2017: you’ve served me well

I thought I’d share my experiences of my first six months of being freelance and the rich variety and spice of life this has given me. One thing I’ve learnt (among many) is that self-promotion is very important so please permit me this indulgence. It’s been one helluva half year as a lone ranger.

I went to a 6am sober rave up The Shard, watched the sunrise and was lucky enough to call it work. I spoke on a panel. I was offered £20 to write an article and was offered £0 to write an article a couple of times too. There have been many interviews, coffees and events – some have led to work, some were dead ends (but I’ve learnt it’s always worth going). I had my own business cards made and plastered them all over my Instagram very excitedly. I landed a lot of work from replying to tweets and Facebook posts (the power of social media is very much real).

I was freelance arts editor at the app DOJO where I researched London exhibitions to write up.  I spent two weeks in Wales working from home home and walked the dog in my lunch break. I’ve continuously worked with ME v ME: the new British activewear brand. I’ve helped them with traditional PR (i.e. getting their stuff into newspapers/magazines) and influencer marketing (i.e. getting bloggers with lots of followers to wear their stuff and post a photo). I secured pieces in Stylist, Cosmopolitan, Dose, About Time and big shot influencers posted about the brand too. I’ve also been helping FizzArrow with their social media, including competitions and influencer marketing. We sent some products to Emma Gannon and she shared to her 16,000 followers, which was pretty exciting.

I’ve also been working with Salma El-Wardany who is a poet, entrepreneur, influencer and content marketing lady extraordinaire. I do monthly copywriting for her clients so this means anything from writing blog posts about VR or diversity, to transcribing interviews between two tech CEOs, to putting together Instagram captions for a wine start-up. I’ve also helped develop her influencer brand so she can start looking into collaborations.

Ever since my first week of being freelance, the lovely Tamsin Daniel has been bringing me on to help with her (ever growing) client base. Predominantly art PR, I’ve helped promote the new Banksy Basement, the Making Places art initiative in Waltham Forest (they’re turning the whole borough into an outdoor installation) and Roy’s People Art Fair, as well as exhibitions, artists and cafes. All amazing, creative clients (my bag) and really fun to work on.

The art/lifestyle PR agency Scott & Co took me on for five days. They have some incredible clients including Sushi Samba, Southplace Hotel and the RA. Funnily enough I really enjoyed being back in an office, as part of a very talented team, and they put me on some great influencer projects.

At digital marketing agency Harvest Digital, I’ve been working on a disability awareness video campaign for the past two months on a rolling contract. One of the three participants in the campaign is Umber Ghauri; an LGBTQ makeup artist who suffers from severe endometriosis. In the video she talks about how she “came out” as disabled and that seemed to really resonate with the media; it was picked up by pretty much every LGBTQ publication. It’s about labels and ladies and race and invisible illnesses and minorities and artists and women of colour and sexuality and identity and…bathrooms (but only if you look reaaallly closely).

I also have a new yoga teacher/meditation coach client who I’m helping by rewriting her website and developing her brand. It seems that – not necessarily on purpose – I’m moving into the ‘wellness’ sphere, which is a great space to be in at the moment (but trying to avoid the pretentious stuff to make it more accessible/bearable).

By December, I was overwhelmed by work and had to actually turn projects down. I was managing three inboxes and people were coming to me directly to offer work, including press trip invitations. I had compliments on my CV, which had never happened that often before, as I’ve got so much to cram into it. Finally people are recognising variety as a good thing (goodbye pigeon hole). I’ve kept on top of updating my website regularly. I’ve set up a Contently. I’ve issued 30 invoices since June.

2017 has also been pretty mad in terms of travelling and my carbon footprint (the guilt the guilt but the fun the fun) as I went abroad 10 out of the 12 months. It looked a little something like this:

January – Went to Seoul to see my old uni pal who is there teaching English. It was bloody cold. South Korea is a strange place. I got some great clothes and accidentally ate meat.
FebruaryTokyo with said friend and giant boyfriend. Their heights and combined blonde locks caused quite a stir amongst the tiny old Japanese ladies and it was hilarious to watch. Stayed in a capsule hotel. Probably the most amazing city I’ve ever been to.
March – I went skiing in California for work (“skiing in California?! For work?!”) Four years in travel PR definitely had its perks. I tried to ski (badly) and fell completely, utterly in love with San Francisco (all the rumours are true – it is as incredible as they say).
April – Stayed in my friend’s AirBnB in Dalarna, Sweden. They chopped wood, I drank a lot and stayed pretty sedated the entire time. We saw the season change literally overnight, which was magical. I still dream about those runs – the air was so delicious. I was curious about the history behind the wooden houses, did some digging and ended up writing about Sweden’s timber heritage for Aesthetica.
May – Didn’t go anywhere but did EMBARK on my freelance journey…
June – Booked onto a spontaneous trip to Cuba with my beloved sister and our friend who, I’m pretty sure, wanted to kill use by the end. Became addicted to Pina Coladas, spoke a lot of bad Spanish, saw some beautiful buildings. I’ve had ‘Despacito’ in my head ever since.
July – Went to Sofia with my sister. Wrote about the burgeoning art scene for Amuse. Bought some great clothes (three kimonos for £1.50 in case you’re interested).
August – Ticked off my TENTH consecutive Green Man Festival back at home in Wales. Does that count as travelling? I’m still 100% sure the Brecon Beacons is the most beautiful place on the planet, so, yes.
September – I was sent to Sri Lanka to review the Owl and Pussycat Hotel, which was just so incredible. Made some lovely new industry friends. Drank a lot of Arrak. Scouted out a yoga Shala. Wrote about it for Amuse.
October – Headed to the Buergenstock Resort in Switzerland, which has reopened after nine years of renovation. Audrey Hepburn got married there so I was expecting nothing short of sublime but those views… When they opened my room door I burst into tears in a true “I can’t believe I can stay here and call it work” moment. Met some lovely American journalists, one of whom had the NY Times logo tattooed on his arm. Wrote about it for Amuse.
November – SUITCASE (I adore the mag and the team) sent me to the gorgeous Caudalie spa hotel near Bordeaux. Went on the EuroStar for the first time. Was given a ‘vinotherapy’ facial and some lovely freebies to take with me. Drank gallons of wine (in a chic French way). Tried to translate bits here and there (finally my degree came in use). Wrote about it here. Also went to Budapest and pruned up in the baths – wrote about it for Amuse.
December – Settled down. Worked very hard. And finally it was Christmas.

So what’s on for 2018? I’m copywriting the website for Casio’s new watch (great agency and great brand). They loved my portfolio and picked me out of a long list of freelance copywriters, which is always good to hear. I also might be working on an amateur photographer festival, which would be fun. Followed by a month long trip in February to Canada and California; a ‘winter without the ski’ themed press trip to Quebec writing for The Week (fanchy) followed by a week in Montreal. Then to LA and Modernism Week to write for The Spaces about beautiful houses in Palm Springs then back to beloved San Francisco. Also seeing some California friends who I miss dearly.

You read so many “how to do a job you love!” articles and it turns out, for me, the trick was doing lots of different jobs and never knowing what’s around the corner. Here’s to an amazing 2018 of freelance freedom.

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