I want to create a FRIENDLY, PRODUCTIVE and USEFUL community just for creative freelancers in Adelaide. Here’s why.
More and more friends and acquaintances of mine around Adelaide have taken, or are about to take that great leap of faith (madness?) into the world of creative freelancing. The attractions of being your own boss are obvious, but so are the pitfalls. We’ve all had those terrifying thoughts – what if it doesn’t work? How will I pay the bills? Will I really be able to turn my passion into a healthy business?
Despite what the naysayers might have you believe (‘The economy is crap, no one is spending!’, ‘There aren’t any opportunities in Adelaide!’) I strongly believe that NOW is a great time to be a freelance creative and HERE is a great place to do it.
Consider the following:
1) THE ECONOMY
I’m not a business analyst. I can’t really tell you if the doom and gloom headlines are true or not. I’ll leave that to the experts. What I do know is that for most creative freelancers, this doesn’t matter much. Our business models are lean and efficient – our fortunes don’t necessarily rise and fall according to the markets. We don’t need to employ other full timers, we don’t need a dedicated ‘prestige’ office in the city, we won’t simply be axed one day because our department needs to make cutbacks. WE are in control of our fortunes. If we are CLEAR about what our unique services are, PRO-ACTIVE about getting work and ADAPTABLE in the way we work then there is no reason why we cant make a decent living.
If one of my clients goes bust, obviously it would affect me in the short term. But I have other clients. And I can go and get more. After a setback, freelancers get up, dust themselves off and adjust to the changing landscape. Big businesses find it much harder to do that. To say nothing of a fulltimer who wakes up on Monday and finds that their job doesn’t exist anymore.
When you see pessimistic headlines about the economic health of our state, consider that being a creative freelancer is a pretty good option. Im not saying it’s easy. But if you’re constantly refining your PRODUCT (whether it’s your skills as a photographer, designer, filmmaker or web developer), making it VALUABLE (not the same as CHEAP) and finding innovative ways to GET, KEEP and COMMUNICATE with clients, then there’s no reason why you can’t succeed.
Will people suddenly stop needing photographs? Videos? Websites? Brochures and business cards? Take a look around. EVERYONE needs our work!
It’s unlikely to make us millions, but we’re not in it for that anyway. The problem is, too many of us are led to believe we won’t even survive.
If we’re prepared to do the hard yards (GO and GET work, don’t WAIT for it), then we can swim away from the tide of negative financial projections and create lean, profitable businesses that let us create things we love every day.
I came to Adelaide just over four years ago and pretty quickly saw how keen some locals are to talk it down. ‘BACKWATER – NO OPPORTUNITIES – GO INTERSTATE – insert your own negative throwaway comment here‘. We’ve all heard the sorts of things people say.
I don’t buy it.
Sure, there will always be centres of activities which attract talent – Sydney, London, New York – whatever. But that doesn’t mean those are the only places where we can flourish. We just have to be a little bit more creative about how we get to that point.
My hometown is London. I worked for several years there as a freelance video editor/music producer. There is an sophisticated and developed ecosystem for people who work in post production. Specialist agencies that ring you up to do a week editing on a project. Thriving websites full of jobs. You get out of the chair at the end of the shift, and another editor sits in your place. It’s a production line. And it’s pretty comfortable. If you’re good, you’ll always have work.
It didn’t take long to realise Adelaide was a vastly different landscape. I couldn’t work in the way I used to – those systems just weren’t in place, that kind of production didn’t exist here. So I taught myself to use video cameras, invested in some equipment, built a website and started to tout myself as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for video production. I used my documentary experience to offer bespoke, story-driven videos for clients and turned my focus to the internet as the place where my work would be seen. I don’t say any of this to blow my own trumpet. I’m not unique in this regard – lots of people have seen how the web has changed everything for us creatives. But the point is, THERE IS NO ONE PERFECT SCENARIO IN WHICH TO WORK.
You have to adapt. Every business has to do this at some point.
I love Adelaide, and I want to stay here. I also love making videos. So I built my work life around those two requirements.
If someone feels they truly can’t get the work they want in Adelaide, then good luck to them. The world is big – there’s no need to stay somewhere that isn’t perfect for you. I wouldn’t dare to blame them or disagree.
But to say that working successfully as a creative freelancer is impossible in Adelaide is not true.
In the grand scheme of things, Adelaide is small. But this is a good thing.
If you’re a freelance creative who does GREAT WORK and is GREAT TO WORK WITH, then word gets around.
If you’ve got ideas for how your services could benefit a specific business, you can GET IN TOUCH with them quickly and easily. Chances are your aunty knows someone there anyway.
In a city like ours, NETWORKING and WORD OF MOUTH are incredibly powerful. And those two things are the freelancer’s best friends.
People are HUNGRY FOR FRESH IDEAS. Adelaide is buzzing at the moment. There is a tangible sense of optimism of what we can become.
Creative freelancers can thrive in these conditions. We just have to be prepared to CREATE OPPORTUNITY and not expect it to be handed to us.
Im optimistic about the possibilities in Adelaide. But I know not everyone is. Freelancing can be a long lonely road, with many unknowns. How to turn a passion into a business, how to get paid properly, marketing, tax, super, and so on. Which leads me on to my main point..
CREATIVE FREELANCERS OF ADELAIDE – UNITE!
I’m a big believer in sharing. Sharing ideas, sharing knowledge – it’s how we all get better at what we do. Much of what I’ve learned has been via the internet. Both in terms of how to produce good stuff, but also how to run a good business. Wonderful as the internet is, there’s nothing quite like talking face to face. This can be hard for freelancers. Most people we know are in full time work, and so can’t necessarily relate to our specific challenges. We don’t have ‘workmates’ as such, people to unwind with at the end of the week
I want to create an environment where people can talk, share and learn about freelancing in Adelaide. An INFORMAL but PRODUCTIVE community where we can network, bounce ideas around and support each other.
Nothing frustrates me more than seeing people who are great at what they do struggling to make ends meet. I believe a cohesive, friendly community of people willing to share and support one another can bring us the results which we all want. Namely, TO GET MORE WORK DOING WHAT WE LOVE.
I want to learn from others. To hear their ideas, to see what works and what doesn’t, and to understand why. I want to share our goals, and work together to achieve them. It’s not about competing. It’s about providing a communal sounding board and a platform to improve. I believe in the value of talking to people who operate in different disciplines – photographers can learn from designers, filmmakers from web guys, and so on.
To say nothing of the epic shit which is bound to happen when creative people get in a room together.
Let’s start, like many good things to, with a regular drinks meetup.
This is Day One. The first step in an experiment. Like all experiments it could fail.
But if you’re a creative freelancer then you’ve already taken a gamble. Most good things in life are a gamble.
I believe we can create something that is not only fun and interesting, but USEFUL.
Join the group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/618453264842646/
What have you got to lose?