‘Can’t run a business on shitty cash flow’: Confessions of a freelance media buyer
For freelance media buyers, the rise of digital advertising on social media along with improvements in technology have made it possible to do their jobs without being on the staff of a massive agency or company.
In the latest edition of Confessions, Digiday hears from a freelance media buyer about what it’s like to perform his job, how extended payment terms can affect freelancers and why he won’t accept payment terms requiring him to wait more than 30 days.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
What’s it like to be a freelance media buyer? Do you work with agencies, brands or both?
Sometimes I’m hired by agencies because they have more work than people to do it — or the team they have is too junior so they need help. I’ve also worked for a big brand that needs help with buying media ahead of a product launch, so I’ll work for them for a few months. I get access to their buying power for a project where they’re planning to spend significantly on paid [media] and then [not much] after that. Either way, the agencies or brands don’t want to hire someone to do it full time. Clients just want a faster turnaround, or they don’t want to pay the fees of a big agency. My fees are less than [those of] a huge agency.
What kind of media buying do you do?
I do paid media on Google and Facebook as well as podcasts. I’ve never bought paid media for TV, radio or newspapers. I talk to clients about buying billboards; they’ve become very in vogue.
Do you make more freelancing than you did working full time at agencies?
One hundred percent. I definitely make more money. I make three times what I used to make. When you work for a company, you have one income stream. When you work for yourself, you’ve got multiple clients and multiple income streams. You have to find the people who will value you and pay you what you’re worth. Don’t accept $10 an hour for what should be $50 an hour. I’m not cheap but I’m certainly not expensive. I say no to lots of work because people want to pay me $50 an hour, and I can’t do it. There’s lots of work out there. I don’t get out of bed for less than $150 an hour; I don’t have time for that.
What’s it like to do freelance media buying versus creative work?
They’re different beasts. I don’t think one is easier to do freelance than the other. They both generally have tight deadlines. When I work for an agency, I always tell them to be honest with their clients that I don’t work for them full time, so unless it’s a real emergency I’m going to handle it on Monday.
Both have the challenge that sometimes you are asked to join at the last minute to help save a project, channel or business. If you are thinking of hiring someone freelance, …read more