Going freelance


I’ve been wanting to write something about what’s been happening for me for a while .. here goes.

Early last year the opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy came up at Brighton & Hove City Council where I had been working for 6 years.  The way it works is that you can put an application in and only a few months later do you have to absolutely commit.  I put my application in very much undecided, almost “in case”.  And then followed a very long few months cogitating, discussing and putting my finger into the wind.  I had already been asked to consider a position by a prominent digital company, so I gained self-belief from that but the complication was that we were also expecting our THIRD boy in the same timeframe and the job involved a fair bit of long distance travel.  And as some of you will know, I had worked really hard to firstly secure the Patchwork project in Brighton and Hove and then been hard at implementation for over a year.  I had to think about letting that go, along with the job security and the healthy 21 miles of cycling each day along the coast.  On the positive side I had a good sense of how possible it might be to network with other organisations and agencies if I ended up having to be freelance, because it has been a bit of a speciality of mine in my work, and I’d also been fully into “camps” and twitter for a couple of years and had a good network.  I felt like I might be able to make my own luck and was excited with the possibility of trying.

It was all very difficult to think about, much of it speculation –  so many moving parts.  There was also one very patient and understanding person who’d offered me the job who was just amazing.

D-Day eventually came close and my INCREDIBLE partner was still being wonderfully supportive (even though she later told me she was very worried too).  I had to commit without anything concrete arranged, still really undecided, and with a leave date two days before our third boy was due to be born!  Very luckily for me, I was contacted by Surrey County Council who were about to implement Patchwork across the county.  Could I come and lead the implementation?  Well I looked at the map and it was just the right thing to do.  It was fantastic timing and I could sit back and enjoy 6 weeks with my new born son (who hasn’t stopped smiling since he was born, I swear).

I went to see an accountant, thought of a company name and registered it at Companies House.  I went to my bank and opened a business bank account.  I organised professional liability insurance and long term sickness insurance.  And I bought a second car and kissed goodbye to my flattish stomach.  Later, after a couple of months into my initial 6 month contract I found a graphic designer and worked up a logo.  Then I found strikingly.com and sorted out my website at rethinkdo.co.uk.  Thinking about next steps, I contacted a previous boss who was about to start at Adur & Worthing Councils and got a few days more work there.  I started contacting all the cool digital agencies and innovation think-tanks and began to forge links with some which will hopefully somehow open up opportunities for future collaborations or work offers.  I began thinking about what it is I actually do, and am still thinking!  I’m still at Surrey for a while longer but I’m a whole mix of feelings day to day.  Anxious,  energised, doom-laden, optimistic, excited.  I don’t know how it will turn out.  I’ll just keep networking while trying to deliver concrete value to people.  I’ll keep thinking about where I fit in.  I reckon it’ll be ok with purposeful thought and effort.

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2 thoughts on “Going freelance

  1. Good on you. Intook VR from Kent CC in August 2011, at age 57. Gave me the opportunity to put my photographic work, formerly just a paying hobby, on to a better footing. Have never regretted it for a moment.

    It’s important not only to decide what you want to do, but also who you want to be. My job had taken over my life to the extent it was shaping how I responded even to non-work things. Took me a few months to appreciate the extent to which being “out of it” allowed me to “reinvent myself”, as I put it at the time. My OH felt that the extent this point attracted and intrigued me showed the extent to which I’d become institutionalised, for want of a better word.

    Get out there and do it!

    Tom

    1. That sounds really brilliant. You’re right about work-life. TBH where I am at the moment, at 42 and with three very young kids, it’s a lot about re-inventing my work life, rather than my life, if you see what I mean. I do need to foster other pursuits more – thank you for your comments.

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