As part of National Freelancers Day’s expansion in 2018, Faye Dicker – founder of networking group Freelance Mum – held a fringe event in Bristol. Faye’s ‘mini festival vibe’ wasn’t the end of her celebrations that day though…
How did you first come to be involved with National Freelancers Day?
Early last year IPSE contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in hosting a fringe event for National Freelancers Day, and instantly, it was extremely exciting. They explained that it was going to be the first year they would host a fringe event of this scale and that I could make it as big or little as I wanted. For me, it instantly had a massive appeal for lots of different reasons.
One of the things I have always wanted to do through my networking group, Freelance Mum, is have a kind of mini festival. I have always wanted to create an event where everyone could come together and celebrate being freelance – and bring their kids and families and friends along too. So, I thought doing it on NFD was a great excuse to make that happen. I wanted to host a massive event where people from beyond Bristol could come and join in this big celebration of everything freelance. It was a great opportunity to combine an idea I’d had a long time ago and put it on National Freelancers Day so that it was part of a much bigger occasion.
© Super Funky Penguin Photography
So, tell us a little bit about your freelance NFD festival?
Our ‘mini festival vibe’ – as I like to call it – was at Windmill Hill City Farm in Bristol. It’s already a thoroughfare for mums and children to visit anyway, so was a particularly good choice of venue especially because it’s already part of an existing community.
There was so much going on. We encouraged small businesses in the local area to come and take a stall for the day. We also had a ‘netwalk’, where people could walk and network but in a more relaxed way. We opened it up so that anyone who was on the farm anyway could come along and netwalk. Although the day was still a paid-for, ticketed event, when it came to the netwalk it was available to all. It was a really nice opportunity for people to come along and find out about NFD and Freelance Mum.
We had a networking session in the morning and afternoon. Because it fell on the same day that England played in the World Cup, we did a panel session about how to build your team for success. We had an awesome ice breaker where we mapped out – on a football pitch – whether you thought you were an attacking or defensive freelancer. If you were attacking you were someone who goes out and gets business, and if you were defensive you were someone who builds and nurtures a business.
We also got the business choir to come and sing, which was amazing. The business choir is one of the lovely success stories that has come from Freelance Mum. Someone in our network who is a vocal coach recognised the need for people to network in different ways and so she recently formed the business choir. I asked her how she felt about the choir doing their very first performance on National Freelancers Day and she was absolutely over the moon. It was really lovely and actually quite tear-jerking. The whole event was amazing!
© Super Funky Penguin Photography
What is the makeup of your Freelance Mum network? Who could we expect to meet at your NFD fringe event?
Obviously, because of our name, we do tend to attract mums. However, dads are more than welcome too though. Our typical demographic is 30 to 40-year-olds and, even though we have a tendency to attract creatives, we have a broad group which includes mortgage advisers, IFAs, accountants, graphic designers, web designers, vocal coaches, nutritionists, workshop facilitators; there’s a huge range in Freelance Mum.
For freelancers, how important are groups like Freelance Mum and events like NFD?
I think they’re hugely important for freelancers, not just to come to Freelance Mum, but know that it’s part of a much wider network and that we are part of IPSE and the National Freelancers Day community. Together, we are part of a much bigger picture and we can achieve great things as freelancers.
So, coming together on NFD to celebrate that success is enormous. You can’t underestimate or attach a price to the feeling you get when freelancers come together and celebrate being freelance –
Someone who came to our National Freelancers Day event said that, since becoming freelance, she had made a promise to herself to never work on her birthday. This year her birthday fell on National Freelancers Day, but she said, even though it technically falls within a work remit, she just had to come to join in the celebrations. To me, that just shows just how important it is for us all to come together.
© Nisha Haq Photography
At the end of NFD, we hosted the annual Freelancer of the Year Awards where we crown the best freelancers, ambassadors and university programmes in the UK. You were crowned IPSE’s Ambassador of the Year for all the amazing work you do as Freelance Mum. Tell us a little about that…
Oh wow; it was the most amazing feeling ever! It was totally and utterly amazing. I couldn’t quite believe that I’d run the run the fringe event, rushed over to London and won an award. It was the cherry on the icing on the cake.
It was kind of like your wedding day. We’d put on the fringe event in Bristol, and the only way we could get to London was if we actually left our own event early. It was like leaving all your guests on your wedding day to go off on your honeymoon. We had to get on this packed train to London, but when we got there, it was so lovely to meet all of the other nominees. We’d gone the previous year, but hadn’t won anything, but that was completely ok. That meant this time we recognised a few faces and we also got to meet people who we’d spoken with on social media and that was a real buzz. It was so nice to be able to start putting faces to names.
We got ushered into the hall and it’s then that you realise just how exciting an occasion it is. The trepidation is quite something. The comedian Lucy Porter was brilliant – she really set the tone. When they read my name out, I thought I was going to fall over! The rush of adrenaline as she announced my name was unbelievable. My phone just went off, it really was social media overload – the next day I just couldn’t keep up with it. It was the complete standout day of my life!
What would you say to someone considering attending NFD?
Go and be part of this massive celebration. Go and see other freelancers. Go and connect. It just gives you that shot in the arm that you need as a freelancer. When you’re working in isolation on your own, to feel like you’re part of this bigger community; that’s what this is about. Be part of it – you definitely won’t regret it.
Freelance Mum will once again be hosting a festival event for National Freelancers Day on Thursday 20 June. Learn more and book tickets.