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Pretty in print: why Freelancer Magazine’s not just another aspirational business publication

As we spend increasing amounts of time in front of a screen, and more and more titles move online.

But Freelancer Magazine (a new publication edited by Sophie Cross) has attracted hundreds of subscribers keen to get their hands on a printed copy. Laura Wells caught up with Sophie to find out all about it.

What gave you the idea for Freelancer Magazine?

I’ve been a part of freelance communities, especially via Twitter (and #ContentClubUK) for a few years now, but I was spending a lot more time with them during the pandemic. I found myself really listening to other freelancers’ problems, not just the ones that resonated with me and I really enjoyed helping people with those problems.

This initially gave me the idea to launch online marketing courses for freelancers. The magazine came about when I was trying to think of an interesting way to create more helpful content for the freelance market and it suddenly occurred to me that there wasn’t a print mag out there. I thought that one would be well received. 

What were the gaps you identified that Freelancer Magazine would fill?

It struck me that there were enough freelancers to deserve a magazine dedicated just for them and that other business mags can feel unrealistically aspirational. I wanted to create something that felt inspirational but very real. And I thought there was a gap for something printed.

Getting something exciting through the post that takes people away from their screens for a bit but is still a great way to make connections in the freelance community.  

What was the very first thing you did when you decided you were going to make a magazine? (Pop the kettle on, put pen to paper, or pick up the phone?)

There’s no time to put the kettle on when there are URLs to buy! After the URL was bought, I phoned designer Angela Lyons (who I’d worked with before on magazines for clients) and asked her if she would design it for me and, thankfully, she said yes.

A day or 2 later, I told Ed Goodman about my idea on the Freelance Heroes podcast and as soon as we stopped recording I thought ‘I better build a website for this now’ so I knocked one up in Squarespace that afternoon and started writing ideas for features. 

Which came first, the contributors or the Kickstarter campaign?

I knew I wanted to launch via Kickstarter from the very beginning. One of the first people I asked to be interviewed for the mag was DJ Dom C.

When he said yes, he became the first cover star with his wife and DJing partner in crime, Mary Rose, and on top of that, they said they’d host a Kickstarter launch party. At this point, I knew we were all systems go. 

We know (now) that it got funded in record time – just two weeks into a 5-week campaign! But how confident were you that it would get funded when you first launched?

I ummed and ahhed a lot about the amount to set it at. It felt really high but I also knew I had to cover the print and design costs for the first 4 issues and that I had to set quite an ambitious target to know people really wanted the mag – to validate a product/market fit.

Honestly, I always felt confident that the community would get behind it and that we would get to the target amount, but I had no idea that it would get this much support. It’s ongoing and it’s still blowing my mind every day. 

What are your top tips for Kickstarter success?

Being confident about it is key. You need to ooze confidence if you want other people to get on board.

Instead of asking people to back the campaign, I would celebrate everything. And I mean everything, from our very first Kickstarter page follower. You can’t thank people enough for their support.

On top of being as positive as possible, my tips would be to tell people as much as you can about the product in advance and get them involved, move as quickly as you can to keep the momentum high, make a great video (thank you, Rexton Films) and have a banging launch and closing party.

Also, Ed Callow getting us a HUGE shout-out on Lauren Laverne’s BBC Radio 6 show certainly didn’t hurt our campaign.  

Did you learn anything new about freelancers as you put the first issue together?

Loads! It’s so fascinating finding out more details about how people work, the challenges they face and how they overcome them.

It’s especially interesting because the majority of us work in isolation. But so much resonates too. It feels amazing to have a vehicle to share knowledge between us all. 

What does “a freelance life less ordinary” look like?

A freelance life less ordinary is one of sharing stories, building confidence and knowledge, creating your own things, being ambitious, inspiring others and growing a business you love.

How could ProCopywriters members benefit from Freelancer Magazine?

Our readership is mainly creative and B2B freelancers, including lots of copywriters, and that’s reflected in who we feature, although we’re also conscious of getting a diverse range of freelancers.

Sometimes you can learn more from people that are from different industries, age groups, backgrounds, experience levels and locations, so that’s very important to us too. 

Our first 4 issues are themed Creativity, Community, Discovery and Starting Something and we have regular features, so if you have an idea for being featured, please send me an email editor@freelancermagazine.co.uk.

  • freelancer magazizne issue 1

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