Saturday, 1 March 2014

Happy freelance birthday to me, I am three!

Celebrating three years of being an independant PR/marketing person.
Wow what a ride!


Victoria Wood once told this joke about how you lavish so much attention on your first child, that you go so far as to score the wall recording for all eternity your firstborn’s height with wonder and awe (since my 13 year old son is already clocking 6ft 3' we are adding a soup├žon of morbid fascination in to the mix now too). Anyhow she went on to remark that by the time you have your third child, you merely note their vertical progress by the rising  tide mark of nose smearings on your coat sleeve…

And so it is for freelancing. First year I had a cocktail party and people came from miles around, Second year I at least opened a bottle of champagne and shared it with those that happened to be passing. Third year, Feb 10th completely passed me by. Writing this, with a vodka and tonic in hand is as much as I can muster to commemorate the occasion. Just like a third child - it’s not that I love the freelance life any less, far from it, but just that I’m really busy - new clients, new projects, new sectors, new territories and I got accredited. Even the dog behaves pretty good now.


So as is now customary, sharing a few random lessons learned this year:

That's me that is

Cautionary tale – Be careful how much time you allocate to individual pitches. I have a strong agency background so I like pitching, the smell of the chase, and all that. But it is easy to get carried away, do some sums on the back of an envelope look at the potential gain and then assign a realtive cost to winning it. I completely lost it over the summer chasing a big account but where my personal gain was quite insignificant. I blame the heat.

Motivational moment
 – As you get busier you may feel inclined to focus on just the high value projects or to really specialize. For example, in line with the industry’s increased appetite for credible content, I have seen a surge in demand for copywriting  skills this year, but if I just did that all the time I’d burn out. Much better to have several diverse projects on the go, it keeps the mind agile. And even when you are busy, don’t’ forget to fill your boots with psychic income – my work with the Taylor Bennet Foundation continues to be the most fulfilling aspect of my freelance career.

Cautious tale
 – So I’m still working at 2011 mates' rates for my early retained clients and now I know them so well, asking for an increase on the day rate feels kind of #awkward. But the nicest client in the world is unlikely to suggest you take a pay rise. I’m just going to have to man up - distasteful as it is. Suggest to avoid getting into this situation in the first place any day rate deal you agree comes with the proviso 'to be reviewed in six months', ample time to prove your salt and get you on more equitable terms.

Motivational moment
 – When pickings get plentiful, share the spoils, share the stress, share the funds, share the love, keep delivering above and beyond. Officially forming the collective was the smartest thing I did this year.

that's us that is!

Cautionary tale – Now it’s seven days a week 11-7, and that’s normal. The weekends have become the time to do the behind the scenes stuff, the banking, admin, marketing etc. So to make sure you don’t lose sight of why you turned freelance in the first place, in my case - to spend time with that gargantuan boy of mine – take enforced breaks, ( I’m averaging about eight weeks leave a year). Anywhere that is a Wi-Fi black spot will do nicely.

Motivational moment – Three years ago I turned my back on the security of an established and respected career, with the attitude of how hard can it be? That was the wrong question. I should have asked, 'how intense can this be?' Flipping intense actually. But it turns out, when you learn not to measure your worth by your job title, not to value security above freedom and control, you become infinitely richer, eventually!

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy:

Happy freelance birthday to me - I am two!
Happy freelance birthday to me - I am one!
The highs and lows of a fledgling freelancer

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