I’m Going Client-Side
Well, it’s over. Agency life is officially finished for me. I’m onto other challenges.
After growing from an SEO specialist to the senior specialist, up to becoming the Head of Digital (Products) for a large agency, and after 3 years of blood, sweat and way too many tears, I’ve left the agency behind and begun working in-house for a small business in southeast Melbourne.
Three years of agency is quite a lot for anyone. During my time, we helped literally thousands of Australian businesses through all sorts of digital marketing: SEO, SEM, social, content, web development, and lately, even email marketing.
Recently I accepted a role client-side with a home security company, Ultimate Shutter. I have been given a small installation business, ecommerce website for roller shutters and lead generation site to manage. Marketing these three sites across any & all channels will make up the bulk of my work life.
What are the Pros of Going Client-Side?
Well, this is where “quality of life” will always win. I control my own day. I am treated like an adult capable of doing my job. I, get this, have my own office with windows and a door. Talk about productivity boosts!
What else is great? I’m the main marketing voice internally. This extends to the website, all marketing channels, our brand voice & social media, etc. What that means is I’m responsible for my own success/failure and I’m responsible for the business. What I’m doing is important and matters to everyone in the business.
I love that I can work on hard problems without interruption. It’s great when I close the door, close my eyes and have time to think of the solution to implement before I actually have to implement it. The hours are also a pro. I work shorter hours and closer to home. No more leaving at 6:30 am to get home at 7:30 pm … I leave at 7:45 am to get home at 5:25 pm and my managing director is practically chasing me out of the office at closing time. He wants to go home, too, so he locks up behind me almost as soon as I’ve left.
So What Are The Cons of Client-Side?
Man, I miss people sometimes! At the agency I was surrounded by 150 of my closest friends. And when I say “interruption” sometimes I mean “it’s nice to have friends who care & need me around.” Agency life can be crazy but it’s crazy with other people. In-house marketing for an SMB is a very lonely prospect. If I talk to four different people in the day it’s been a great day.
Another con is definitely the knowledge base. I had a fantastic set of technical colleagues and I miss being able to Skype one of them with my 2 second question. I miss having access to developers, SEM pros, sales team and people who make me think outside the box. The box is now my whole life – what I know and what I can learn is the absolute extent of what this business can do.
It may sound crazy but I sometimes miss the intensity of agency life. The rush of doing something great was often accompanied by cheers & congratulations by peers who clearly understood what you managed to accomplish. Success client-side is a quiet high five to yourself and you move on. Nobody else really knows what you’re doing or trying to do so you just admit it was a good win and keep going.
So What’s Better?
There is no one clear answer to that. I will say this: if I were 25 and had the same skills, I would live somewhere within 15 min walk of the agency and go out with everyone in the evenings. I would absolutely LOVE that job. Busy, crazy, intense, whatever. And the things that bother me about it wouldn’t bother me because what 25 year-old doesn’t need to be told what to do AND how to do it sometimes? I’d appreciate the help a lot more.
But old me? Work-life balance may be a myth but 13 hour days are not as nice as 9 hour days. Getting yelled at by someone half your age is never as much fun as having a professional conversation with a peer about things you want to improve. Old me wants to have family time, weekends where I don’t think about work and a high quality of life. Unfortunately, I just don’t have boundless energy to deal with non-work things.
Agency life, at least in mine, was millennial life. All the pros, all the cons. Working in-house is a more “adult” life. I have an office job. I do it and go home to my lovely wife. I go home and work on our side project, Nom Nom Smoothies. I use the extra time to lift weights or do some cardio. Lately, I’ve been watching the Olympics. I wouldn’t have seen 10% of what I did if I was still in agency life.
So that’s my story. I loved agency life for years. Then it stopped working for me.
So for now, I’m going client-side.