How I Went Freelance: Damien Clarkson, Social Chic
(This is the fifth in a series of interviews with freelancers, telling us their stories on how they went freelance. The aim is to help others who are thinking of becoming freelance learn more about what it takes, as well as get advice and inspiration so they can get the confidence and understanding to find out if freelancing is right for them. If you want to take part in the series, simply head here to tell us your freelance story.)
Name: Damien Clarkson
Freelance Area: Digital campaigns, mainly for charities and environmental causes. Social media strategy, social media community management, blogger outreach and events, PR
Freelance Since: 18 months
Website: Social Chic
What made you decide to go freelance?
Originally after leaving the NSPCC where I was the Social Media Manager, I decided to take a month off before looking for my next challenge. During this time I helped create campaigns for the environmental group Climate Rush, including the Waitrose #DumpShell campaign.
I soon realised that I loved the flexibility of being freelance and the ability to choose exactly what I wanted to work on. I soon stopped looking for a new full time job and started receiving exciting offers to take on freelance work and never looked back really.
What steps did you put in place before you went freelance?
After a couple of months of freelancing a friend and I decided to set up digital agency called Social Chic. When setting up the agency we sought advice from a small business advisor at the British Library, who helped us on the legal structure of the business.
We very quickly set about creating our website, brand ID and received offers of work immediately. Tools we used in the early days were WordPress and Google Docs. Looking back I wish we had more resource/time to put into the creation of our website and brand. But we just felt it was important to use our time to deliver quality work.
How did it feel before you went freelance?
Exciting. I believe strongly in what we set out to achieve and feel proud that we have helped lots of organisations deliver great affordable digital communications.
How does it feel now you are freelance?
Every day throws up different challenges, sometimes you’re on top of the world and honestly sometimes it is tough. For me having great people around me to turn to for advice and having a studio space at Netil House in Hackney has helped in stopping the isolation some freelancers experience.
Going freelance means there is nowhere to hide. You will have successes and failures, but ultimately you decide what you say and what you do. That freedom is liberating.
What are the positives of freelance life?
Working when you feel most productive, for example when the sun is shining perhaps I will take an afternoon off and catch up with work in the evening. Being freelance has definitely led to me living a more active and outdoors lifestyle.
What are the negatives of freelance life?
Unstable income stream, lack of paid holiday, And constantly working on short term projects can be frustrating.
Any advice for others looking to go freelance?
Going freelance is rewarding but challenging. I think the biggest secret to making it a success is honestly holding your nerve. And you will probably surprise yourself with what you can achieve.
Thanks for taking part, Damien, and for sharing your tips and advice. Make sure to check out his website at socialchicagency.com or follow him on Twitter at @damienclarkson. If you want to take part in the series, simply head here to tell us your freelance story.