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Would anyone be able to help with some career counselling/bracing advice about how I remake my freelance life?

(15 Posts)
vonsudenfed Tue 09-Jun-09 14:07:39

Because I don't know what to do with myself, and I could really do with some fresh thoughts (resists urge to use wanky out of box blue sky phrases).

I've been a freelancer for ages - all my working life in fact - but the very easy tv, long contract for just one employer at a time kind of freelance. But tv production is not only almost impossible to combine with children (at least for me), it's also all going to hell in a handcart in terms of budget and sensationalism. I've spent the last year doing programme development - i.e. writing up new programme ideas for pitching to tv companies - but the company I was working for has run out of money.

So, here I am. I'd like to work a couple of days a week, not more than that for a few years. I'm good at writing, at communications in general, and also very good at organising large scale things and managing people/budgets (having been in charge of several big series in my other pre child life).

I'd rather work at home - or at least am prepared to work for less money than tv if I can work from home. I ought to be able to do something interesting and reasonably paid, but right now my mind is a blank.

So if anyone does have any ideas, thoughts or suggestions, they'd be much appreciated!

thumbwitch Wed 10-Jun-09 00:28:16

thought I'd answer this one as well, since I'm trawling through Unanswered Messages just now grin and saw your response on t'other one.

You sound from your post as though you want to do something similar to what you are already doing. If that is the case then I doubt I can help much, as it is outside my experience. But - if you are prepared to do a complete change, then there are all sorts of things you can do.

A few years ago I would have suggested you consider wedding planning, but I think that is a fairly congested market now as there are even courses in doing it shock.

Can you start up your own company? Or is that unfeasible, budget-wise? As an events organiser, maybe; again, that market might be a bit saturated now.

Alternatively, try something completely new - take a course in something you've always been interested in but never had the time, see what avenues it opens up for you.

Good luck with it - I know my major career change was the making of me but it was very scary doing it!

FlorenceAndtheWashingMachine Wed 10-Jun-09 17:30:21

Could you look into teaching on a media/broadcasting course? Good hourly rates, no mad shifts and your industry experience an enormous plus.

I have been looking into a journalism MA recently and my local university shouts about its links with industry insiders from the rooftops.

vonsudenfed Wed 10-Jun-09 20:42:01

Florence - yes, thankyou, that's a good thought. I've wondered about it in the past, but it ought to go on the list. As also events organising, Thumbwitch. That was a big part of my previous job, and it's one of the bits I liked.

Of course, what I'd really like to do is sit at home and write novels, but I am fairly realistic about how little this might contribute to the household budget...

semi Wed 10-Jun-09 22:52:52

what about writing for kids? do you feel you need to be around other 'creatives' or are you happy to work from home?

overthemill Thu 11-Jun-09 08:31:50


try setting up/joining a company that produces corporate stuff, eg training dvds. some seem to me to be very good and john cleese seems to make a good living doing it! sounds dull but think channel 4 type stuff for charitable and corporae sector. i know one company that i have worked with to produce something for social care and they were fab.. also, maybe one of those theatre type training companies?

make a list of skils you have and how they could transfer

think about where you want to get to in 5 years/10 years and what steps you need to take to get there

idranktheteaatwork Thu 11-Jun-09 08:39:01

Why don't you set up as a V.A (virtual P.A).
You could then set the hours etc as you wish.

I have a friend who does this, she built up from nothing and now the kids are at school it's a great earner for her. She has built up a good network now as well so she sub-contracts out work if she needs to.
Duties she does are things like appointment booking, general admin tasks, some PR work, organising hotels etc for conferences.
She sees her clients face to face about 2 or 3 times a year but speaks to them daily. At present she has about 12 different companies on her books, some she does work for frequently, others she only works for a few times each year.

She loves it because as long as the work is done she doesn't have set hours. So she still does the school run etc. She only requires childcare very occasionally so her husband/family help out then.

wingandprayer Thu 11-Jun-09 08:47:43

virtual assistant really good option I think if you like variation and you got a wide skill base. I too know a working mum who made big success of it too. It's appealing idea to industry at the moment who keen to reduce costs and permanent head count. You need to look at what skills you don't have now but might be asked for and see if you can recruit others on freelance basis to provide them. Then you can make margin on their work without having to lift finger - bonus!

hatwoman Thu 11-Jun-09 13:06:05

von - a friend of mine was in your shoes a few years ago - fed up of the insecurity of 3-4 month contracts and the long hours when at the final stages of making a program. the line she took doesn;t fit your ideas - but it's interesting, I think, in that it shows you can make a big change. she got a one-year barely-paid internship at a big international development agency - and has been there ever since. she sold herself using her communication and organisational skills.

you might want to think about the non-profit sector - many of the big names have their own, generally pretty small, av production units. they also have press offices and various other communication-based functions. I'm desperately trying to remember the name of a London-based organisation that supports tv-makers and journalists abroad that might be of interest - if I think of it I'll post it.the non-profit sector do tend to be quite good on part-time and working from home.

digitalgirl Thu 11-Jun-09 13:28:11


You could do a course and then use your contacts to get yourself some work on the shows where they're always trying out new writers like Hollyoaks and Doctors.

overthemill Thu 11-Jun-09 14:03:14

hatwoman, how did your friend who did this afford it? I admire her for the huge leap of faith she made, well done her!

and to those who posted about VA - how did they advertise their services and get first contracts - i'm always interested in this

hatwoman Thu 11-Jun-09 14:12:37

she has no family and doesn't own a house. iirc the internship paid about £11k. in London. I guess it was a bit like being a student again for a year.

vonsudenfed Thu 11-Jun-09 14:21:09

This is all good - thankyou very much!

hatwoman - if you do find the name of that organisation (the rest home for clapped-out producers) I'd love to know. What your friend did sounds excellent although having moved out of London, my options are a bit more limited. I was thinking about doing something similar, in that I have a big thing about local food, and would love to do publicity for some of the local producers, but have no experience. I was wondering about offering to work for them for free for six months, just to get some experience and results under my belt.

wingand/Idrankthetea - what (roughly) would you expect to get as an hourly rate as a V.A.?

Sadly, scriptwriting won't work as I don't watch tv drama, and script doctoring for documentaries is thin on the ground. Also writing for kids I don't think I could do.

I do like talking to people, but am quite happy to work on my own as long as I get a bit of feedback on what I am doing. DH works from home too, so I wouldn't go too mad.

wingandprayer Thu 11-Jun-09 23:03:39

The VA I know charge £20 hour as starting rate

idranktheteaatwork Wed 17-Jun-09 16:32:59

Same as Wing - roughly £20 - £30 per hr dependent on client and type of work.

There are forums where you can make contacts and other than that you can do direct marketing, so pick on say 50 firms and target them for small pieces of work first. Business can then grow through word of mouth etc.

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