Tag Archives: freelance

23 Jul

First month in Brighton

 

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It’s been a month since I moved to Brighton from Birmingham.

I know the city well, having gone to the University of Sussex back in the mid-90s. However, I’ve never had a ‘proper’ job here, so I was keen to jump into the creative / freelance world as soon as possible.

1 ring - fresh pot of coffee, 2 rings - free cake or cookies, 3 rings - event, 4 rings - drinks, 5 rings. If someone is using a phone in The Mess? Endless rings until their phone call ends.

Bell ringing guide at The Skiff, a co-working space in Brighton.

Co-working space

Joining the Skiff was a great decision. It’s know for being one of the cooler and more social co-working spaces (and also one of the more expensive) but it’s been well worth it.

I pay £99 + VAT per month to use the space 2.5 days a week, although they seem fairly laid back about how you use those. It’s all self-managed, so it’s up to each member not to use it more than their membership level allows.

I’ve also met some great people through their fortnightly Friday beers. Free booze and a chance to meet other Skiff members from 5pm has meant a couple of boozy nights out and getting to know my office mates.

 

Chamber of Commerce

I purposely did not get involved with the Chamber of Commerce in Birmingham. Having interviewed various organisers in the past I felt it was aimed at “men in suits” and the more traditional business world. However, my pre-move research into the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce branch showed they were embracing the creative vibe of the city and doing some relevant and interesting events.

Within a week I’d attended the “new members” event, where I found out that anyone can host a bitesize learning session. I’m definitely considering hosting an infographics workshop in the future. I”m also in conversations with the Chamber organisers to help visualise their most recent survey results.

 

Change in Attitude

I don’t know if it’s the weather, the proximity to the beach or the general Brighton vibe, but I’m a LOT more chilled out here. I’m still getting things done, and staying on top of work, but I’ve lost that feeling that I have to work every minute of the day. I’m still working early mornings, but I’m far less likely to work into the evening. Instead we’re doing things – like walks on the beach, swimming at a lido in Lewes and Pokemon hunting!

 

Creative Vibe

Presuming Ed coffee shop - frontage with face of Bob Dobbs


Coffee shop – Presuming Ed, Brighton

Don’t get me wrong – Birmingham is a GREAT city. However, anyone who’s visited Brighton will know it’s an incredibly vibrant, creative and inspiring place. From the art shops on the beach (like Castor and Pollux), the alt coffee shops like Presuming Ed and the bohemian and vintage shops in the North Laine I’m finding inspiration on every corner.

I’m already noticing a change in the colour choices in my work, as I go for more wider palette but with more muted tones. I’ll be interested to see if this sunnier climate will affect my work long term.

 

 

 

15 Apr

Is Agile design the answer to ‘free pitching”?

For several years I’ve been testing and trying different pricing structures for my freelance design work. However, one area I’ve been looking to explore is agile pricing.
The problems I’m hoping to solve are:
– new clients asking for ideas as part of a ‘pitch process’
– scope creep kicking in and pushing the project over budget, with no clear grounds for me to increase the price
– addition of new items
– blurring between the various stages so unclear when I can resort to my “I charge more for changes in this stage” caveat

What is Agile?

If a project is agile, it is broken down into “sprints”, each of which has a defined and tangible deliverable, in my case, a wireframe, image or report. With a tangible outcome, we can also attach a pre-agreed price to that ‘chunk’ of work.
Each section is priced up during the sprint before it – to allow for changes in scope.

The Positives

– setting a price for each ‘sprint’ (including initial consultation) will mean I am paid for any work I do, even if the client takes it no further.
– currently my initial suggestions are made with a single pre-defined outcome based on quote price, this allows for more flexibility as we (the client and I) explore the project.
– it is an easy entry point for clients not 100% sure about working with me
– we can easily discuss and price-up changes that arise during each sprint
– if it’s not working for either party and the project does not reach completion, I still get paid for the work done – often not possible to quantify with a flat rate job with one outcome

The Negatives

– it is an unusual approach for design work and might confuse / deter clients
– charging for ‘ideas’ may put some clients off from the outset
– as with hourly – clients may be unwilling to enter into a project with an unknown final price. The solution here may be to offer an estimate or even a Max price.
What are your thoughts? Do you, as a designer, use this method?
13 Apr

Relocating as a freelancer

 

I’m about to relocate 3 hours across the country from Birmingham to Brighton. To my American readers that may not seem very far (I know people who’ve moved from New York to LA), but it’s still a big deal to me. I’ve been talking about moving for about 3 years and I’m not going to lie – the main reason it’s taken me so long to actually do it, is my business.

 

I’ve been extremely lucky to have worked with some great people in and around Birmingham. It’s a big city strong communities in the digital, arts, heritage and local authority fields. I’ve done interesting projects and had great feedback, and so word has spread and I now have clients all over the country.
However, this hasn’t stopped the concerns.

– Will my current clients keep me on, once I’ve moved?
– Will my current cheerleaders (my network in Birmingham) continue to spread the word about me?
– How easy will it be to meet new people, and potential clients, in Brighton?
– Will my freelance business take a hit after I’ve moved?

 

Here’s my advice:

Keep people informed
Current clients – Back in December I emailed my largest clients and let them know I’d be moving. Word was starting to get out and I wanted to assure them that I would continue to be available for future work. Several of them messaged back, wishing me luck and saying they’d continue to book me in the future.

New clients – Since deciding to move I’ve had several new Birmingham-based clients come on board. I’ve been up-front with them about the relocation and assured them that I’ll still be available (apart from on my move day!)

Via my website / social media – I’ve kept more public discussions of my move under wraps until a little closer to me leaving. I was concerned that it may put people off contacting me about new work.

 

Find a co-working space
Joining a co-working space will be a great way to meet new people, both socially and for work purposes. Brighton has several to choose from but I’ve settled with The Skiff, which seems to have a laid back vibe and a digital/tech-heavy membership. It also means I get membership to the Wired Sussex network, which means more people and access to jobs and projects forums.  I’m planning to visit the The Skiff 2.5 days a week, and will work from home for the rest of the time. Hopefully with a cat.

 

Find other communities
I’ve used meetups.com to find relevant groups in Brighton, and joined them. I”m not even there yet and my diary is full of things to get along to, when I land. These are a mix of work-related and personal interest groups.

 

I’ve also volunteered myself to help revive Brighton Hacks and Hackers which should be a lot of fun and great way to meet people.

 

Lurk like crazy
Social media has been great and tapping into the Brighton scene from a distance, although it was been more successful for my social life than my work life, at the moment. I’ve:
– set up a Brighton Instagram account  – no posts yet but following a lot of bars, pubs, cafes, magazines + venues.
– made a Twitter list of creative and digital organisations and people across the city

 

Save up
I’ve had a good couple of years and have managed to save some money in my business account, so I can pay myself and keep my things running for 5/6 months. Hopefully it won’t come to that but it means I won’t have to take any old job that comes along and I can actually spend some time enjoying my new life in Brighton.

 

 

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All content (c) Caroline Beavon 2020