Creative Dundee

Blog: 10 Tips for Freelancers

In our blog feature, we invite different contributors to write about current issues, creative practice, Dundee and much more! You can read some of the archive blogs here. For this edition, Ed Broughton from Bonnie Brae Productions gives his 10-ish Tips for Freelancers – originally shared on an excellent episode of Creative Chit Chat Podcast!

Hallo, I’m Ed Broughton and I have been running a production company in Dundee for nearly a decade. Now, I’m not pretending to have learnt anything useful to you in that time or to be an expert in any way. However, I enjoy what I do and I haven’t starved to death and neither has my family, and I think I would have liked to have read this list when I was first starting out. Here are some tips for freelancers:

Isn’t this rule number one for life generally? Why would you be a dick anyway? Just don’t! Come on! Being a freelancer means providing a service, and if you’re serving up a side of dickishness, no one will want to order it, will they?

Hmmm, this one can be confusing. Now, I’m not suggesting that you kid on that you can do something that you blatantly can’t. However, if you’re confident enough you can do something that you haven’t done before in your field but don’t have a way of proving it to your client, then, by all means, go for it! Hire someone who can help you to do it, and learn from them. Then the skill is yours to keep forever.

If you’re not learning then, you’re stagnating like a puddle, slowly turning brown and evaporating as the world passes you by, not wanting to come into contact with you. Have I stretched this analogy far enough?

Stop saying “that’s not for me” and go to everything. Go to the theatre! The dance! The art shows! The foreign films! Especially in Dundee, where your choices are limited, you must just go to it all! You will gain something from every cultural experience there is! Open your eyes and open your heart! Loosen up, have some fun! Sleep when you feel like it, not when you think you should! Eat food that is bad for you – at least once in a while! Have conversations with people whose clothes are not the same as yours! Make love in a hammock! Life is the ultimate experience, and you have to live it to be creative!

Some of the best stuff in the world, you can get for free – cats, dogs, bicycles, children, books!  Get to know your local librarian and your local Freegle or gumtree.

Also, things you can do with your body are free too! Like running, walking on the beach or picking berries in the beautiful countryside that surrounds Dundee, swimming in the Tay, having sex, drawing, dancing around your living room with the free cat you got free from gumtree! All free!

Because these things are free, it means you don’t need a well-paid job. Which is just as well if you like – and are attached to – working in the arts.

If you can get your expenses down to the bare minimum, then you can work less and if you work less you have more time for creative projects. Capitalism is a trap. Accumulation of things won’t make you happy. If you don’t pay for a car each month, then you may have money to go to the theatre. If a free gumtree bike isn’t enough for where you live, you can get a car that’ll last you a year for a couple of hundred quid, easy! Then you can get to bits of the coast that are too far away to cycle to.

Don’t wait to be asked to do it. No one is going to ask you or fund it. Just create it! Folk will see your enthusiasm and want to join in and help you.

The creative community here will help you, they’re all really nice, it takes a short while to get to know them and they really are lovely. If you haven’t met them yet, drop Creative Dundee a line and they’ll point you in the right direction.

You won’t take better photos with that expensive lens you’ve been obsessing about online. People will always see the turkey before the trimmings. I have no idea if that metaphor works but who cares, eh? Just get stuck in and stop making excuses.

Writing is hands down the most accessible way to be creative. You just pick up a pen or a google doc and do it. See what comes out. It’s free and it will free you. Trust me.

If you’re efficient and clever, you can do a day’s work in three hours then go to the beach, or the library, or to the pub. So work smart and not hard, as you may be dead tomorrow. “Careers” don’t exist either, you’re either making good art or bad art (whatever the medium) and that’s that. As we’re moving towards a post-work society you won’t need a pension either, so please stop sweating the small stuff and enjoy your life.


Ed Broughton runs Bonnie Brae Productions in Dundee, but don’t waste your time looking at his website or twitter when you could be scouring Gumtree for a free hammock.



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