Here's why I started #AFreelancersLife: To highlight different freelancers every month from all sorts of backgrounds and pick their brains about what they do and how they do it. Check out all previous featured freelancers right here. If you would like to be featured just drop me a line and let me know! Today's post features Therese who's picture you may also find when you look up "jill of all trades" in the dictionary. This one is working on so many incredibly awesome projects it's making my head spin just thinking about it - so I'm extra thankful for her taking the time to tell as more about her work & life.
How long have you been a freelancer and what exactly is it that you do?
I have been an on- & off-freelancer for 10 years now; I started to freelance again in December 2015. I do a lot of different things, so it is quite hard to find the right term to describe which kind of work I do. I mostly focus on digital and social media strategy - besides that I work as a director for a TV show. Most of my time however I invest in Sorority, an Austrian Women’s Network that focuses on the labor market. This year, Sorority is once again going to host the Business Riot Festival, a three-day conference targeting various issues women are confronted with in their professional lives. I am responsible for the program, sponsoring, communications and the budget. Together with my friend and partner Katharina Brandl we dedicate most of our creative capacity to the festival, while still trying to build our own business with our newly founded agency “kathe” which offers diversity services. Last but not least, I’m a DJ and currently playing with my friend Martina every other week in Viennese Clubs.
How does your typical work day look like, if there is one at all?
There is absolutely no typical work day for me ;) Normally I sit down on Sunday and start structuring my week, and depending on scheduled meetings and shooting time for the TV show I divide my days into different segments which are all dedicated to a specific project or job. Sometimes I get up really early and work for several hours without a break – at home or at a coffee place – and don’t answer any calls or mails to really focus on a paper, a text or a concept. Sometimes I meet Katharina at our shared office, where we normally update each other on current partnerships and projects. Other times I sleep in and only manage my communications, as I have a lot of emails, a lot of texts, as well as a lot of Facebook and Whatsapp messages. And sometimes I have days full of meetings and really can’t get anything done at all ;) The only constant right now is the way I approach my workload: I am very organized when it comes to deciding what job has to be done at what point of time.
What does your freelancing work entail regarding activities and duties?
Normally I sit in front of my MacBook, trying to finish a concept. So my main activity is actually writing, and while it is not a creative kind of writing I feel like I get lost the most in that kind of work. Also I feel I really communicate a lot, which is part of the organizing process for Sorority events. This also means that I have to be responsive most of the time, which is sometimes really hard. As I said before I really get a lot of messages during the day and I always try to answer to everything; sometimes this feels a little bit stressful, sometimes I enjoy it. I should actually get up early every day simply because people I work with and for tend to wake up rather early, but I tend to work late nights and sleep a little longer ;) When it comes to DJing, I check new music almost every other day, because for us it is really important to not only increase or skill-set, but also prepare for every gig in terms of new sounds and tracks. So I am on Soundcloud quite a lot! In terms of duties, having meetings and going to events is a very important aspect of my work.
What has been your biggest highlight so far as a freelancer?
My greatest project so far has been the Business Riot Festival. We managed to organize it within 5 months, with no festival background whatsoever – but the feedback was just amazing. For me personally, I believe that in terms of online and social media strategy and brand development this is the best thing I have ever done.
How does your previous education and experience tie in with your current freelancer work – was it necessary and if so, what exactly did you do?
So, this is a really good question! My CV is actually completely all over the place: I have a diploma in political science and a post-graduate from IHS and I almost completed my PhD. During my studies I always worked a lot, at the university, as a chief editor at www.stadtbekannt.at, as editor for woman.at, Die Presse, science.orf, as director for different image films an TV series, as political advisor in the parliament and even as web developer. So I always have the feeling nothing in my life makes any sense in terms of a “stringent career strategy”, but I have a vast skillset, I can handle complex assignments, I am actually really good at being a team leader and I know a lot of people. So in the end, everything I ever did helps me out with my current projects.
Do you sometimes have motivational lows, and if so, what do you do to get out of your low?
Of course! It is really hard to realize your own projects with no funding whatsoever, so I have to work a lot just to cross-finance my own agenda. I decided to quit a very well paid job in order to still be able to manage the Sorority and the Business Riot Festival, which has definitely been the right decision. However, as my schedule is so busy and money is short most of the time sometimes I of course get frustrated sometimes - I believe this is just part of being a freelancer. I try not to be too dramatic when I feel like everything is too much, just stay in bed or do yoga or go for a bike tour. I love the things I do, and I want to be passionate about them, and so when I feel like something negative is building up I just try to give myself enough space and time to deal with those feelings. And turn off my phone ;)
What do you love about being a freelancer? What do you hate?
I think I have always been a pretty bad employee ;) I need to have my own schedule, I want to work when I feel like it, and I get annoyed pretty fast if I get ordered around a lot. So you might say for me it has always been clear that I want to be my own boss. When I work for an agency or company as a freelancer I like that we can then set specific goals and deadlines, but the work is actually done on my own terms as they are mostly interested in the product, not in the process. As every other freelancer I of course do not like the administrative part, I don’t like waiting for money, I hate that it is hard to figure out at what point a vacation might be possible and that I can’t buy as much fancy stuff as – like I said before – with trying to build something you just have to give up some things. But still, completely worth it!
How do you structure your day: When are you taking breaks, when are you working, when are doing which tasks in particular?
There is actually no typical structure for me. As mentioned before, the way I approach work differs every day. Checking mails might be the first thing I do, but can also be the last thing I do before going to bed - sometimes I am responsive the whole day, sometimes only for a certain time span. I do yoga three times a week and I never skip it, so these are the times where I take a break. Also I eat a lot, so there is no skipping breakfast, lunch or dinner for me, like, ever.
Which are your favorite 3 websites or apps you’re using on a regular basis regarding your freelance work?
As a DJ of course SoundCloud, as it is the best source of inspiration for me. In terms of web design I absolutely love Elmastudio as they do amazing Wordpress themes that are highly adaptable and completely fit my aesthetics. Also I highly rely on social media, both in terms of self branding and execution of my projects, so I really spend a lot of time on Facebook and Instagram. My self organization is however very analogue, as is my creative process most of the time.
Tell us about an exciting project you have worked on which made you proud.
Sorority and the Business Riot Festival are by far the projects I am most proud of. When we had this idea almost 8 years ago, we could have never imagined that we actually would have an impact on so many women who are connected in their belief that it might be possible some day that men and women are treated equally. I love that Sorority members – we have almost 300 of them by now – are highly motivated, realize their own projects within our organization and have a lot of great ideas. I am a full-time feminist, and I am extremely impressed and inspired by the skills and dedication of these women. And when I am really tired because I hade to carry equipment for Sorority events for hours and think that I really can’t enjoy our event I am always positive again within minutes when the first women arrive, because they are awesome and this is a really, really great feeling.
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