What a difference a year makes. This time last year I was in the final stages of preparing for my book launch and planning a series of live talks, podcast interviews and signings around the UK.
Well, to be honest, it was more like what events can I set up close to home in Birmingham? What can I set up in London – that being a good excuse to catch up with old friends and colleagues? And then, who of my friends is in the farther flung parts of the UK that I don’t have a reason to visit that often and can arrange an event there too?
I was looking forward to the launch but knew the schedule would be gruelling – lots of travelling, quite often at antisocial times to catch a late train home so I could and sleep in my own bed and see the kids the next morning before school.
THEN COVID-19 STRUCK. LOCKDOWN HAPPENED AND THAT WHOLE PLAN WENT IN THE BIN.
Initially, I was distraught. How was I going to get my message out about The Freelance Bible without doing live events? And what on earth do I need a pop-up banner for now?
And then my world pivoted online. The events I thought cancelled were reinstated as online talks or webinars. And they went well. And that pop-up banner has become my signature back drop behind me on all my talks and webinars now. It’s had much more visibility in fact that I could have imagined it would!
It was about a month into the first lockdown that the lightbulbs started flashing above my head. I received an email from a tutor at Plymouth College of Art asking if I would be interested in delivering a virtual class for them about freelancing? I replied that I would be delighted, and a date and time was duly set. Much as Plymouth is a lovely place, it’s a very long way from Birmingham to go and do an hour’s talk – which also added to the costs of having me there. By doing the talk online, I could engage with the students at Plymouth College of Art in a way that worked for all of us.
And this started me thinking about the opportunity that was emerging not only for my freelance career but for all freelancers. Not only, could I talk to anyone, anywhere in the world but they were receptive to online talks, workshops and webinars in a way that just a couple of months before would have been an extremely hard sell.
As I started to consider my revised marketing plans and who my ideal clients might be. I realised geography was no longer a barrier to the clients I could work with. Lockdown had enabled a globalisation of opportunity.
SO, I STARTED REACHING OUT TO FREELANCE COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE GLOBE AS THEY WOULD BE LIKELY TO VALUE MY FLAVOUR OF SECRET SAUCE. SINCE APRIL I’VE HAD CONVERSATIONS, TALKS AND CLASSES WITH ORGANISATIONS AS FAR AWAY AS BELGIUM, GERMANY, AUSTRALIA AND NEW YORK. AND THIS WEEK I AM CHAIRING AN INTERNATIONAL VIRTUAL PANEL AT FOCUS 2020 ON SURVIVING AND THRIVING AS A FREELANCER.
Now, when I think about who my potential clients might be, local isn’t a high priority anymore. The world really is my freelance oyster. What this means is that the opportunity has just got much bigger, at the same time so has the potential for competition, as that is now global too. So when I’m looking for new clients I focus in on those who will most value my special flavour of secret sauce … it’s just all about sniffing them out.