By Christopher Evans
As I stepped off the train and made the admittedly very short walk to the Maldron Hotel, a flurry of thoughts were popping in and out of my head. I was nervous, perhaps unjustly so for a thirty-one year old man, about the impending How to be a Freelance course that I was on my way to attend.
I needn’t have worried, as on arrival (ten minutes early – I felt like the mature student that used to vex me so much at university) the course leader, David, gave me a warm welcome and some tension-easing small talk. Nerves quashed, my thoughts turned to the day ahead, wondering whether I would leave elated or deflated.
Learning from others with more experience
As a relative newcomer to freelancing, being surrounded by people who have worked in journalism for years and who seemed confident and gutsy, I decided to take a backseat and see what I could learn from them.
Predictably, it was a lot. The day flew by, my notebook filled up (mature student again) and by the time the course had wrapped up my brain was overflowing with information. David was an excellent trainer, his laid-back approach creating a relaxing atmosphere amongst an eclectic group of part-time, full-time and wannabe freelancers.
A large chunk of the day focused on the business side of freelancing, and although this was useful information, I was hoping there would be more of a focus on generating ideas, pitching to the dreaded abyss and creating reliable contacts. I have since pestered Anna about this and although there is no imminent course planned locally, I intend to book on the course that runs in London in May.
Working full-time as an advisory teacher and having an 8-month-old son, freelancing in what little spare time I have is something that brings me much enjoyment. So does my son, obviously, but that’s by the by, isn’t it? However, it doesn’t bring me enough money to pack in education just yet.
“Find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”
When I was a media student, for some strange reason my younger self took the alternative route into teaching, something that makes me want to go back in time and give that bone-idle whippersnapper a good slapping. But as the cliché goes, it’s never too late. That really has become my mantra, as although some people are willing to slog away in a joyless job, I am a great believer that if you “find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I never thought I would ever quote Confucius – although don’t expect me on University Challenge any time soon.
The kindness of strangers
Since the course I have had more success with being published, brought on from a gradual rise in confidence. I must also say thanks to Rebecca Lees, who blogs on here and has my desired job as a full-time freelancer. I emailed Rebecca after reading her blog and seeing her wandering around Wales with Derek the weatherman (on TV, I didn’t just bump in to them).
I quizzed her and moaned to her and didn’t really expect a reply. I was wrong, and I am finding out more and more as I trudge on with this freelance malarkey that people are actually overly nice and helpful. It seems that although we don’t all work together in an office, there is a real camaraderie amongst us.
Whether I will ever be able to do this full-time and earn enough to support my family and pay my mortgage, time (and recessions) will tell. But what I have learnt is not to give up and continue to write, interview, pitch and network – oh, and most importantly, enjoy every moment.
Chris is a freelance journalist who writes about football, education, food and drink and music. His website can be found at www.christopherevanswales.com and you can follow him on twitter at @JervisEvans
NUJ Training Wales is planning on running a Pitch and Deal course for freelancers in late Spring.