This year marks my first decade of being a freelancer! This milestone has made me think about the past ten years and take stock. I’ve managed to run a small business and learn a great deal about myself and the creative industries, it’s given me so many new experiences and completely pushed me out of my comfort zone. There are so many highlights, but nothing comes close to the absolutely AMAZING people that I’ve met.
In August 2010 the company I was working for became insolvent, making all its employees immediately redundant without notice. As a result I fell instantly into freelancing without even thinking about it! I had my preconceptions of freelancing, and thought I would be spending every day working on my Mac in the corner of my bedroom with only my two cats for company. Yes, there would be the odd day out filming or meeting clients to discuss projects but I would mainly be flying solo.
Luckily I was very, very wrong.
I am quite a sociable person, and enjoy meeting people and having that human contact. I knew I would get more work done being uninterrupted at home, but would really miss the support and camaraderie that comes with working for a company.
Who remembers #CambsHour on Twitter? I think that was my first networking attempt as a freelancer, and I was instantly connected with hundreds of freelancers on my doorstep, many of whom I’m still in frequent contact with and even working with today.
Networking is key: this may terrify people but there are some amazing free groups out there (others do charge a small fee) full of brilliant people with great advice.
Just a few of the many great groups in Cambridgeshire:
Ed Goodman’s Boom
Lenka Koppová’s Cambridge Social Media
Alan Bennett’s A14 Networking
Andrew Cock-Starkey’s Optimisey
Joe Glover’s Marketing Meetup
Paul Smith, Sue Keogh and Steve O'Connor’s Camcreatives
I can’t begin to imagine how much hard work and effort goes into running these groups – it's very much appreciated and many thanks!
Unfortunately I can’t make every one due to family and health commitments, but I've always had a lovely time at each event. I don’t attend to gain business: I go to meet people, keep abreast of developments in my industry, expand my knowledge and get business tips. Being freelance, and responsible for everything to do with my business, is a steep learning curve and I’m not ashamed to say, “I need a lot of help!” The bonus is that these groups are very active on social media to keep you in the loop and you can continue interacting with members.
It can be scary entering a room full of strangers, and much easier to stay at home, however the groups I attend are full of very approachable, friendly people and I always feel much better once I’ve attended. It really gives me a boost!
I’m lucky to be able to call some of these lovely, creative and inspiring people I’ve met my friends! I can call on them for help and support, to collaborate, to outsource work – but the best thing is just to be able to chat and hang out with them.
Organically, the circle of people around me has grown and grown. Cambridge really has some awesome people!
Both through my video and charity work I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting lovely clients, many of whom have also become friends and collaborators.
With my video work in particular, I’ve been involved with projects across a wide range of industries, such as beauty, art, medicine, counselling, business, farming, retail and even magic! It’s been an honour learning from these brilliant and inspiring people who have all been passionate about their work.
A few examples:
Nutrition from Katherine Kimber
Comedy from Paul Richards
Content marketing from Jo Gifford
Mixed media art from Natasha Day
Graphic design from Rebecca Scambler
Digital inclusion from Andrew Entecott
Afternoon tea etiquette from Jo Christy
Garage door installation from Terry Connolly
I also have media stars including Ian Shepherd, Mark Asplin and BreadCrumb Media to be able to call on for help and to keep my video mojo in check.
There are also plenty of great co-working spaces, superb for connecting with other freelancers and offering some company while you work. Most have lovely coffee too!
I’ll end with a big shout out to Ed Goodman and Annie Browne for Freelance Heroes, a genius idea! They run Freelance Heroes Day, social media channels and various events throughout the year. This way freelancers in the UK can connect, share experiences and knowledge, support each other and even take part in water cooler moments where they can just chat and have a laugh!
This group isn’t just focused on business, most importantly it promotes the health and wellbeing of freelancers too – an absolute necessity.
I wish I could name each person – thank you to everyone I’ve met along the way for being lovely colleagues!
Going freelance? Then prepare to welcome some amazing people into your life!