National Freelancers Day 2017: IPSE award winners and where they are now

National Freelancers Day 2017: IPSE award winners and where they are now


Emmeline Pidgen, Inspire Freelancer of the Year 2016

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your business?

I’m 28 and currently living in Lancashire. I’ve been a freelance professional illustrator for about six years now – creating books, advertising, graphic novels and a whole range of editorial illustrations. 

Emmeline Pidgen

Why did you first decide to go freelance?

I basically jumped straight into freelancing as soon as I’d graduated from my Illustration degree at University College Falmouth. Freelancing was the perfect fit for me because it gave me the freedom to explore the areas of illustration and business I was most interested in working in. It also allowed me to have control over my brand and the future of my career.

Why did you decide to enter the National Freelancer of the Year Awards in 2016?

Back in 2014, I was a finalist in the similar ‘15 or 15’ freelancer awards, and I found the experience extremely valuable – particularly because it gave me the chance to meet and collaborate with freelancers from a huge variety of backgrounds.

It was so inspiring and eye-opening that I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take part in the Freelancer of the Year Awards in 2016.

How has winning the award helped your career?

Winning the Freelancer of the Year Award has been brilliant not only for networking and promoting my work, but also for building my confidence as a freelancer. Because of the financial backing I got from it, I was also able to work on some major, career-defining projects. Since winning the award, I’ve been able to set aside time to write and illustrate two books as well – my first picture book and graphic novel. It’s incredibly exciting!

One year on from winning, how are you and your business doing?

Right now, I think I’m at the most exciting point in my career so far! Creatively, it’s been a really interesting year – I’ve worked on so many incredible projects and it’s been great to embrace the opportunities that have come from the awards: from filming and workshops to national press features and even judging this year’s awards. My confidence has grown exponentially, and I am far more focused on taking my business in the right direction and finding the way forward.

What have been your greatest achievements over the last year, and what are your biggest upcoming projects?

I think one of my biggest achievements was my ‘What Emmeline Wore in October’ blog, for which I collaborated with some major brands – like Fat Face, Oasis and Joules. It basically involved illustrating my outfit every day, and over the course of the month it actually got a total of over 100,000 views, as well as thousands of likes and shares.

As for the future, I’m most excited about the books and comics I’m working on and where they will go. I’ve also got plans to pitch my guide for freelancers in the creative industries to a number of publishers. Overall, it’s been an incredibly busy year, and definitely one of the most important for me so far!

Finally, what advice do you have for freelancers just starting out in your industry?

There’s no two ways about it: the creative industries are tough. There’s a lot of competition out there, and it can feel hard to get noticed and get the jobs you actually want to work on. So I think it’s important to take the time to really stoke your passion for the field you’ve chosen.

You’re doing this because you love it, right? So make sure it’s that passion that’s driving you forward and determining your direction, both in terms of your style and your career. You’ll almost certainly go through some tricky times as a freelancer, and when you do, just step back and take the time to remember what you love about your chosen career.

Lowri Roberts, Runner Up Inspire 2016

Firstly, can you just tell us a bit about yourself and your business?

I have two freelance businesses. First, Trosi Tanat Translation, which provides professional Welsh/ English translation services to a wide variety of clients in the public, private and third sectors – both locally and worldwide.

My other business is Siop Cwlwm, a retail business with both an online and a bricks and mortar presence. It sells Welsh books, cards and gifts. Both businesses reflect my passion and commitment to the Welsh language, and to securing its future.

Lowri Roberts

So, why did you first decide to go freelance?

Freelancing was my ambition for many years, but I first got started by operating my own businesses alongside a full-time job. I worked in that way for about eight years until a close family bereavement in 2014 made me re-evaluate my priorities. It gave me the ‘push’ I needed to make my long-held ambition a reality. And although I’d worried about making such a big step into the unknown, I soon discovered I actually had nothing to fear from becoming a freelancer.

Why did you decide to enter the National Freelancer of the Year Awards in 2016?

I think that basically I wanted to support the growing numbers of freelancers, and also reassure people considering making that step – particularly those, like me, who provide unique services that reflect their personal passions and heritage.

I also wanted to help do away with this idea that freelancing is restricted to urban areas, and show that it’s possible in rural areas too. I was keen IPSE award winners and where they are now June 2017 25 to promote Wales and the Welsh language as well.

Has being awarded the runner-up prize in 2016 helped your business – and if so, how?

The publicity and public recognition have given my business a real boost. I’ve appeared on Welsh language TV and radio programmes, discussing both my award and my freelance businesses.

Taking part in the awards process itself was an extremely valuable and enjoyable experience too, because it helped with my personal development and allowed me to recognise my own achievements.

It gave me the chance to get a fuller understanding of the benefits of IPSE membership too. I was also able to use the generous prize package to secure more support for my business.

One of the main things I used the prize money for was shoring up the infrastructure of my businesses, which has really paid off.

One year on from the awards, how are you and your business doing?

My translation business has been extremely busy – both with existing and new clients. My retail business has expanded too, with a new location offering a twice-monthly shop and the potential for development.

As for me, I’m expecting my first baby in August, so I’m currently planning my maternity leave. I know that can often be a challenge for a freelancer, but I’m confident my freelance status will give me more flexibility for childcare.

What have been your greatest achievements over the last year, and what are your biggest upcoming projects?

In the last year, I’ve been able to maintain andkeep providing an efficient service for my regular clients, and I’ve signed deals with a number of new blue chip clients as well. I’ve also invested in electronic stock control equipment for my retail business, which has made a big difference to my processes and just generally improved the customer experience.

At the moment I’m working with Draenog Design developing a new website for Trosi Tanat Translation. It’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do without the prize money.

Finally, what advice do you have for freelancers just starting out in your industry?

Firstly, don’t waste time thinking about going freelance – life’s too short! Test your business idea and if you get positive feedback, go into freelancing – you won’t look back (I certainly didn’t!).

When you’ve established yourself, take the time to find the right awards to enter – like the Freelancer of the Year Awards. I’ve found investing time in awards means you can reap the rewards in the long-run – both in terms of personal development and business growth.