Three years ago, I decided to leave the relative security of paid employment and set up as a freelancer.
I wasn’t even sure exactly what my business model would be, but what I did know was that I wanted something that was “mine”, where I could try – and often succeed, but sometimes fail – without having to answer to anyone but myself.
I’m also motivated by my values, which include being clear, honest, approachable and different. My background is in small business and non-profits, so I was really keen to work with organisations from these sectors, as well as with other freelancers.
I began creating websites using the Squarespace platform and in the first year, my clients were mainly based in London or overseas, so I worked from home most of the time. For a change of scenery, I also embraced the digital nomad lifestyle and set up with my laptop in coffee shops around Manchester. Despite being surrounded by a sea of people working on their laptops, I felt like there was something missing. I no longer had the conversation and support that I had previously enjoyed in an office environment alongside a team of colleagues. There wasn’t any interaction between my fellow coffee shop workers, although we were probably all facing similar challenges.
This was my inspiration to create a way for freelancers in and around Manchester to get together and actually talk, collaborate and share ideas. The moment that I entered Ziferblat, I knew that it was the perfect space, and Freelance Friday was born. Through our weekly coworking sessions and monthly socials, freelancers get to meet other like-minded professionals and work alongside them in a supportive and friendly environment.
It provides an informal networking and collaboration opportunity to anybody who is self-employed or works remotely so it’s a way to generate awareness of your own business and find people that can help you, all whilst keeping the work within the freelance community. Freelance Friday also allows people to experience the benefits of coworking without having to commit to a dedicated office space, so it’s perfect if you’re on a small budget or don’t always work from the same location.
From humble beginnings and several summer afternoons finding myself sitting alone in a corner, we have now grown to almost 600 members in our Meetup group and a wonderful community of attendees with a diverse range of occupations. We have graphic designers, personal coaches, video and media producers, copywriters, accountants, illustrators, IT experts and web designers to name but a few. Everyone is welcome and there’s always a friendly vibe with people that are happy to chat.
If you’re freelance and thinking of setting up your own website, but aren’t sure where to start, then I will be running a training workshop on 2nd November in Manchester on how to use Squarespace to create your own website.
Freelance Friday takes place every Friday afternoon between 2-5pm at Ziferblat, Edge Street in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. There is also an “after work drinks” social, normally on the last Friday of every month from 5pm.
Join the Meetup group to stay in the loop about all upcoming news and events.