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    My Advice: Going freelance

    By Lizzie Stafford


    Going freelance means giving up a steady income, sick leave, holiday pay and the security of knowing where you’ll be or what you’ll be working on tomorrow, next week or a month from now. But it also means more creative freedom, flexibility, independence – and being able to nap during the day. We asked four freelancers – a graphic designer, a writer and editor, a consultant and collaborator and a creative director – for some advice on how to make the transition into working for yourself.

    Be practical.

    Jo Hoban, freelance editorial consultant and creative collaborator

    “I made the shift to freelancing when I had young babies, and it suited me—I knew I wouldn’t have a wealth of time to work anyway, but I managed different projects when I could, and now that the kids are a bit older, I’m finding it more natural to increase my workload.

    Starting to freelance is like bungee jumping—it’s scary, but you know you’re tied to something, so hope for the best! Exhilaration aside, you need to be practical. It’s sensible to know that you have a ‘bread-and-butter’ client or two who will flick work your way (thanks, old employer!). And if you share your finances with a partner, you need to know that they’re in a position to shoulder your financial responsibilities should your work contracts be on the lean side. Once you’ve got the basics covered, you can learn as you go, and slowly grow your business. I’ve found that if you just keep chugging away, gradually you’ll start to gather more momentum.

    Some useful advice I’ve received along the way has been to stay calm and make time for everything, even if you feel like a job is consuming you. Be organised with your admin and allocate some time for your marketing, or seeking future work—how much depends on how busy you want to be and how many existing clients you have. It’s worthwhile to do some kinds of work for free, to help build your portfolio and feed your creativity. And you never know what other opportunities might come from it. Gather testimonials as you go and connect with your collaborators and clients through social media sites. And finally… once you’ve made the decision to go freelance, back yourself! If you know that you can provide a valuable, high-quality service, be prepared to summarise that when an opportunity arises.”

    Show up, show up, show up, and after a while, the work shows up, too.

    Madeleine Dore, freelance writer and editor, Extraordinary Routines

    “Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.” – Isabel Allende

    “In the beginning of building a career as freelance writer, I think it’s important to put your hand up for as many things as possible. Find an internship that will sharpen your skills, build your portfolio and give you a valuable contact in the industry who can vouch for your writing. Ask friends if you can help write content for their website, short bios, or press releases.  Pitch features to your favourite publications and volunteer to write the first one for free if the editor is not familiar with your work. Start a blog or writing project to showcase your writing. Make your name known. Show up, show up, show up, and after a while, the work shows up, too.”

    Take naps often.

    Lara Stephenson, creative director, The Grazing Elk

    “Something I have learned through being a freelancer and now owning my own business would be: take frequent naps. If you’re tired or frustrated – just check out. Have a nap, watch a movie, read a book, go do something nice for yourself, have fun… and come back to your project, your business, or your work when you are feeling better, inspired and uplifted from the good things you have just done.

    It is only recently I have heard this from other people, but I have found it is one of the easiest and nicest ways to feel good again, get inspiration (my website idea came to me in a dream), and you feeling good, confident and loved is the first step of everything. Being a freelancer, you have this freedom to take time out, have a nap and do something fun.

    You will return to whatever you were doing before on a completely new level and fresh inspiration.”

    Stay busy.

    Jodi English, freelance graphic designer

    “Recently, I’ve been constantly coming back to some advice from Andrew Denton at the recent Semi Permanent conference in Sydney: “Be busy. Be Hungry. Be silent. Be bold. Be prepared to fail. And persevere.”

    Over time I’ve come to realise it’s so much more important to stay busy, not only on commercial work, but personal projects. This allows you the freedom to explore different mediums, different ideas, learn different skills and gives you a platform to continually experiment. Whilst freelancing offers you a degree of freedom, you are responsible with your time and it’s important to stay organised, be proactive and explore new and exciting opportunities that keep you motivated.

    For me, being hungry is having a constant curiosity, not only about design but about travel, people, food, ideas and the world around us. I believe we can gain inspiration from the most unexpected places so it’s important to always be a sponge!

