Joe’s guest post has only been live on my blog for a short while but I’m delighted to say that Kim Borrowdale a former classmate of mine from Kingston University’s post-graduate diploma in Internal Communication Management course, has penned a response from a freelancer’s perspective. Have you been a freelancer for a long time? If so and you would like to add to what Kim has written, do please get in touch.
Diary of a freelancer…
When a link to Joe’s guest blog on the freelance world popped up on my Twitter feed, I instantly clicked through to see whether my experience was in line with his observations.
Now, I’m still relatively green on the freelance frontline with just a year under my belt, but oh, what a year! Joe is spot on with a number of his points – particularly around control, evolution of skills and career fulfilment. But those aside, what I find most interesting is the sea of myths that surround the freelance world. Perhaps, in sharing some of the truths I’ve seen, it will give you a glimpse into what life as a freelancer is like and my views on the future of freelancing.
Myth: Freelancers all work part time and spend their time socialising
Reality: For my current client, yes I do work part time. But, I am working to specific deliverables that are contractually bound rather than the often woolly performance objectives of a permanent member of staff. This means that every day worked is an extremely intense day often juggling multiple deadlines, priorities and people, with my mind jumping from task detail to strategic vision and back again throughout the day. Challenging but in a good way most of the time!
Also, as Joe points out, while I have control of the days and hours I choose to work when selecting my contracts, financial security is a constant concern meaning while I am focused on delivery for my existing client, I must, in parallel, be thinking about my next opportunity. And yes folks, this means being responsible for my own business development and having a lot of ‘coffees’. Socialising IS work for a freelancer!
Myth: As a freelancer you won’t feel like part of an organisation
Reality: I would argue that you have the best of both worlds. As communicators, we have to get to know the organisation and its people in order to advise the client. Now this may take a little more effort over a shorter period of time but I think of it like a new job – the old ‘100 days’ approach, using maximum energy for maximum impact over a short period of time. This naturally leads to building quicker relationships. And, on the social front again, a quick tip for anyone struggling to find their way ‘in’ to an organisation – go to their CSR events. This shows that you are prepared to commit to their culture as well as giving you a chance to meet members of staff in an informal environment.
Myth: As a freelancer you are disconnected from strategy due to focus on project delivery
Reality: This is where I agree with Joe on his point about us all being freelancers. Gone are the days where a communication function can plan with any certainty their next three year communication strategy. With my current client I have encouraged the marketing communication team to take more of an agency approach to internal client service. This not only does wonders for their appreciation of service standards but fosters a more project/campaign way of thinking rather than by communication discipline. This is exactly what a freelancer does – each assignment is a project that needs a finite strategy and business as usual solution on departure. As Joe says, “enable people internally and leave a positive legacy.” Bringing this view into a permanent team, I have already seen a dramatic increase in the creativity they put into their communication planning.
Myth: Freelancers cost a fortune
Reality: As Joe points out, it is about transparency of cost and fluidity of resource. I would like to think that my future as a freelancer involves having a pool of clients, who in turn have a pool of freelancers, who work together on skills-appropriate projects. Not only does this make good business sense but it keeps the work dynamic fresh and free flowing with ideas. And, on a personal note, this model works for me with the idea of working on a number of projects with a range of clients being very appealing.
Well I, for one, hope Joe and the report he quotes are right and the business world continues to open up with freelance opportunities. Apart from the mountain of paperwork that seems to come with freelancing, this past year has shown me that it’s not only the path for me, but one in-house teams are looking to more and more to resource their projects.
That said I am fairly new to this way of life and business so I would love to hear from someone with a few more years under their belt. But, not right now. Must dash. Got to meet someone for a coffee!
Post author: Kim Borrowdale