On Careers And Business
This is a quick article having seen a guy on Reddit talking about his agency copywriting work, how much raise should he ask for and whether or not he could ask for a 10% raise from his junior copywriting position.
This makes me want to clarify some thoughts on the agency/traditional job role versus freelance in regards to skills gained and the potential for earnings. I’ll have to write better thoughts on this at some point, but it is Sunday so it’ll wait.
Note: I haven’t talked about direct response copywriting versus creative copywriting here. That’s elsewhere on the site. This is just about job v. freelance/business.
Careers are all about linear growth. You start as a junior making £20k. Then you move up to a mid-level position making £30k before hitting the senior positions which start at £40k, for instance.
Obviously, you’ll need to adjust this for your profession, your location and the morons online who think they’re getting £500k straight out of college because they did computer studies or whatever, as well as the guys who straight up lie about their income. (Unless of course everyone on the internet lives in an oasis of inflated wages somewhere and I just haven’t found it, which might be true.)
What you’ll notice above is that your growth is linear. You spend ten years and command more wages. Unfortunately, a curse of the modern age is that if you stay in the same company, you’re guaranteed to get stuck on rung one.
You have to change jobs every three years or so to get a decent career going, because internal promotions aren’t common like they once were. Nobody is going to pay you more once they’ve already got you for forty hours a week. They’ll just give you more responsibility and when it comes to be time for performance management, they might give you a 5% pay rise.
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Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)
This isn’t the way to riches. It’s linear and it’s stable (provided you don’t lose your job, which should work into your calculations too) but it’s not going to dramatically improve your income.
Now, I’m not going to be one of those idiots who posts a picture of a lion and says, “If you have a career you are a slave, not a real man AND you deserve life to beat you down. Guys like me who take control of our destiny are the real heroes!”
… because that’s retarded.
There’s Only One Way To Exponentially Increase Your Value And Income
If you want stable, secure income and are happy to increase it in gradual increments over the course of years whilst hopping through jobs and networking and all that stuff, then a career might be for you. That’s fine and I won’t judge you for that. We all have different goals, needs and everything else.
What I am saying is that you aren’t going to dramatically increase either your value or income by following that path.
To increase your value dramatically, you need to learn and do things commercially that you’ve never done before. If you’re a copywriter in an ad agency, you might work on a creative promotion. That’ll give you new skills the first time you do it and over a handful of times, you will get better.
But you aren’t going to stick at the same job and constantly be earning for different services and in different ways.
Most likely, you’re going to do the same stuff until you leave.
Increase Your Earnings Exponentially
To increase your earnings – same thing. As an employee, you can’t negotiate your wage (much) based on employment.
If you are paid $50k a year in a NYC ad agency, you might create a slogan or advert that generates millions of dollars… for your ad agency and their client. You’re still making the $4k a month they always pay you.
The upside of this is that you make that $4k whether you’re good, rubbish, productive or unprofitable. The downside is that you don’t get a piece of the millions.
As a business owner – or even high end freelancer – you get a piece of the pie in exchange for a ton of other complicated things:
- More responsibility
- The task of getting the work
- Higher risk
- Less security (once you account for the fact that at a job your boss can fire you)
….and so on.
You cannot just say to a boss at a job “I want 10% of the profits on this project” and expect to get it. You can if you’re a freelancer and if you’re a business owner you get whatever profits you make. This can mean nights where you have no money, but it can also mean there’s the upside for exponential earnings.
Make your choice.