With lots to learn about my new freelance lifestyle, I’ve decided to interview the people who make freelancing work. Some hints and tips from the masters, that kind of thing. Welcome to the fourth in the series: meet Jaimie MacDonald.
I first met Jaimie at a music and poetry gig in September last year. I was the poetry act for the evening and secretly, I was feeling awful. It was my first week as a full-time freelancer and that day my shower, phone and computer had broken. I was ready to give up and run away but I sat next to Jaimie and as we chatted she told me how she had become a freelancer after a redundancy and it had been the best thing that had ever happened to her. She was running workshops, designing recycled jewellery, life coaching and thoroughly enjoying life. Jaimie was the best person I could have sat next to, she was totally inspiring. I invited her to the first Edinburgh Freelance Friday, which happened to be the very next day. The following evening I headed to my bus stop and there she was, it turned out we were neighbours too! It’s been great getting to know Jaimie over the last few months and we’re now collaborating on recycled craft and storytelling workshops. Here’s Jaimie’s inspirational story…
Originally from a village in the Highlands called Strathpeffer, Jaimie moved to Edinburgh in 2001 to study Jewellery and Silversmithing from Edinburgh College of Art. She continued making jewellery whilst working for Edinburgh’s Scrapstore ‘Bits and Bobs’. She wrote a book entitled ‘Jewellery from Recycled Materials’ and began running adult education workshops for Bits and Bobs. She now works as a freelancer jeweller, educator and life coach.
How did you get started?
Well, I really have had a gradual process of creating my freelance life. I started in part time self-employment as a jeweller in 2005 when freshly graduated with a degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing from Edinburgh College of Art.
Then, it was in a moment of charity funding turmoil that I reflected on the fact that I’d never wanted to be just one thing in life and I had other aspects of me that I wanted to explore. With the exciting possibility of full-time freelance being the reality, I started a Certificate course in Personal Coaching in early 2010. Three months later my coaching course was complete and I had my final day as an employee. I filed my redundancy letter away and started looking forward to what came next as a full time freelancer.
Almost 2 years later I’m still practicing as a freelance jeweller, arts educator and life coach! Yippee!
If you could go back to when you started what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to stop listening to my inner critic and push on past the fear of not feeling good enough, you really need to take care of yourself and don’t get burnt out and demotivated. I would also tell myself how important it is to have supportive and successful people around that are doing the freelance thing too, and for goodness sake don’t be afraid to ask for help, you can’t do it all by yourself!
What do you like best about being a freelancer?
One of the biggest differences that I have enjoyed since being freelance full-time is the freedom to explore this lovely and vibrant city I live in whenever I feel the need to let the world pass me by or get engaged in something new. I also enjoy the fact that I can get to play with the flow of my creative work, learning the rhythms of the different aspects of what I do and importantly I can choose how to fit them together. Still working on it!
What do you find most challenging about being a freelancer?
Putting the effort in to find new work and creating new projects even if you don’t know if they are going to work. Also, moments of procrastination, though I’m trying out some techniques to deal with this…planned procrastination anyone?
How do you know when to stop working?
I try to keep to a general time structure of what kinds of work I do when. 9-5 doesn’t usually happen when it’s a busy spell with my jewellery for example, especially on the run up to Christmas when I can have 3-4 exhibitions to design and make a variety work for. I can generally tell it’s time to stop if I get a fuzzy head and sore neck.
What do you do in your breaks?
My days vary and so do my breaks. Some days my breaks are on the bus where I read and watch the world go by, If I’m in my studio I will curl up in my chair and snooze or go for a wander. At the moment I’m liking the idea of creating some kind of ’break in case of… ‘ map or kit that’ll tell me where my nearest peaceful place/space is so I can escape what I’m doing totally for a little bit before carrying on with my work.
Are you being paid to do what you love or do you do something else to finance what you love?
Oooooh I’m being paid to do what I love! It’s so good to remember that! I run messy play sessions for parents and children through South Edinburgh Healthy Living Initiative and I have been asked by mums ‘so is that what you do for a living?’ and I take great pleasure in acknowledging that ‘yes it is!- I get paid to play and be messy a couple of days a week. Because there are different aspects to what I do they support each other and I can be flexible with where I put my focus depending on time, finances and my need for learning new things .
What are your top money saving tips?
Go to the library for your books and not Amazon if you can help it!
Also I just tend to avoid the shops and when I do go shopping I go for charity shops, craft fairs and ethical fashion sales and of course the wonders of Clothes swapping!
What new projects are in the pipeline?
Jewellery: In the next few months I will be getting on with some of the sketches that have been in my sketchbooks for ages. I’ve wanted to do something more installation/lighting related for a while now and I have the perfect exhibition to work towards in April.
I have been invited to show my work in Norway over the summer and I’m really looking forward to my first international jaunt with my jewellery!
Arts education and Coaching: I want to try more Collaborative working and working with other creative people with different skills I’m feeling the need to challenge myself to incorporate new aspects or ways of delivering workshops or coaching, for example connecting coaching and creative education more closely. I also have a hankering after getting some outdoor learning experience and inviting my childhood explorer out to play!
If you’re an Edinburgh Freelancer why not join the next Edinburgh Freelance Friday on the second Friday of the month, 5.30pm at Sofi’s, Leith. More here.
If you enjoyed this interview, you might like to read the following interviews with Edinburgh Freelancers; Jonathan Melville: Big Person, Big Personality, Jolene Cargill: Opted out because she cares and Alan McIntosh: Man of Mystery Behind The Broughton Spurtle.