number of years, I felt ready for a change but didn’t want to jump ship to a rival agency. Not only did I want to be my own boss and pick the projects I worked on, but I wanted to challenge myself.
I decided to start my own digital content agency and began working for myself full-time in October 2011. The business specialises in servicing large corporate brands, working on a contractual basis and choosing the projects that interest me most.
2. Flexibility in your working life isn’t a bad thing
Most of my clients don’t require me to work on-site so my day-to-day working habits have changed quite considerably. My working hours and location can vary quite a bit. I have a desk in a shared office near Old Street, which gives me access to meeting rooms when I need to meet my clients in person. I also work from home, where I have a dedicated office space set up.
Occasionally I work in my clients’ offices depending on the nature of the project. If I’m getting involved in something bigger that requires the involvement of a team of writers, designers and developers then I’ll work on-site temporarily, essentially as an additional member of the team. In such instances I’ll agree a day rate with the client.
3. Contracting allows you a lot more freedom
I love the flexibility that contract work affords me. I travel abroad regularly and this working process enables me to operate my business from anywhere in the world with a Wi-Fi connection.
The constraints of set working hours and offices can sometimes feel monotonous, which can affect creativity and your approach to work. If you’re willing to explore contractual work, it can allow you the freedom to change your surroundings and shake things up. There’s no need to compromise on your working hours or location and without these common limitations, you’re free to expand the scope of your creativity.
4. Satisfied clients are a great way to bring in new work
For two and a half years I ran the business as a partnership, during which time we enjoyed significant financial success having brought on some big name clients.
I’m most proud of taking the leap from working for someone else to working for myself and making it an on-going success. Picking up new clients and contracts is always a challenge, especially when I was first establishing myself as an independent agency. Thankfully I had some great connections in the industry, which translated into work. I find that just doing the best work I can and providing the best service is the most effective method of picking up new contracts. My name is now synonymous with quality so the clients come to me.
5. Be in it for the right reason
You’ve got to be motivated and contracting for the right reasons. Working for yourself might sound like the dream for many but to sustain yourself you need to always be thinking about your next project and building on the business relationships that you’ve established. If you like the security of a 9-5 job then it probably isn’t for you but if you want freedom and flexibility then it’s a great career move.
Find out more about Tomas at www.contextcontent.co.uk.
For more advice and insight from business owners, visit our Small Business Stars hub.