Steve Folland talks NFD, exciting milestones and the importance of parking your shyness

November 15, 2018

Ahead of National Freelancers Day 2019 IPSE caught up with Steve Folland, a freelance video/audio producer and host of the Being Freelance podcast. In 2016, Steve was a finalist in IPSE’s Freelancer of the Year Awards and in 2018 he hosted two NFD sessions. Here he talks about NFD’s evolution, exciting milestones and the importance of parking your shyness.



How did you first become involved in National Freelancers Day?


I was a finalist in the Freelancer of the Year Awards in 2016. That was my first discovery of IPSE and National Freelancers Day itself. And in 2018 I came back as a speaker, where I hosted two sessions.  


How have you seen the event grow over the years?


It has evolved significantly since I was first involved in 2016. Back then it was just an afternoon. There were a few seminars and things, but it was much smaller. This year, I remember distinctly coming down the escalator in Kings Place and seeing a huge lobby full of people. I was expecting the much smaller event I’d see a few years ago!


With no disrespect to what I remembered in 2016, it seems like a huge conference now. We went in to a large theatre for the opening and it struck me then just how big it had become. But having said that, it still felt like there were so many smaller, intimate rooms where you could go for presentations and get the opportunity to talk to people in the same way you could in years before. It has become a much bigger deal now though.


Can you tell us a little bit about the people you’ve met, and the things you’ve learnt at NFD?


I’ve met so many people through the event. For example, in 2016 I met Emmeline Pidgen, who was crowned Freelancer of the Year. I was sitting next to her when she won the award, and since then we have stayed in touch and I got to see her again at NFD in 2018 at the Freelancer Showcase.


I also met Zoe East, a videographer who was another finalist in 2016. We got chatting at the event, got on really well and since then we have worked together on client projects. It’s been awesome staying in touch with not only them, but also people I have met at IPSE. I remember speaking to Lydia Wakefield (IPSE’s Deputy Head of Education and Training) and talking about how frustrating it was that universities didn’t teach being freelance. I know that’s been something she’s been pursuing a lot and it’s been great seeing the difference she’s been making.



How valuable an event is it for freelancers?


It’s an absolute bargain! In terms of conferences there’s such a wealth of different things you can learn, irrelevant of what is of interest to you. But as of any conference, you realise it’s those bits in between where you get to talk to people which is so valuable, especially when you are a freelancer who may work alone. Not only are you meeting people, but you’re chatting about this thing that you all have in common. That’s been really great for me.


What did you do in your 2018 sessions?


In 2018, I did my Being Freelance podcast live in front of an audience. And I also did a session about how freelancers can use video to boost their business. Both sessions were so enjoyable. This year, in 2019, I’ve been asked to do a session about podcasts. There are lots of freelancers who appear on my podcast, who run their own podcast, because it’s a great way to build a community of like-minded people, or to show your knowledge and grow your network to potential clients. So, I’m really looking forward to sharing ideas and answering questions people have on that topic.


This year – 2018 – was IPSE’s 10th National Freelancers Day. You’ve recently celebrated a milestone of your own with the 150th episode of the Being Freelance podcast. Tell us about your podcast…


The idea is to hear from other freelancers and their experience of being freelance. It doesn’t matter what job they do, it’s more about how they find their first clients, how they juggle work/life balance, how they manage their finances and all the other things that we come up against as freelancers. No matter where I speak to people in the world, and whether they’ve been freelancing for 1 year or 20 years, there’s this real common ground. It’s really nice for people to know they’re not alone and that so many other people are going through it. Every single week I learn something new and hear from people who have been inspired before going freelance. 150 episodes…that’s a huge number of stories to share!



What would you say to someone who is considering coming to NFD in 2019?


Do it! I’ll say it again, it’s an absolute bargain for what you get. Not just for all of the talks, but the chance to meet other freelancers in real life. Make sure you park your shyness and just go up to people and introduce yourself. If you just break through and go up to somebody, the whole of the day will be different. I’m quite bad at that, but I know that when I make that effort there’s so much you can get out of the day. It’s an incredible venue and there’s just so much chance to learn and share with other people. It’s a really great day.


Check out Being Freelance 

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