But during that time I’ve spoken to lots of people, I’ve ‘won’ some fantastic work and I’ve missed out on a potentially lucrative project that would’ve been massive fun (think luxury lingerie brand + Fifty Shades of Grey).
I’ve spent lots of time travelling in the car and, as a result, immersed myself in the world of podcasting and become addicted to Serial. I’ve drunk a lot of coffee with a lot of different people.
And I’ve loved pretty much every minute of it.
I’ve also already learned a lot about independent working. These are the four biggest things I’ve noticed so far:
Probably the most overwhelming feeling I’ve had in the last month, and one that I wasn’t expecting, is freedom. It’s difficult to really put into words, but the knowledge that I can choose what I work on, from where and, more importantly, who I work with is wonderfully liberating. I recommend it, I really do.
People are everything
Something struck me within the first week of being out on my own.
I’ve already written about the response I received when I announced I was going freelance, and I’m still astounded by the sheer volume of good wishes and offers of help I’ve received from friends, acquaintances and even strangers.
If I’d been able to accept all the invitations for a coffee and a chat I’ve had in the last month, I wouldn’t have slept due to caffeine overload. But I’m hugely grateful for every single one of those invitations and I do intend to take all of them up over the next couple of months.
And then…there’s the very, very small handful of people who have been less helpful. The people who said all the right things but obviously want everything on their own terms. Whatever, dude: see ‘Freedom’ above.
It’s an inescapable fact of agency life that thou shalt pitch. And thou shalt pitch lots. Thou shalt spend hours and days researching and preparing work that there’s a very good chance will never see the light of day. Added to that, the average cost of preparing a pitch in the PR world has been stated as around £10,000. Pitching sucks.
But unless I’ve got this very wrong, as an independent consultant one doesn’t pitch. At least, not in the agency sense of the word.
Sure you have to convince people you’re the right dude for the job. But you don’t go up against three other freelancers for every single project. And you don’t waste half your life designing Powerpoint decks.
Instead, you talk to people. And you spend your time devising strategies and doing work that actually has an impact. Crazy, huh?!
There’s nowhere to hide
Last week I was knackered. By the middle of the week I was completely exhausted, and had I been in an agency environment, chances are I would have kept myself to myself and taken it easy for a couple of days. But not as a freelancer.
I’m working with several clients, each of which has every right to demand of me value for the money they’re paying me. Besides which, I want to give them value for the money they’re paying me.
That’s the flip side of the aforementioned freedom. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. And if you’re physically or mentally shattered, or you feel rough, or you haven’t slept, well, tough. Suck it up.
As I say, one month isn’t a great amount of time to be independent. The dinosaurs lived for 170 million years, so it doesn’t rank hugely high up the scale of universal longevity. A fruit fly lives the same amount of time as I’ve been working for myself, for heaven’s sake.
But if my first few weeks are anything to go by, I recommend freelancing to anyone.