When I think of someone who is a freelancer, I automatically think of a creative person. Someone who works in design, a photographer, a musician. Someone who wears a lot of hats. That pre-existing idea soon went out the window when I went to the Freelancers Forum.
The Freelancers Forum was held in D-Light Studios. The space itself was the perfect venue for this event. Open and airy with a lot of space for everyone chat and get to know each other. Which is exactly what freelancers need. I spoke to Erica and Amy who are both graphic designers. Erica is from Argentina and Amy is from South Africa. Both told me that in other countries, there are lots of events catered to freelancers. From meetups to parties, freelancers often have lots of connections. But when they came to Ireland, both found it very difficult to meet other freelancers who worked in their field. They were actually quite surprised and happy to have met each other at the event and instantly started chatting. ‘Thank God for Instagram!’ explained Erica who had seen the ad for the forum there.
Defining a Freelancer
As someone who freelanced for a year, I had no idea what my rights were. It’s different when you are an employee of a company, you have rights and your tax is looked after every month. But as a freelancer, you’ve to do all that yourself. You are your own accountant, hr person, marketing department, it’s all you. And it can be hard to figure out where to go to ask questions. Panel 3 had a great resource of people who can answer these very questions. The OECD, in particular, are looking into regulations that can benefit people who work in the ‘gig economy’.
What does it take to be a freelancer?
Passion and tenacity, Ruth Medjber answered. It takes a lot to have that passion to get up in the morning and find clients. It’s easy to stay in bed and watch Netflix all day but then, you have to pay the rent. Turan Mirza always thought of himself as a freelancer. He was the fifth person to start in Fujitsu but even then, had to build the team from the beginning. Niall Byrne (aka Nialler9) started his career by accident. He was working in web design but was fully immersed in his music blog. Reputation got him more jobs and eventually, Niall started working on Nialler9 full time.
At the break, I met Roy and Claire. Roy works in Theology and Claire works in music and neuroscience. That’s what I meant earlier about my pre-existing idea of what a freelancer was like. I was really impressed by chatting to the two of them. Both had so much knowledge already and were eager to learn more and create new ideas that they can work on in the future.
Going it Alone is Better with Others
Panel 2 focused on finding your tribe and finding spaces that helped you work and connect you as a freelancer with a community. D-Light Studios, founded by Agata Stoinska is a great space for this. Not only does it have office space for freelancers and businesses alike, but it also has room for creatives and those who work in practical work such as massage therapy. Huckletree is another great space for freelancers who want to meet others who are working for themselves or as a startup. It’s a place for people to collaborate.
Well-being as a Freelancer
This is something that is constantly overlooked. As freelancers, working 24/7 is something that is done quite regularly. Niall Byrne noted that when he goes on holidays, he often feels guilty for not checking his emails. Or Ruth Medjber also pointed out that there’s always this fear that if you do take time off and not answer a client straight away, they will go off and find someone who will. ‘There’s no loyalty’.
At this point the audience split into groups and went to ‘expert surgeries’ to find out more about a particular subject. I chose wellness as I think it’s important to have a good work-life balance. Lou Horgan hosted this part of the forum. Lou suggested to us who attended that we need to be more disciplined in regards to our time on screens. One man noted that he had trouble sleeping. That he only slept six hours a night and was becoming stressed and agitated. Lou suggested he switch off his phone a couple of hours before he went to bed. The lights from our phones and laptops etc can affect our vision, giving us headaches and disrupting our sleep. As a yoga teacher, she showed us all some basic stretches we can do at home or in the office. Sitting on a hard chair all day can really irritate my back so these stretches and movements were great for me.
I really enjoyed the Freelancers Forum and can’t wait for the next one. I’m excited to see more freelancers come together and start a community. To find out when the next Freelancers Forum is, check out or check out their Facebook page here.
Why is it so important for a Freelancer to build a network? Find out here.