Crisis-hit creatives eyeing up ‘kitchen table agencies’

freelanceFreelance creative professionals who have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 lockdown are fighting back by launching home-based agencies through a new virtual network, whose founder maintains that “if this idiot can do it, then so can you”.

Aimed at designers, web developers, marketers, video makers, events specialists, and copywriters – many of whom have found themselves without work for the past three months – the peer-to-peer support network The KitchenTable Community is the brainchild of copywriter John Ashton.

Having started his own agency Write Arm, from his kitchen table in 2012, Ashton conceived the idea of the community three years ago, when he noticed that many of his peers were starting home-based agencies that employed networks of freelancers rather than permanent staff.

The network, which encourages members to form commercial partnerships, share knowledge and generally root for each other, has been overrun with enquiries for advice since the start of lockdown.

Ashton said: “Once creatives get over the fear of starting a business, they realise that the kitchen table model is actually a great agency model. When you tap into the wider network of agencies you realise that there’s a wealth resources available.

“Kitchen table agencies are succeeding because they tap into a huge and under-utilised well of talent, namely working parents. These people don’t work regular office hours, but they do as good a job – arguably better – than their office-based equivalents.”

“There’s a fantastic camaraderie among small agencies, which will give community its fuel.”

Ashton believes it is the ideal business model for the post-corona world. He added: “Many people who have been forced to work from home won’t want to go back to the office and sadly many won’t have jobs to go to. During tough economic times kitchen table agencies should thrive because their lower overheads allow them to compete with larger agencies on price.”

Ashton’s 2019 book The KitchenTable Method set out his blueprint for running small, freelance-based agencies. He concluded: “Creative professionals are often intimidated by the idea of starting their own business. I was but then I did it anyway. So my message to them is that, if this idiot can do it, then so can you!”

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