On the 2nd of March 2011, I did something I’ve never done before, I spoke about my experiences as a freelancer in front of a large crowd of people.

How did it happen?

Well that’s a short story, you’ll be happy to know.  Neil Leonard (@neilleonard) asked for help on twitter with a talk he was preparing for students at AUCB (The Arts University College at Bournemouth) and needed some last minute help, so I offered – well it turned out he didn’t end up needing help on that particular occasion.  He did however contact me a month or so later for the final talk in the TLK series.

The setup

I turned up at AUCB, met Neil and was shown through to the auditorium for the TLK.  I expected perhaps 20 students, there was 100.  I was expecting an informal chat, there was a panel of ‘experts’, me included, on the stage.

Slightly surprised and a little unnerved, I shook hands with the other members of the panel, instantly forgetting their names and took my seat in front of the 100 faces staring down at me.  It was at this point I was very happy that I’d scrawled some notes down in my sketchbook to talk from!

The Notes

These were by no means comprehensive, just a set of bullets I used to bounce off.  I’ll share them here with you in their bullet form, please ask me to clarify any points further.  Please also read my Year One Round up post, as there are a lot of duplicate points which are explained in more detail there.

  • Sustainability
    • 3 months in advance funds to support you
    • Trust your instincts
    • Keep building a client base
    • Deliver good work on time and on budget
    • Keep communication channels open
    • Be prepared for quiet periods and mega busy periods
  • Pro’s
    • Freedom
    • Work/life balance
    • Control of your own destiny
    • Time to learn new skills (apparently)
    • You can make more money than a full time role
    • You can get to the stage where you choose which projects you want to work on
  • Con’s
    • Watching your finances
    • Keeping on top of invoices
    • Chasing clients
    • Feature creep
    • Late payments
    • Sickness
    • Pension
    • Paying the mortgage
  • Advice
    • Parents
    • Other companies
    • Who do you know that has a skill you can utilise/exploit
  • Gaining Clients
  • Pricing
    • Look around, what’s the going rate
    • Negotiate with clients if you need to, give them an incentive or offer to take you on

The Experience

Luckily, I’m actually quite comfortable with public speaking, so after the initial shock, I really enjoyed talking through my experiences.  I even managed to get a few laughs!

I’d recommend speaking in public and I really hope I get the opportunity to do something similar in the future.