Well, hello!

It’s been a while.

The monthly research roundup had a Christmas break. I was too busy eating chocolate and watching films. I hope you were too. Feels a long time ago already, doesn’t it?

But it’s back now! How exciting.

I’ve been pretty busy over the last month or so, much of it self-inflicted.

I played about with my website and started to add some projects and testimonials. I’ve got more to add and it’s difficult to give the detail I’d like but take a look if you want.

The week before Christmas I lost the plot a bit and decided to write 5 blogs in 5 days about my first 6 months being freelance. From surfing metaphors to warts and all accounts, hopefully there are some useful bits in there somewhere.

I’ve been studying for a Market Research Society qualification over the last 6 months and January was crunch time with an assignment and exam to get through. My exam was yesterday and aside from the theory side of it, the hardest bit was actually writing by hand for 2 ½ hours solid!

Some interesting articles I’ve come across recently

The rise of Citizens Panels in Poland

“Nowadays we know that the citizens have expertise, that they often know much better than their leaders. Instead of being local prophets, politicians are learning that they need to build links with society – not to ‘manage’ the people, but to serve them.”

A decade of austerity in the public sector

Nice example of data visualisation on the not-so-nice high street ‘crisis’

Latest views from chief executives on the state of councils

Very useful stats and insight into media use and attitudes of children and parents

There was a really interesting thread over on that there Twitter last week, capturing discussions between freelancers, organisations and procurement bods on the commissioning process for research. Check out #VSGevents to see what they had to say.

What am I focusing on this year?

I’m not into New Year’s resolutions. I don’t think anyone actually sticks to them. But I have been thinking about what I want to do more of this year.

Learning more

I want to step up my game on the learning front. It’s kind of a no brainer whatever you do, but particularly if you are your business.

I’m reading a lot more. I’ve just finished Jay Acunzo’s Break the Wheel which, even if you don’t run a business, is a good read. It’s all about how you question best practices and trust your intuition to make better decisions for your context. I’m now on Company of One by Paul Jarvis which centres on making your business better not bigger.

I’ve also have some training lined up which I think will help me deliver better services for clients, starting with Andy Kirk’s data visualisation course next month. This isn’t about pretty infographics but about critical thinking when data is visualised and presented. His blogs are well worth checking out at www.visualisingdata.com

Getting out more

I work from home. I really like it. But some weeks it can be pretty lonely. So I want to push myself to get out more. I’ve started meeting up with other freelancers for a spot of lunch and co-working. The office views at Cuerden Valley in Lancashire are hard to beat.

I’m also going to a few conferences with other freelancers. I have no expectations of meeting any potential clients, but I can’t wait to meet other people in similar situations to me, share our experiences and support each other. Starting with the Museum Freelance conference in March, Freelance Heroes Day in May and National Freelancers Day in June. If you’re going to any of these, I’ll be the socially awkward, undersized guy in the corner.

Giving more

In March I’ll be deciding on some local charities and organisations to donate to. I’ve been stockpiling a £1 for every new follower on Twitter, connection on Linkedin and email subscription since I set up on my own. The total is approaching £700 now and I’ll probably send out a quick survey in March to help me decide where it goes.

This year me and my wife want to give more of our time instead. And not just because we need to save for new carpets. More on this in the next month or so.

I’d love to know what you’ve got planned this year? Any conferences or training courses I need to be at? Books I need to read?  

As always, if I can help at all just shout.


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