The First BRT Freelance Academy

October 17, 2019

This September we launched our Freelance Academy!

The five-session programme is open to all Edinburgh Napier students, staff, and alumni within two years of graduation, and offers a deep dive into the world of freelance. The programme aims to give participants the knowledge and skills required to become self-employed, but also the opportunity to consider whether freelancing is right for them, no matter their area of expertise. You can find out more about our Freelance Academy here.

The last session for this trimester ended on Friday, but don’t worry, you haven’t missed out. We will be running the programme once a trimester, so keep an eye out for details for our next Freelance Academy that will run early next year.

For now, here’s a quick snapshot of what was covered throughout the programme.

Session One: Knowing your Niche

We recognise that not everyone knows what they are good at, and that not everyone has necessarily thought about freelancing as an option. The fact is that self-employment is on the rise with 15% of the working population in the UK classified as self-employed, and over 33 million individual freelancers registered across the European Union. This is why, in our first session, Business Adviser, Pete McLean, facilitated a number of group exercises aimed to help participants pinpoint their niche. By exploring personal values, skills, interests, and experiences, the future freelancers were able to create a mind map that helped them understand themselves that little bit better. By the end of the session everyone had a better idea of what they might pursue if they decide to go freelance.

Session Two: Sales and Marketing

Sales is an integral part of any business activity, hence why we had Business Adviser, Victoria Bradley, deliver our second session. Learning how to pitch your service is of paramount importance when you are out and about trying to get clients to work with you. No one has the time to listen to a 15-minute explanation about your expert SEO skills… That is why all participants had to write down their 30-second pitch and then read it out to the rest of the group. It is a daunting experience at first, but remember; the more you practice, the better you get.

Session Three: Project Management

We all love working in teams, don’t we? What about when we work alone? Reality is that in either case we must spend a significant amount of time planning out our steps. As Dwight Eisenhower once said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

Our very own Nick Fannin, Head of Bright Red Triangle, took the participants through a project management exercise, where groups were asked to develop a Gantt chart, allocating tasks within their teams and presenting back to the room.

Session Four: Finance and Legal

All the fun stuff, as we call it. This is the session that raised most questions:

How to register as self-employed?

Is accounting software worth it?

The importance of claiming business expenses, and more!

Business Adviser, Pete McLean, did a brilliant job of making finance fun. The session covered most things from levels of tax brackets on income, to what you can and cannot (or should not) claim as a business expense.

Session Five: Next Steps and Panel Discussion

The beginning of this session was led by our Business Engagement and Communications Manager, Cilla Richards, and was all about what comes next. Cilla went through the process of how to apply to become a BRT Freelance Fellow, which was followed by an informal panel discussion, chaired by Nick Fannin. The panel of speakers included: Alex Porter-Smith from High Tide Media, Loraine Ross who is a Wedding Photography Freelancer, and Cilla Richards from BRT who also has a freelancing side hustle of undertaking digital marketing and copywriting for businesses. The panel answered questions ranging from ‘Is freelancing worth it?’, ‘How do you deal with set-backs?’, to ‘How do you find clients?’ and ‘How do you choose other freelancers to work with?’. The session was accompanied by drinks and pizza for everyone, which was great to get people discussing the real facts of freelancing in an informal and social setting.

What’s next?

Participants of our Freelance Academy currently have the opportunity to apply to become a BRT Freelance Fellow. This will give them the opportunity to be profiled on our website, endorsed by BRT as quality freelancers, and actively promoted to businesses throughout Edinburgh. Keep your eyes peeled for our first cohort of Freelance Fellows, and if you or your business is in need of an extra hand with a project or some specialist expertise, you know where to come!

Bright Red Triangle