Thursday, 23 February 2012

the first year Happy freelance birthday to me!

After 17 years of having a 'proper' PR job, taking a moment to reflect on my first year as a freelancer. 
OK so maybe the office parties
aren't that great  as a freelancer
but at least i don't have
to share the cake

So I took the leap of freelance faith one year ago now. I started with just one contract (that’s all you need) and an old laptop (such a bad idea). A year later and I’m busy and increasingly teaming up with industry mates to deliver on a wider brief. And I'm know I shouldn't boast but also the proud owner of: 

· A shiny new laptop (bought in great distress):
· A comfortable office chair (couldn't actually stand after that first month perched on rustic dining room chair);
· An all-singing all-dancing printer (I tried a basic one, but running to the shop to pay 10p for photocopy soon lost its appeal);
· A fan heater (essential);
· A dog (absolutely not essential and quite possibly a really bad idea but I’m sticking with it.)

I've celebrated making it to Year One with a new office rug and several cocktail parties for those who have looked after me most. ("Mind the rug!"). Forgive this nostalgic moment while I reflect on the year gone by…

What was the best revelation?
That I would enjoy it quite so much, even the dodgy days are somewhat thrilling. I love the diversity of work and the random twists opportunities offer. Given my commercial brain, I don’t seem to be overly obsessed with making a fortune (handy). Just doing good work and getting paid well enough for it, works fine for me.

Check out the new rug!
What was a complete let down?
My misperception that if I didn't have any paid work I’d be just working on my tan. If you don’t have paid work, you feel somewhat obliged to look for it, and even if it’s already on the horizon, then you still labour over laptop every day staying on top of admin marketing accounts etc. A year in, and Loose Women still remains a mystery to me. Damn that work ethic. And it turns out I hate doing my own PR. I ordered some business cards off the internet and I do enjoy writing this occasional blog, as long as I don’t have to pitch myself as a ‘thought leader’, but beyond that, turns out I’m not very interested - which I think, given my training, is a bit rubbish.

Is there anything you miss about your old life?
Well I’m not lonely which I was a bit worried about, but I walk the dog every morning so usually bump into someone to chat to, and then I shout at self-same dog quite a lot all day which keeps the volume up. As predicted, it’s the IT department that I miss. The combination of having a giant house rabbit that’s addicted to power cables and my own complete inability to do anything other than cry when the black blinky screen shows, means, I've truly and repeatedly suffered.

If it’s so great do you wish you’d done it sooner?
Erm maybe, not sure. If I’d gone solo earlier in my career I’m not convinced I would really have known what I was doing, ten years in a busy agency means you are learning every day and I’m really glad I have that experience. Without it I think I would have been just too freaked to enjoy this solo life. As it is, my instincts are nicely honed and the advice I give has usually been proven.
So what’s next?
Well no plans for global domination or any more pets (there’s more of them than us now). But perhaps I should go on a dating site just to spice things up a little. Place an ad that might read: “Mostly chirpy freelancer, smelling slightly of wet dog, would occasionally like to meet IT Geek with too much time on his hands and an endless supply of cables for emergency assistance and fun times (deadline dependent).”

Huge thanks to my early adopter clients who were kind enough to hire me, pay me and refer me. And to my gorgeous friends who have looked after me this just-a-bit-scary, year. My round this next time.


  1. our dear friend.......always knew you would make it good. Love and all good wishes for next one!

    K and Timbo

  2. Thank you for this entertaining and insightful blog. I stepped out and opened my own firm on Jan.5, landed three retainer contracts in the first six weeks, and am enjoying every minute of it. It is scary--very much so. But I've wrangled my fear by acting on it with faithful action. I believe action is the best anecdote to fear and anxiety. Good luck!! I'm happy you're doing well.

    1. Wow Stephanie three retainers in six weeks, your work here is done, well doe you too!

  3. Thanks for the great blog... it was like I was reading about the last year of my own life!

  4. Well that's comforting to hear!

  5. Very funny and inspiring, Sam! I took the plunge and registered my own PR Consultancy in October last year, but I'm getting into this freelance thing a bit earlier than you did! This is largely due to circumstance and because I'm determined to make a living doing something I love. Gut instincts, on-the-job learning, text books, great industry mentors, local cafes and blogs like yours are the things getting me through. Admittedly, I do spend a fair bit of my time freaking out (especially by the whole proposal/pitching process), but it's exciting too and I think I'm getting there. Keeley

    1. Thanks Keeley, you're obviously a braver girl than I. And even though I did a 16 year apprenticeship before boldy going, a mild state of anxiety is my permanent companion. Either I'm anxious because I'm so busy and I want to do a great job for the client, or I am anxious because even after just one day of being not so busy, a little anxious voice whispers 'that's it you've ruined your career, the phone will never ring again.' But then I've always believed inner contentment to be a little over rated.

    2. Ha, sounds so familiar - I swing wildly (sometimes within a matter of seconds) between extreme anxiety and extreme, uncontainable excitement. Quite exhausting really - for my partner as well as for me! But I hope this rollercoaster journey will level out a bit once I have a few ongoing/retainer projects. I'm in the middle of pitching for one now, and so far, looking hopeful...Today, I'm trying to decide whether to work sensibly on my business plan or passionately on a half-written first draft of a novel. And, if I'm not careful, I'll end up doing nothing but procastinating and eating biscuits. I find a big learning curve of going freelance/working for yourself, is learning the difference between a delaying distraction and a useful tangent. Hah, balance, I need some...Keeley

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