This week we are exploring what it is like to work as a freelancer, prior to the events industry being effected so badly by coronavirus freelancing was an attractive route to go down. I caught up with another one of my fellow Fast Forward 15 mentees Megan who took the leap into freelancing last year. How did she do it? How did she get her first clients? How has everything change now? Megan shares her story below!
Name: Megan Anstee
Company: MA Endeavours
Job Role: Freelance Events Manager & Director at MA Endeavours
How long have you been in your role? I have been freelance for 4 months, with over 10 years experience in events.
What is your dream event to work on? Dream job would be producing events aimed at empowering women. Maybe the first Girl Boss rally in London!
What was your journey into the events industry?
Total happy accident! I trained as an actor, and as many auditioning actors, I worked in a couple of restaurants running events. I soon realised I enjoyed the day job far more than the supposed dream job and took the plunge into the events world.
I’ve worked in the hospitality sector and in modern and historic venues. Then I moved agency side, where events have ranged from a large scale film festival to learning seminars. Now, working for my own company, I’ve been really lucky to work with such a broad range of clients on such interesting projects.
What made you decide to become a freelancer & how did you go about making the transition?
It has always been my ambition and end goal to have my own events business. I want to be able to create truly unique events experiences and, for me, the freelance work style allows you to work on such an exciting variety of projects. Of course, there were some lifestyle decisions that came into play too, for example wanting to spend more time with Bolt, my dog (my version of a baby).
I had to be really focused to strike the balance between security, maintaining great business relationships and branching out into the freedom I craved. Being prepared, having a business case and honesty helped in every negotiation. And then just taking the leap!
How did you secure your first clients?
All through existing relationships! People who I had previously worked with, who knew I would continue to do great work with them. I’m also a mentee on the Fast Forward 15 programme. Through that I have met some of the most incredibly supportive people in the industry who jumped at the chance to support my new venture. As such, I secured a few gigs through people there too!
What do you think are the most important skills you need to work freelance?
Such a cliché – but multi-tasking. You are your own events management team, business development, marketing, HR, finance etc etc. You’re wearing all the hats!
One thing I always have to remind myself is that if it needs to get done, I’ll make sure it gets done. So just get stuck in.
What’s your favourite and least favourite thing about being freelance?
Favourite is the flexibility, both professionally and personally. Professionally, I’m able to work on the best variety of different projects, with such exciting clients, really bringing my experience and individualism. Personally, I can manage my schedule better. I’m happy to be working from early and finish late, but it means I can walk Bolt in the afternoon sun.
Least favourite is never being 100% sure what the next job will be. But I think there’s a similar ‘imposter syndrome’ style fear in any job and it just drives me more to make real connections!
What advice would you give anyone thinking about going freelance?
Line up some work before you take the leap.
The dreaded word…Covid19…our industry is suffering due to corona virus. How are you managing right now?
I’ve lost projects in the immediate sense, though hopefully not long term and hopefully I haven’t lost clients.
When speaking to clients, I have found the only way is to be completely open and honest. We are all in this situation together, it’s not the time to play games. I’m looking to support in whatever way I can to keep things moving, whether that’s postponing, going digital or maintaining and developing partner relationships.
It’s also led to a new project. Last week, MA Endeavours launched Events @ Home! It does what it says on the tin, bringing really exciting events concepts into people’s homes. We’ve done a murder mystery party, wine & cheese tasting and even a baby shower! You can check it out on our website now. It’s been such a creative, fun initiative to work on.
What are you most looking forward to when the events industry is back to ’normal’?
A big old party!! Throwing them, attending them. Seeing brands and organisations come to life again by doing what is so important - bringing people together!
Do you think event industry & events themselves will change?
Yes, I do. I think it’s going to be a slow return to the ‘olden days’ and I don’t think any of us can 100% predict what it’s going to look like. We can just do our best in the meantime!
You can follow Megan on social media