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Feral Freelancer Is Back! - Welcome Bettina Linstrum.

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

My first guest for the Feral Freelancer return is Bettina Linstrum who works in the field of coaching and outdoor arts. Welcome Bettina!


What's your favourite thing about being freelance?

Freedom & Flexibility. No boss, no colleagues, tea breaks whenever I want, variety of projects & people and skills required of me.


What's your main pain point of being a freelancer?

No security, endless hustling, need to know everything! No guarantee of wage. Pension??? Not underselling yourself. Also conversely: no colleagues, no bosses = no structure, lonely at times, always new stuff to learn.


What made you chose self employment and how long have you been feral?

Starting work in the arts, the small organisations I worked in weren't in a position to employ me, so I needed to register as self employed, and got paid through expenses sometimes, and what would now be a 0hr contract. It also meant I had to have several different projects, which meant I got around a lot of interesting organisations & events as Creative Producer in the outdoor arts scene. I tended to like the flexibility it gave me, the opportunities to dip my toes in, while not committing, it was an interesting position to be in a (think pollinator bee). I then got a grant to set up my own business, and wanted it to be an umbrella organisation for freelance producers, to give support to another, share networks and shared infrastructure. A hive. And it was buzzing for about 8 years. It changed my role into more line mgmt and company matters, but I had also started a family, so the heady days of travelling around for work had ended anyway. The hive doesn't exist anymore - it slowly changed with arts funding changes, had a little wave with the Olympics, but then went back to me working at home. I started coaching in 2011, and it was a good fit with my other work supporting artists to create performance projects, working as external capacity for international organisations & networks, and then it became a gradual shift from arts work to coaching creatives. I don't think I ever had a proper job!


Big yourself up, blow your trumpet, show off, fuck being humble. Tell me the biggest achievements of your life. Let's not forget the small wins, what have you done in the last month you're pretty pleased about?

  • Having a career in the arts, when there wasn't a clear path to follow, only to forge.

Other things I'm proud of:

  • I worked with many brilliant arts organisations, and with many lovely people.

  • I have a children's book dedicated to me.

  • When I worked for an outdoor arts agent in Germany, I loved how i was working in German English and French, daily.

  • I set up my own company ArtsAgenda which had amazing people working for it, that have all continued brilliant careers. We played a key part in growing global reputation of the site specific theatre company dreamthinkspeak, as their creative producer.

  • I was the artistic director and co-producer of Derby Feste, a new outdoor arts festival, it grew and grew and is still going.

  • I'm a really good coach. I'm down to earth, fun and playful. Most recently I've started training as Therapeutic coach and it's like someone's given me a whole new set of toys that i know how to play with. Hypnosis, EFT, core transformation, visualisation - I love it!!!

  • In 2019 I designed and delivered a leadership programme for outdoor arts producers as a residency with 101 Outdoor Arts Creation centre called TOOLBOX. A holistic Reflect & Recharge intensive to build confidence, coaching self reflection and trust in self, setting boundaries, understanding your own energy & stressors, some producer stuff, while having a lovely time with food & yoga to bond with and create a new network of freelancers. {the kind of training programme I wish I'd had 20 years earlier!}

  • I created a day retreat called Lounging Lionesses - I've only ever run it as a pilot, as the pandemic hit, but I still really love the idea of it. Watch this space...!

  • Since 2008 I've been a key part of Caravan - an international showcase for English performance. I've shaped this 3 day event with my care and attention to detail, it's all about international conversations and connections.

Other wins:

  • My Mum died suddenly when I was pregnant with my 2nd baby. We were very close. I managed for it to not break me, but make me stronger and more honest with myself, and demanding the same of life. I haven't much patience for bullshit anymore.

  • I've created a family for my husband and our boys, which values holidays & relaxing and a good laugh, and always always great food.

  • Last Sunday I learnt how to rescue a Swiss meringue buttercream.

What are your favourite skills you've acquired throughout your life, maybe you don't use them much anymore but you like knowing you can use them when called upon?

  • I'm at home in 2 countries. I'm German & English, I left Germany when I was 19, lived in Paris, and UK, and have made Brighton my home since 2003. Sometimes that feels hard, there's always stuff you miss, mostly food and people.

  • I love being a linguist. I try to emphasise this gift to my boys, but I fear that school has taken the fun out of learning a language.

  • Learning about coaching and understanding my own motivations, self reflection and all that stuff, has to be one of the key ingredients for me to how content I am today. It's fundamental and that's why I want other people to experience it too.

