For the first time in my life, I actually rehearsed a speech. Ironically, my three-hour workshop yesterday required all of 5 minutes preparation time on the train in the morning (in my defense, I given similar workshop/classes before), but my 5-minute open stage speech had me preparing and rehearsing for at least three hours. My friend Sarah probably got sick of hearing it over and over again last night as she timed me.
It went well. Thanks again to all [who voted to see me speak on stage](http://www.liftconference.com/going-solo-being-freelancer-connected-world), and for your kind and encouraging comments after my speech.
You could probably see I was a bit stressed — quite a bit more than when I usually [speak](http://stephanie-booth.com/en/speaking/): you can’t really make any mistakes when you only have 5 minutes. It’s there, it’s gone.
I left a bit out, I’m afraid. Blame it on stress. The part I left out is about how important this “business” aspect of freelancing is — because it’s actually what’s going to determine how successful you’ll be as a freelancer. You can be the best at what you do, if you don’t know how to set your rates or find clients, you’ll starve.
So, here’s the text I wrote last night and I based my preparation upon. It isn’t a word-by-word transcript of what I said (I didn’t learn it by heart!), but it’s pretty close. Enjoy the insight into how I prepared this speech!
If I find videos and links later on, I’ll add them to the end of this post.
> I’m going to tell you a tale of inspiration, of a personal journey which led me to do things I never would have thought possible, like organising an event for freelancers from all over Europe — which I’ll tell you more about at the end of this speech. It’s not just my journey, it’s the journey of all those who have turned a passion into a living.
> Are there any freelancers or small business owners in the room? Keep those hands up. Any ex-freelancers? Aspiring freelancers, or people who’ve thought about the idea? This is about you.
> Two years ago I was sitting in this same hall. I was a middle school teacher, and I dreamed of being able to make a living out of my passion, the web — but I couldn’t see how. After LIFT in 2006, something clicked, and I saw how it could be possible. A few months later at the end of the school year, I quit my job as a teacher to be a full-time freelancer.
> It was easy at first. The phone kept ringing, and people actually wanted to pay me for stuff that didn’t feel like work. My biggest challenge was that I felt bad because I had the impression I was on holiday all the time.
> After a few weeks or months though, things became more complicated and less fun. I was charging too little, how should I set my rates? I was drowning in paperwork, I hired an accountant. I was contacted by clients I didn’t expect, like Intel who wanted to fly me all the way to the US, or a rather prominent local politician. I realised I wasn’t good at negociating and closing deals.
> Luckily I had friends in the business. I asked for their advice, and realised they had faced or were still facing the same issues. They were willing to share. I found support and learned useful things:
> – how to set a daily rate, for example. Decide how much you want to make in a month. Divide that by the number of days you have available for paid work — 10 maximum, maybe — you have your daily rate.
– I also learnt to stop being uncomfortable about how much I was charging for talks — people were paying for my expertise, not for my time
> I started learning that there is way more to freelancing than just doing the things you’re being paid for. There is a whole business aspect to freelancing which is not what draws people to become soloists — they go solo because they’re good at doing something and can get paid for it — but this business stuff is actually really important, because it’s going to determine how successful you are as a freelancer.
> When I decided to organize events, it was pretty obvious that the first one would be for freelancers. That’s Going Solo — it’s going to take place on May 16th, in Lausanne, just 30 minutes away from here by train.
> Going Solo is an occasion to gather freelancers from all over the web industry, from all over Europe and even elsewhere, and take a day off “working” to think about these business issues in depth. Seasoned freelancers like Stowe Boyd, Suw Charman, Martin Roell — and also Laura Fitton of Pistachio Consulting, which I’m announcing right now as my fourth confirmed speaker — will share their experience and dig into topics like setting your rates, negotiating and closing deals, finding clients, or better, helping clients find you, and even choosing how to work so that you actually have a work-life balance — something I’m personally struggling with these days.
> If you want to know more about Going Solo, come and talk to me or visit the website — [going-solo.net](http://going-solo.net), with a hyphen. If you have speakers to suggest, or partnerships to talk about, make yourself known. Otherwise, see you on the 16th of May!
– [interviewed by Robert Scoble on Qik](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2008/02/08/qik-interview-by-robert-scoble/)
– [interviewed by Nicholas Charbonnier on Tech Video Blog](http://techvideoblog.com/lift/stephanie-booth/)