I won IPSE’s New to Freelancing Award in June 2019.

I mentioned IPSE in my list of top resources for freelancers. They offer membership for freelancers and you get all sorts of benefits. Stuff like pensions and insurance. They also run a big yearly event for freelancers. National Freelancers Day happens in London every June. 

They do their best to make sure the government is being good to freelancers on things like tax and late paying clients. You can read the latest news from IPSE here.

I almost didn’t enter. I got a nudge from Marge Ainsley, an awesome freelancer, and this blog post from Steve Folland convinced me. It was good to hear from past applicants and winners through Being Freelance.

And now that I’m an award-winning freelancer myself I’ve got my own list of discoveries to share. (I promise I don’t introduce myself to people as award-winning, I feel like a bit of a dick just writing it)

1. There can be a lot of hidden work involved

Putting together the application is a job in itself. And then, if you get shortlisted, you might need to present in front of a panel. That means preparation time and a day out of the office.

There’s the indirect stuff too, like updating the website you’d neglected for the last 6 months and upgrading your poor-quality business cards (500 for £10 though, bargain).

It’s all very exciting, but it takes up a lot of time.

2. It forces you to take stock of your business

On the plus side of all that hard work, it makes you take a good old look at how your business is doing and you even start to think about the future.

When impressive people are going to ask you questions about your business, it helps if you can sound like you know what you’re on about.

With some prize money up for grabs, you start to think about where you would invest it and how it could help your business too. That’s pretty useful.

3. You’ll have to do some uncomfortable stuff (like getting your photo taken and being filmed)

You probably hate being in front of a camera.

But you have to get on with it.

And it turns out photographers and videographers know what they’re doing. Even if they do end up having their hands full editing out your Chandler smiles.

via GIPHY

4. You get to meet loads of new people

This one’s the best.

On the judging day and at the awards do; being involved in something like this opens you up to a big circle of people. Whether it’s people you’ve got to know online or people you’ve never met before.

It gives you a chance to meet like-minded freelancers and chat to people (rather than dogs*) about your business. It’ll feel more like a community than competition.

And because you’re up for an award, it takes any awkwardness of networking out of the equation. People come up to you. And hand you drinks.

*Have you met Fred and George, my 4-legged co-founders?

5. Your wife will make you get a haircut and buy some new shoes

You’ll try to resist it because you’re “not going to win anyway” and you hate shopping.

But you’ll be glad you listened to her in the end. Although you’ll probably want to draw the line at face masks.

Credit: Nisha Haq Photography

Bonus tip: don’t go to an awards do in shoes you’ve never worn before. You might get blisters.

Your turn?

So now you know the things they don’t tell you, maybe it’s time for you to apply for an award?

You might win some money. You might win some biscuits. But I bet it’ll be worth doing, however you get on.

I send out an email once a month on stuff I think you might find interesting. Fancy signing up? Go on, it’ll make my day.

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