Sophie Cross, Freelancer Magazine
Freelance marketer and writer Sophie Cross came up with the idea of a quarterly business and lifestyle mag for freelancers at the beginning of 2021. She launched Freelancer Magazine via a Kickstarter campaign in February, and this week issue one lands on doormats.
Alongside the magazine, Sophie runs Thoughtfully.co.uk, offering online support and schooling for freelancers. She shares her week ahead and the origins of her magazine.
It’s Monday morning – what’s your routine?
My husband, dog, and I moved back to London after six years in Exmoor in February 2020. Just in time for you know what. We rented for a year and then moved back into our flat in south east London two months ago.
My morning routine almost always involves lighting some incense, a dog walk, making a large pot of espresso and calling my best friend, not necessarily in that order. I’m pretty bad at routines and structured work times, and I’m yet to discover if it would help me to get better at them or if I should just roll with it (clearly, the latter option has been winning for a long time).
Since going freelance eight years ago, I’ve worked from home so I’m used to that, but I’m adapting to life back in London, where it’s not been as easy to tear myself away from the laptop.
Describe your desk and your workspace
We completely renovated our flat before moving into it, and I now work at the dining table in our lovely open plan lounge/kitchen.
But it’s the first time in a long time I’ve not had a dedicated office space, so I’m just trying to work out how to manage that. This might involve working from a coworking space, but first, I need to try putting all my work stuff away and out of sight at the end of the day.
Are you feeling optimistic about 2021?
Tough one! It can’t get much worse... can it? I’m a pretty positive person, but things have got hard. Throwing myself into work has started to come back and bite me in the arse, and I’m seeing lots of people say similar things. There’s a lot of fatigue and burnout going on right now.
I’m thinking carefully about prioritising happiness and health for the rest of 2021. I know my businesses and creativity will be all the better for it too.
It’s brilliant that things are starting to open again, but I’m cautious about getting my hopes up that we’ll be totally back to normal soon with no more hiccups. And it’s very sad to see countries around the world going into states of emergency.
Globally, we’re a long way off this being over, but I think we need to do what we can to enjoy life as much as we can under the circumstances. The sunshine always helps.
Which magazine do you first remember?
The first magazine I remember was the kids’ showbiz mag, Fast Forward. It was a colourful collage of pictures, fun facts and all the latest goss on the likes of Take That, Sonya, the cast of Neighbours, Phillip Schofield and Gordon the Gopher.
Which magazine matters to you the most this morning?
The two magazines that I took the most inspiration from for Freelancer Magazine and that are always on my desk (dining table) are Courier and easyJet Traveller.
Their design and stories got me excited about print again. I love their mix of business versus lifestyle features, and I think it’s clever how easyJet and Mailchimp (who now own Courier) have created and used content like this. I wanted to make something similar but that felt totally relevant to freelancers.
Describe Freelancer Magazine in three words.
Not unrealistically aspirational.
Creative businesses have always relied on freelancers; why launch a magazine to support them in 2021?
Our primary focus is creative and B2B freelancers. We see the same questions and issues coming up again and again, and we think we can help by sharing knowledge, connecting people and having a bit of fun along the way.
We want to support freelancers in being bold and ambitious and debunk some myths around freelancing, particularly when more people are likely to be considering it as a career and more businesses are looking towards more flexible human resources.
The marketing for the magazine is resolutely upbeat; will you be addressing the tough parts to being freelance as well as the liberating parts?
It wouldn’t be freelance life without the rollercoaster, would it? And we’ll certainly be covering those challenges and sharing very real stories from lots of different freelancers.
But it is a very positive magazine. We’re championing the self-employed and focusing on ways to make their life and business better.
What’s the one thing somebody considering going freelance right now needs to know?
Don’t try and do it alone. Get yourself some support in whatever shape or form that takes for you. Join freelance communities, outsource some tasks, use coworking spaces, talk to other freelancers.
What tips do you have for anyone planning a Kickstarter campaign?
A wise man (Jeremy) told me that launching via Kickstarter would force me to make lots of decisions early about the business that you might not do otherwise (and he was right).
Think carefully about all your costs, fulfillment and give people as much info about the mag as possible. Be a part of the community you’re serving, get them excited about it and take them on the journey with you. Celebrate everything, from your very first page follower.
Be prepared to move very quickly to keep the momentum high, be confident and enjoy it. People will feel it if you enjoy it. They will feed off that energy and give it back to you.
I wanted to set the goal at an amount that I felt would validate a product/market fit and it’s amazing to have so many copies sold up front and the revenue in the bank. It wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
What’s going to be the highlight of this coming week for you?
Issue one launches this week, so about 500 copies should be pushed through letterboxes in the next few days. This is as exciting as it is unbelievable as it is terrifying, not least because I’ll be seeing the finished print version at the same time as everyone else.
It’ll be great to see how it’s received, get feedback and then we need to crack on with issue two and business plans for the magazine post-Kickstarter.
I took a few days off last week while the magazine was at the printers, so I’m feeling refreshed and ready to go again. I’m planning on making this post-sign off-break a regular rest-recuperate-celebrate thing.