I’ve been a full-time freelancer for one year and I’m still alive. It’s been a year of opportunities and challenges. It’s also been a year since I started Freelance Friday. The aim was to get some freelancers together for a drink after work once a month. It started informally, in my first week as a full-time freelancer. I wanted to help create community with people who are living and working a little differently.
What I Loved About Freelance Friday
I loved meeting new people and getting to know them better. I’d often have emails from newbies saying how much they enjoyed themselves and what a lovely bunch of people they’d met. I loved that people were having a good time together.
We had a couple of regular attendees take redundancy to become full-time freelancers – I think meeting so many people who were making a go of it may have helped them with their decisions.
As a freelancer I find not knowing what’s next in terms of work unsettling and sometimes frightening. I was encouraged to meet others who have been doing the freelance thing for years. I started interviewing freelancers, I wanted to share their inspirational stories, here’ one of the interviews with Jaimie.
Plus the chat every month was great – interesting topics being debated and lots of banter!
The Challenge of Feeling Alone
After many months though, I was struggling. The night that was about helping freelancers to feel less alone seemed to be making me feel a bit, well… alone! That probably sounds ridiculous but I found it hard organising things by myself. I wanted it to be a team effort but I wasn’t sure how to make that happen. I found committing every month difficult – sometimes I was working in Glasgow so getting back in time was practically impossible. It was really important to me to welcome new people but often they all arrived at different times so I felt like I had to be there the entire evening which I usually wanted to be but often I’d miss other things. The problem was I wanted to be an attendee not an organiser.
One month I asked Milo McLaughlin to host because I was in Glasgow – he did a brilliant job and it was so nice to come along later on that evening when I got back.
The month after we had a small attendance, just seven. It was still a good night but I missed my friend’s leaving party to be there and I suddenly thought why am I doing this? Maybe people didn’t really want to come along, so many had said they were coming that week and hadn’t turned up. Maybe I was just annoying people by sending them reminders. So I decided to leave it – the following month I’d been invited to a cocktail making session and I went to that instead.
Then people started asking me when Freelance Friday was back. I explained I’d decided to leave it. People said what a shame that was, that they wanted to meet up. I kept getting tweets about it. Lilly Hunter, one of the brilliant regulars was quite persistent so I asked her if she could help to organise things. You might know her from twitter as @LillyLyle. She said yes and that was wonderful. So Lilly booked our regular room at Sofi Bar and invited people. I did my usual thing of sending everyone on the twitter list of Edinburgh Freelancers a reminder or two. It felt like a team effort, I didn’t feel alone and we all had a lovely night. Over twenty people turned up.
The Plan for the Future
That night I started telling people I was finding it difficult to organise things every month and I asked if people might consider hosting for one month of the year. For their month they would book the venue, invite people along, promote it in any way they wanted and be there on the night. They could host in pairs. It could be informal, small scale or big. That way the ownership and responsibility would be shared and we’d still get to meet up and welcome new people. Everyone seemed to think it was a good idea. We took a break for August and tonight we’re back.
This time we’re at the lovely Hemma Bar at 6pm, Sofi’s big brother down by the parliament at Holyrood.
We have a free buffet, I talked with the manager and they were happy to provide some food, hurrah! Hopefully now people will arrive at a similar time rather than half arriving before teatime and half arriving after. Lilly has been helping with organising things again – she’s been amazing!
So that’s the story of Freelance Friday and that’s the plan for the future.
If you just want to come along you’re most welcome. It’s at 6pm this evening at Hemma Bar at the bottom of Holyrood Road, opposite the Scotsman building. We’ve reserved the bit with the couches.
If you would like to host one month that would be grand – please do let me know. I’ll chat to people tonight about it too and I’ll add future dates to the bottom of this blog.
Hopefully see you there.