Unless you’re particularly sociable and outgoing, life as a freelancer can be quite lonely. Liken it to being a hitchhiker. Instead of a rucksack, you’ve a laptop or camera bag slung over your shoulder with your thumb out waiting for the next agency or direct client to come along and pick you up.
The journey could be short but sweet, a week-long ride or even an extended contract. Whichever way, you know you’ll be dropped off at some point on the hard shoulder ready to hitch again.
I love the transient nature of freelance. The fact that you don’t know from one week to the next where you’ll be working, with who or on what. Variety really is the spice of life. It keeps you on your toes, fresh and broadens your knowledge. I worked twenty years in agencies building up experience. I was fortunately subjected to very little office politics, but most of all, I do miss the office hubbub and the banter. What I don’t miss is sitting at the same desk, nine to five, five days a week. They say that once you’ve gone freelance, it’s difficult to go back. In my case, I’d say that’s true, but never say never.
Minting new relationships
Hopping from one place to another – does it give you the time you need to forge good friendships? For me, the simple answer is yes, but you can’t be a shrinking violet. Make yourself known, have fun. Most importantly though, delight with the work you produce and deliver every single time without fail. The one time you don’t is your last time there.
So, where do freelancers hang out? Well, there have been several attempts to get fellow freelancers together socially, face-to-face, and occasionally it comes off. It’s great to share experiences with each other over a beer and put faces to the names we hear bandied about, however, these events are few and far between.
Online, that’s all changed, though, thanks to a friend and ex-colleague of mine called Mark Dolby. He’s a great bloke who I worked with at a Leeds digital agency as an account manager who then went on to handle internal comms at the University of Bradford. He then jacked everything in to pursue his true love, photography, and he’s now a very successful photographer.
Mark recently also launched a new Facebook group and website with podcasts called Freelance Friends. It’s a wonderful group that I advise any fellow freelancer to join. It gives a forum for freelancers in creative industries to discuss any aspect of freelancing (or anything for that matter). Mark’s father was in broadcasting and obviously passed some of that talent down to his son, as his podcasts are as fascinating as they are interesting. Mark’s candid interviews are with an eclectic mix of freelancers from copywriters and designers to videographers and photographers. Head-on, they tackle topics as diverse as mental health and bookkeeping (I’m sure the two are directly connected) to collective workspaces and confessions of creatives. You can see why I find it so interesting.
Despite being in its infancy, I’ve already connected with numerous new freelance friends and am actually the first person to give another member a successful referral for a short-notice job where I simply didn’t have the capacity to do it myself. I’m sure it will work both ways with all freelancers benefiting from the forum.
Check it out for yourself. Join the group, enjoy the podcasts and get involved.
Freelance Friends Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/freelancefriendspod/
Freelance Friends website: http://freelancefriends.co.uk/