    I find it so easy to constantly be thinking about your current projects, next week’s plans or getting caught up in your Facebook timeline or Instagram feed. Recently, I’ve been making a conscious effort to just sit down, relax and enjoy some quiet time away from my phone/computer and read my latest books and magazines. Surprisingly, some of your best ideas actually come when you don’t intend!

    I believe being bold is about being confident in your own abilities, believing in yourself and having the willingness to put yourself out there. At times, I think we all struggle with this and often compare ourselves to others. It’s important to believe in your work, embrace your individual style as a freelancer and remember the real value of your work. Be open to meeting new people, getting involved in your local community and collaborating with other creatives.

    More than anything else, work hard, stay humble, hopeful, patient and never give up! Oh and make sure you keep money aside for tax!”

    Lizzie Stafford is a freelance writer and editor and owns and runs Künstler, an independent magazine and bookstore based in Winn Lane, Brisbane. She is the Brisbane events coordinator for CWC.

    Posted by: Lizzie Stafford
    Categories: my advice, regular columns | Comments Off
    Posted on

    Creative collaborations: Natalia Hayllar and Lisa Madigan

    By Christina Atherton


    The power of collaboration is becoming more evident as creatives around Australia team up to produce unique and sometimes one off events and experiences. Joining forces with a fellow creative provides endless possibilities as well as a platform for bringing together ideas and utilising each one another’s skills.

    Today we chat to two Sydney creatives, blogger Natalie Hayllar of eat, read, love and artist Lisa Madigan about their recent collaborations and why two heads are better than one…

    What are your creative backgrounds?

    Lisa: I’ve been working as a professional artist for over a decade but there are many more strings to my bow. Styling, floristry, food, entertaining, events, travel and interiors are all passions of mine andare a natural complement to working as a fine artist. I’m a beauty seeker, an atmosphere creator, an experience cultivator, with the eye, hand and heart of an artist.

    We all know that as a creative, you need to be able to adapt whilst staying true to who you are and your own unique story. I think we’re both very much about enhancing the experience of the good things in life and celebrating the things we love.

    Natalie: I have no formal creative training. I always wanted to do graphic design but ended up studying Psychology and a Masters of Science in Nutrition at University. I went on to become a dietician and later studied marketing. A corporate communications and marketing career followed but Ihave always preferred the more creative aspects of marketing.

    After I had my first son, I bought myself a digital camera and taught myself photography, at the same time starting my eat read love blog. Initially this was a creative outlet just for me, a stress reliever and a place for me and my friends to connect on simple pleasures. But then the inspiration I found online and the subsequent connections with wonderful creative people opened my eyes to a whole new world and Icontinued blogging and taking photos. For me it’s great to have found ‘my tribe’ and to connect with people that have shared passions. Social media and attending creative courses has definitely helped build those lovely connections.

    How did you meet?

    Lisa: A couple of years ago I had a store and gallery in Berry which Natalie discovered thanks to her love of the South Coast. A few regular visits and great chats later, it was my delight to work on the branding of Natalie’s blog eat read love and watch it blossom. We struck up a friendship and the rest, as they say, is history.

    Natalie: I spend a lot of time on the NSW South Coast and stumbled upon some of Lisa’s work in a South Coast magazine. After popping into her gallery and store in Berry to say hi I just knew Lisa would be the right person to help me design my branding. Many champagnes and ‘anchor’ coffees later, a great friendship has formed.


    How did your collaboration on the eat read love pop up dinner series and Kinfolk events come about?

    Natalie: I wanted to try something new for eat read loveso started a series of intimate pop up dinners in Sydney last year. I asked Lisa to be my special guest artist and help me style the first pop up event. It was so much fun and we worked really well together as a team so I asked Lisa to co-host the launch of The Kinfolk Table cookbook with me late last year. The long table lunch in the country at Lisa’s cottage worked really well, so when I was asked to be the Kinfolk Sydney representative, Lisa was one of the first people I called. I realise my creative and styling limits so it’s always great to bring in the experts and let people do what they do best rather than trying to do it all yourself. Lisa has done an amazing job with all of the event styling and the Kinfolk L’esprit de la Mer event in Lisa’s home town was really special for both of us.


