For all but the earliest part of my career I've either been, or been close to, freelancers in the web and free software world. While going solo is a rush of excitement, freedom and invention, there are also the hard parts of business to consider. I've seen too many people lose confidence and return to less liberated employment because they couldn't get to grips with the basics of getting work.
This is why I'm really happy to see Stephanie Booth's Going Solo conference, coming up in May this year in Lausanne. It's for freelancers and self-employed people in the internet industry, and will cover all the nitty gritty aspects of working alone, including business, marketing and the essentials of ensuring doing what you enjoy doesn't become a chore.
I'll end with quoting from a recent posting of Stephanie's, A Theory About Freelancers in the Internet Industry. This struck a chord with me, and is what makes me think Going Solo is going to be an excellent event.
Most freelancers go solo because they are good at doing something that people are willing to pay for, and attracted by the freedom of being one’s own boss and the perspective of possible lucrative earnings. Business skills are not usually paid much attention to until they are suddenly needed, although they are what will determine how successful one can be in the long run. At that point, it’s common for the soloist to feel lost and isolated.
Going Solo is a one-day event that was designed to address this issue. We will gather 150 soloists and small business owners around a core group of speakers who are experienced freelancers and will share their knowledge on a variety of business topics. We also want to give freelancers an occasion to come in direct contact with others like them and build a European community where they can support each other.
(Note: My conference software company, Expectnation, is a sponsor of Going Solo, and it's been great for us to learn more about empowering small, focused operations as well as some of our larger customers.)