Photo by Vinicius Amano on Unsplash

Setting up on your own can be a big thing for a lot of people. It was for me.

I must admit, it took me a couple of months before I really discovered freelancing. I mean *really* discovered it. The way of working. The community. The mindset.

I wish I’d ‘got it’ before I set up my business. I feel like I’ve been playing catch up over the last few months.

If you’re thinking about setting up a one-person freelance business in whatever shape or form, here’s where I go for support and learning.

Tuck in.

Freelance networks

Freelance Heroes

Run by Ed and Annie, they’ve just hit 5000 members. That’s right. 5000!

It’s the go-to community for freelance support and advice. I have a bit of an aversion to Facebook but if there’s one reason to get over it next year, it’s this. They’re a great support on Twitter too.

They put out an interview with a different Freelance Hero each week which are always full of helpful tips and advice.

I’m also looking forward to the annual event next year. Tickets still available if you’re quick!

Museum Freelance

Run by Marge and Christina, I’ve found it to be a really friendly community of freelancers in the cultural sector. And the meet ups in the North have been really handy for me.

They organise a conference every year too. The next one is being held at Manchester Art Gallery in March. Grab a ticket before it’s too late.

Whatever your industry or specialism though, I bet there’s a friendly network out there for you.

Twitter

It’s not a network as such. Well, a social media network I guess. But there are loads of freelancers knocking about and everyone is really open and supportive. It’s my favourite platform, so I’m biased.

Get out and meet people

Online is great, particularly as I live out in the sticks. But nothing beats getting out and meeting people. And I say this as a proper introvert. You’ll be amazed how willing and helpful other freelancers are.

Probably the best thing I did this year was reach out to Marge over the summer. Someone I used to work with said ‘Marge is a good example of a freelancer’. He wasn’t wrong.

It was at a time when I was in a bit of a muddle and felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. She probably doesn’t know it, but that catch up made a massive difference. Not only did Marge give me honest answers, I could see a model freelancer in front of me. Someone to look up to and learn from.

So if you’re thinking ‘I could really learn from that person’, what are you waiting for?

Memberships

There are so many memberships about. It can be pretty overwhelming to be honest.

This is only my take, but I have 2 tips if you’re going freelance.

Check out IPSE

I only joined recently, but I’d not realised just how many benefits you get access to, from pensions and insurance to money off your weekly food shop.

They also hold a National Freelancers Day event each year. And it’s free. FREE. (Well, it was when I signed up as an IPSE member)

If in doubt, spread yourself

That sounds a bit dodgy. But I’ve signed up to more memberships than you can shake a stick at over the last 6 months. I now have a much better idea of which are worth my money, whether it’s lead generation or peer support. And those that aren’t giving me enough back, I’ll be knocking on the head.


Podcasts

These have been a revelation for me. I don’t think I’d even listened to a podcast until this year. Now I can’t get enough of them. There are loads to choose from and they’re ideal for dog walking. I’ve got into vlogs too. Sophie’s pulled together a great list of these.

Here’s my top 3 podcasts.

Being Freelance

This is without doubt my favourite. As the name suggests, people share their experiences of being freelance. It doesn’t matter what they do. There’s over 150 episodes and I learn something from each one. I’ve nearly caught up.

Steve also has a weekly (most of the time) vlog which I’d thoroughly recommend checking out. I binged on them in the early months. So much so my wife thought I had a man crush. I think she was jealous of the Adidas Folland’s.

Data Stories

My day job is research and data so this has been a real find. For a data geek, it’s such a good listen on all things data visualisation.

But whatever your field, I bet there’s a podcast for you.

That Peter Crouch Podcast

There’s absolutely no work value in this one, but I love it!

Books

Less of a revelation, I’ve always liked reading. I don’t think you can beat a good book. And my wife’s a librarian so I’d be in trouble if I didn’t.

I generally download businessy books on my Kindle. I recently read Kate Toon’s Confessions of an Entrepreneur. Give it a go. Break the Wheel from Jay Acunzo is next on my list.

I also love the feel of a physical book. Andy Kirk’s Data Visualisation has pride of place in the office next to my CAMRA Good Beer Guide. I’m determined to work through it over Christmas. Andy’s book, I mean.

I’d love your recommendations on good books to read.

Blogs

I spend too much time on Twitter. But the plus side is I come across loads of great blogs.

If you’re freelance, or thinking about it, here are a couple of regular bloggers I’d recommend seeking out.

  • Dave Smyth – if you’ve got a question on payment terms or contracts, Dave is a good bet. He’s launching Work Notes next year which is sure to be useful for anyone freelancing.
  • Sophie Livingston – Sophie regularly interviews other freelancers for her Kickstart Stories and they’re always packed with helpful tips and feedback on growing a freelance business.

Quotes

I love a good quote. I had to end on this.

I’ve picked out 3 from 3 people I’m really looking forward to meeting in 2019. In fact, I’m hoping 2019 is the year I turn online connections into real life ones.

“Success only comes from being yourself. Their way isn’t your way. Don’t be something or someone you’re not. People see through it.”

~ Gareth aka That Content Shed, from Gareth’s rather good 101 things blog

“Social media was NEVER created as a business marketing tool. When you change your mindset to fit with this, that’s when the magic happens.”

~ Pippa Akram aka Social Pip, from a Twitter debate that Pippa nailed in one magical tweet

“No freelancer is an island”

~ Ed Goodman

To be honest most of Ed’s tweets and blogs are gold, but this is my favourite. As a freelancer, the sooner you get your head around this the better.

Ed also thinks 2019 is going to be the ‘Year of the Freelancer’. And who am I to argue with that.

Tomorrow, I sign off for 2018 with a blog about finding my work life ‘mesh’.

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