    What roles do you each play in these collaborations?

    Lisa: My role is the creative eye, the environment shaper, the stylist, the florist, the designer and occasional co-host.It’s my delight to conceptualise, create and set the perfect scene. I make gorgeous early morning market trips and spend hours bundling up blooms. I create floor plans and source props, I work on little details and special touches, I design and produce printed materials then whip it all into beautiful shape for the event. For me, putting together aesthetic cohesion is so much more than just making things look good, it’s about making things feel good and threading a story throughout the experiences we’re creating, seamlessly and it’s my role to make them shine.

    We both wear a lot of hats, such is the nature of collaborating, there’s fluidity and an enjoyment and flexibility in each of our skill sets.We both do whatever we need to do to ensure the magic happens.

    Natalie: As a host I bring together the team of people, partners and sponsors, promotion of the events, managing the invitees and venue requirements, working to just make it happen and ensure everyone is having fun along the way. I am used to working on deadlines and just do what is needed to get it done. While I always have a vision for how I want the event to look, I realise my styling limitations and therefore trust Lisa wholeheartedly to work her magic with the table settings, flowers and design elements. We work really well as a team and it helps that we have a similar aesthetic. Regardless, Lisa will always surprise me with an amazing element of the styling that I just go wow, I would never have thought of that but it looks fabulous!

    It’s now time to startplanning for our tropical pop up in Bali in August and the next Kinfolk event in October. I can’t wait to do something completely different again in a new location and with a new theme.


    What’s the best thing about collaborating with each other?

    Lisa: Trust, friendship, synergy and fun! We each know that we’re both passionate about creating beautiful and memorable occasions in every way and trust each other completely to do what has to get done, there’s a great synergy in the way we both work.

    We both spend a lot of time in preparation and that process is always an exciting one where we both bring our ideas and prowess to the table, we’re both quite detail oriented and organised, so there’s an enjoyable ease to it all, we’re also lucky to have one another to sound board off.When it comes to pulling it all together, everything flows so well, there’s great respect for what we each do and we love what we do!

    Natalie: Ditto. It is always great to have a sounding board and bounce ideas off each other too. I remember the night before the most recent Kinfolk dinner in Avalon neither of us had had much sleep the week prior: we were both exhausted and were ready to make it all happen. We just sat peacefully in a little wine bar and said ‘ok, let’s do this, we will sleep tomorrow!’ On the day we’re often just buzzing with adrenaline as its go, go, go but to sit and enjoy a meal once it’s all set up, and to see the end result in the photographs and video footage is always exciting.

    What future collaborations do you have planned?

    Lisa: I think we’re both still swooning from our last Kinfolk dinner, but there’s absolutely more to come! We’re excited to be heading to the beautiful Villa Sungaiin Bali this August for another eat read love pop up so stay tuned for the visual feast that is to come on that front. I’ve just had an exhibition in Adelaide collaborating with Poet’s Ode and while I don’t want to give too many secrets away there’ll also be something exciting happening at my Kangaroo Valley cottage later in the year too.Always new and exciting things on the horizon so stay tuned!

    Natalie: After many years attempting to juggle my career, motherhood and eat read love as well as all of the Kinfolk and pop up dinner events I realised I am no longer able to do it all and still sleep. So I have just taken the plunge and started a yearlong ‘career break’ so I now have time to focus on following my creative heart. I hope to sign up to some more courses, travel a lot more and learn some new photography skills along the way. I am also going to be writing a lot more for some new and exciting publications and planning an extra special milestone birthday to NYC. The eat read love pop up dinner series will continue this year with our first international pop up dinner in Bali in August. Who knows, it could be a Paris pop up next…!


    On a quest to live a more creative life, Christina Atherton loves any type of crafty projects and has tried everything from watercolours and flower arranging to paper craft and calligraphy. She has an unhealthy obsession with Instagram and when not working in PR for one of Australia’s leading tourism organisations, spends her time as a mama, wannabe photographer and magazine junkie.

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    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: creative collaborations, interview | Comments Off