When I sit down to write the intro of this email every month I usually have some kind of take away message in mind. I don’t have that this month. 

I have more questions than answers, but I’m hoping some of you can relate and maybe even help.

I’ve been going through an identity crisis. I know I have because I searched for ‘how to tell if you’re having an identity crisis?’ and found that asking yourself the question ‘who am I?’ is a tell-tale sign. 

It’s a two-fold crisis. 

First of all, I’ve been struggling to work out if I’m a freelancer, an agency, a consultant, or an independent. Am I all of those things or none of them? 

I started out as a freelancer. I still feel like a freelancer. I like being a freelancer. 

But I also have an intern. So it’s no longer just me. Because of that, I find myself describing Pearson Insight as an agency. Something I’ve never had ambitions to be.

Can you still be a freelancer if you have someone working for you? Or does that, by default, make you something more? This not being able to find a label for myself got me thinking about how pinning colours to a mast affects the work you do and clients you attract. 

Am I limiting myself by calling myself a freelancer and not an agency or consultant? Does agency suggest a team with substantial resources? Does consultant suggest authority? I know that being a freelancer doesn’t make me any less capable. But what does the label say to others — personal touch, affordable service, cheap, small-time? Do I care? Should I care?

It’s the same with what I do. I feel like I’m on a constant quest to find my niche. I like working in different sectors, using my research skills in different ways. But I keep reading that having a really clear niche is better for business. Maybe I don’t have a niche? I do research in the public and cultural sectors, but that’s still pretty broad. Maybe I’m niche-ish. 

Anyway, I need to find who I am so I don’t become something I’m not. Any and all advice is welcome.

Reverting back

A couple of months ago I decided to tweak my website copy. I switched it from ‘I’ to ‘we’ to reflect the fact Laura had joined Pearson Insight.

I did it because I felt that’s what you’re supposed to do. You take someone on, so you’re no longer independent.

But I brought Laura in because I needed help and wanted to give someone an opportunity, not because I wanted to expand.

So I’m switching the copy back to how it was. It was more personal that way. Pearson Insight is me with help.

Plus, the website is plastered with photos of my face, so moving away from ‘we’ solves the problem of ‘where is everyone else?’ 

Hopefully, the change is a first step towards me figuring out who I’m meant to be.

(In typical freelancer fashion, in the process of updating my web copy I've managed to break the navigation bar on my mobile site. It's on the to-do list)

Gifts for freelancers, made by freelancers

The Being Freelance Gift Guide is back for 2020. It’s like an Argos catalogue for freelancers. There are books, tech gadgets, stationery, art, homewares, food, clothes and accessories, loads of which are made by freelancers. 

I’ve got my eye on a Being Freelance biscuit tin. 

Browse: The Being Freelance Gift Guide 2020

Visualising survey data

Ever run a survey, get some data back and then have no idea what to do with it? Well, Colin has written just the blog for you. From picking the right charts to making the most of Big Ass Numbers. 

Read: Where to start with visualising your survey data 

30 days of maps

Speaking of visualising things, in November I became obsessed with the #30DayMapChallenge on Twitter. It involves very smart mapping folk visualising data in clever and creative ways. It’s perhaps a niche one, but I think anyone will appreciate how some people have taken on the challenge. 

Endlessly scroll: #30DayMapChallenge

47 years of trees

That’s a misleading header. Trees haven’t been around for 47 years. As you’ll well know if you’ve been around for over 47 years.

What has been around for 47 years is National Tree Week (28/11 - 06/12). It started in 1973 as a response to Dutch Elm Disease, which stops trees from getting the water they need. The week is all about getting communities to come together and plant as many trees as they can to help their local environment. 

A cause we can all get behind.  

Learn more: National Tree Week 2020 

Use it and lose it

I use a free tool called Privnote to share passwords to secure files. It’s a self-destructing sharing site. You create a note, copy the link and send it. Once the person opens and sees the contents it vanishes and the link no longer works. 

It’s ideal if you’re sending private information that you don’t want lying around in someone’s inbox. 

Try: Privnote 

Freelance soundtrack

Still as good now as it was then, 21 years ago. TWENTY-ONE YEARS AGO. I feel old.

And this alternative for cricket fans... The Mark Wood Song, to the tune of Driftwood. 

Go well.


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