  • I'm playful and I value seeking lightness in what I do, or situations I find myself in.

  • Running, swimming, baking, cooking, sewing and knitting with friends and solo has kept me sane & laughing.

  • I'd love to have the skill to make money, though. If you know anyone....?

Where's your favourite location to work? Where/when do you do your best thinking?

I have an office in a garden room. It's a lovely space and I like looking at the trees in our tiny garden, the seagulls are screeching in the background. It's got a sofa in it. Lying down is not inactivity!


If money wasn’t factored into your work choices, what would be your most glorious dream for your future as a freelancer? Be as outrageous as you dare.

THANK YOU FOR THIS QUESTION!!!!


WHAT I REALLY REALLY WANT:

A waiting list of coaching clients and interesting well paid projects, many invitations to hear me speak about stuff, because I'm really great at it. Being really great at speaking in public. And still plenty of holidays and days off, and masses of fun and energy for my work. Someone else to do my marketing and tech shit. Probably a PA to deal with all the admin of the above. An annual [paid] excuse to take the Caledonian Sleeper train to Glasgow. Enough time for cups of tea with family & friends.


PLUS:

A series of coaching day retreats throughout the season, in a luxurious place, where people can instantly flop into relaxing and being. A day of self reflection, making space for lightbulb moments, and home truths in a supportive surrounding, inspired by the seasons. Fabulous food bursting with nutrients and flavour, and cake. I'm the coaching goddess that effortlessly creates the atmosphere for learning and openness. While earning loads.


Lounging Lionesses - similar to the above, for women only. With extra spare time for wafting in beautiful kimonos, face masks, maybe massage, snoozing, silent walks, coaching reflections and stating intentions, sharing inspirations, celebrating confidence & power. Maybe a communal roar. While earning loads obvs. Run retreats for black women. With a black woman.


Twice per year: devising & hosting [not cooking] a supper club for strangers with several courses of 'conversation questions' that deep dive into the soul while delicious food & drink is being served.


Eventually enough money so that I buy a large farm, which can house retreats and group events, luxurious & simple, maybe a pool. Have enough money so I can make it affordable for charities, single mothers with kids, NHS staff, volunteers, food bank organisers...


What is your biggest work block right now and how can we help?

TECH TECH TECH. Oh the passwords. the apps. the social media circus. Do I really need to be on tiktok, now? The how to do your own marketing. effortlessly!


What self care methods do you use to keep yourself centred and grounded when stress is kicking your arse?

Baking bread. When there's so much tapping on the keyboard going on, and no tactile rewards coming your way, baking bread, gives you love back: starting in the morning, prodding it mid morning, shaping it at lunchtime, into oven in the afternoon. Eating it at end of day. Satisfaction guaranteed!


Going for a walk. When I've been staring at the computer too long and no inspiration comes, and I feel myself on the precipice of a downward spiral, it's time to disrupt what I'm doing. Movement will release stuckness. Just going for a walk and saying hello to the world, something will shift.


Sometimes I just need to do something useful, like cleaning and vacuuming and then I can get on with stuff where the results aren't as obvious.


Saying it out loud, saying exactly what it is that's bothering you, write it down. Breathe 3 times deeply. See whether anything has changed.


Imagine the fun you'll have once it's complete. Know that you've done hard things before and got through them.


Think of someone who's disgustingly unaffected by a shitstorm, how would they ride this?


AND MOST RECENTLY: Emotional Freedom Technique. It's fun, it's free, it really shifts stuff.


Anything else you’d like to highlight about your life as a freelancer?

This has helped me: Embracing the diversity of your career and its many different pulls and challenges is one way of celebrating - it's never boring and requires so many different skills of you! Remember to milk your freedom. MAKE USE OF YOUR RIGHT TO CHOSE your working hours.


Finally, do you have a favourite book/podcast/song/series you'd like to recommend?

ESCAPISM LIST:

SERIES: The WestWing & the westwing weekly podcast in tandem. A comfort blanket of excellent tv writing and very witty podcasting.


Thanks to Bettina for taking time out to answer my questions. I hope you enjoyed learning more about being freelance from her experience. You can find Bettina on her website or on Instagram.

 

If you can spare it and you enjoyed this post (or even if you didn't and you just want to show your support) please buy me a coffee to help support me doing what I do best. https://www.buymeacoffee.com/JillSkulina You can also share this blog with joyous abandon if you can't afford the coffee.


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