Being shortlisted Freelancer of the Year, by Mandy Barker
On Thursday, I was honoured to take my place in the final for the IPSE Freelancer of the Year Award 2017, taking place at Kings Place in London.
The finals followed on from a pitching day (blog here) where all shortlisted freelancers had to present their business and face a panel (a cross between Dragons Den and the Apprentice, however, a very lovely panel after we had a chance to chat further to them at the finals!). The finalists were split into two categories – Inspire, for over 23s (which I was part of) which included 10 finalists, and then Aspire, for under 23s which included 5 finalists.
Prior to the awards ceremony, we were invited to attend the freelance workshops. The day was dedicated to National Freelancer Day (yes, it’s a thing – get on it!). IPSE champion the self employment economy and organised talks and panel sessions, full of advice and knowledge on industry. In their manifesto, they believe the definition of self employment should consider:
- Autonomy in work
- Control over work arrangements
- Taking on business risk
- The level of independence
My favourite talk was by the inspiring Griselda Togobo of Forward Ladies an engaging and energetic talk about networking. My main takeaways were:
- Get your pitch right and be authentic
- Find your tribe (not everyone is a natural at networking)
- Be helpful and be human
- Follow up with people that you meet
After the workshops and some champagne networking, we went onto the awards ceremony, hosted by the hilariously brilliant Ellie Taylor. My highlight was Carl Camden, Chief Strategy Officer. He did an empowering speech about advocating the flexible economy, doing good in the world and how a ‘good job’ is NOT about the money. He said everything I believe in and it felt like we were part of a revolution! Certainly got everyone motivated. Check out one of his excellent videos here.
The Aspire awards were announced first, with talented photographer Nisha Haq taking the crown. Well deserved-a real story of hard work and passion – one prime example that if you’ve got that, you can make it work. Check out her excellent work!
The Inspire Category were up next, we all nervously made our way to the stage. I was proud to be stood alongside 9 very talented freelancers, who were also wonderful people. Each freelancer deserved to be on that stage and the shortlist skillset was so varied, from textile design, software, origami to consultancy. Everyone on that stage has a tenacious work ethic and passion for the industry, such awesome people to connect with.
The runners up were Mellisa Holloway, copywriter and healthcare consultant, and Chi Chi Eruchalu, empowering business coach.
The remaining finalists didn’t walk away empty handed, not only have we met a fantastic support network, we were given a years plus membership to IPSE, a years accountancy software and membership to a project management tool. Along with a shiny and beautifully designed trophy! The whole experience has been such a boost, self employment is merciless but when you are presented with opportunities such as this, it really is worth it.
I met some absolutely wonderful people, not only the other freelancers, but workers of IPSE too. It is such a supportive environment for industry and it was so reassuring meeting people going through the same successes and pains of self employment. You are not alone!
If you are questioning whether or not to take the leap into self employment, just remember there are organisations out there such as IPSE that are there to offer practical resources and support.
Thank you to Saliah Bryan and Jo Coates for being wonderful support throughout! The evening ended up with take away pizza and drinking Moet out of mugs on our hotel room floor. All in all, a pretty perfect day!