As my seventh year working for myself draws to a close, I’m reflecting on another year that’s whizzed past – January 2019 seems like a lifetime ago…
This year’s been another one of variety, with work for 15 clients:
- I’ve undertaken marketing consultancy for organisations including Jane Austen’s House Museum, the Museum of Cambridge and the Norris Museum
- I’ve delivered research and evaluation projects for clients such as the Museum of London, the Second Air Division Memorial Library and De Havilland Aircraft Museum
- I’ve run training and facilitated workshops for organisations including Stratford Circus Arts Centre, China Exchange and SHARE Museums East.
It’s been a huge privilege to play a part in many interesting projects and work with so many passionate, knowledgeable and motivated clients.
As ever, it’s been also been great to work with other freelancers and consultants such as:
- graphic designer Nina Brown on several projects
- photographer David Kirkham for the Museum of Cambridge
- fundraising and evaluation consultant Miranda Ellis for the Association for Suffolk Museums
- the Architrave Historical Services team for the Norfolk Archaeological Trust
- and Marge Ainsley on Museum Freelance.
Ups and downs
I’ve really enjoyed doing more marketing, branding and vision work this year, from facilitating organisational brand and personality workshops and content marketing planning workshops; to running training sessions and developing an online training module for staff and volunteers; to full-blown marketing strategies.
Some standout high points have been a client’s lightbulb moment in a tone of voice workshop; a group of trustees being open to change and navigating difficult decisions; and feedback from other freelancers about the difference that the Museum Freelance Network is making to their work and well-being.
Some not-so-high points have been chasing late payments, disingenuous procurement processes, being on the receiving end of mansplaining and a fair few train delays.
Working with Marge Ainsley on developing the Museum Freelance Network, we took our third annual conference to Manchester, ran three sold-out training courses for people thinking about or starting out as freelancers and have grown the community to over 900 people.
The freelance communities are an endless source of inspiration, support and advice; aside from Museum Freelance there are some fab cross-sector ones including Being Freelance, Doing it for the Kids and Freelance Heroes – you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.
I’ve also enjoyed speaking at events about freelancing, including the MuseumNext and Museums Association conferences, and as part of a panel for the Visitor Studies Group.
I’ve started taking emails and social media off my phone some weekends and holidays which has been long overdue and a revelation. I’m generally keeping up with my daily step count target and weekly runs, which I’ll need to up next year as I’ve signed up to my first half marathon, eek!
From January I’m joining a co-working space on an ad hoc basis at St George’s Works in Norwich. I’m looking forward to meeting others there and being back based in Norwich city centre.
I’m working on identifying the type of work I do that as Esme Ward said at our Museum Freelance conference “makes my heart beat faster”. And I’m working with career and life coach Simon Seligman, a valuable and challenging experience which is already having a transformative impact on my thinking and my work.
Thank you to all of my clients, suppliers, freelance colleagues and communities – wishing you all a Merry Christmas.
I’ll be downing tools and having a digital detox over the festive break, the easiest time to do it as everyone and everything goes quiet then as well. That way I can start the new year feeling recharged and raring to go. As ever I have ambitious plans for the coming year, but this year am framing it in terms of what is sustainable and feasible for that elusive work/life balance…
I’m excited for what 2020 will bring and am off to start making some more plans for it!