Linda Barclay Isles - Feral Interview
What area/field are you in?
Communications. Storytelling. For 18 years I have been writing, editing, proofreading, creating communications strategies, crafting marketing campaigns, dreaming up social media content – all of these and more. I have had full-time and part-time posts of all sorts and throughout my career I’ve picked up freelance work too. Earlier this year I was made redundant and, for the first time, I was fully feral, making freelancing my main source of income.
With this new-found freedom I followed my heart and applied for a Masters course in Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews and I was thrilled and terrified in equal measure to be accepted.
And, just as I made my return to studies, I was offered a part-time fixed-term communications role with a charity, so for the next year I will be juggling reading, writing, working and a couple of small freelance contracts.
Life is never dull!
Describe in as many ways as you like what you do. Tell me all your job titles.
Before becoming feral I was a journalist for 13 years, a content producer for 18 months and a director of communications for three. I think, if I had to choose just one title it would be writer, because that most accurately reflects what I do. I couldn’t edit or proofread, or create campaigns and strategies if I didn’t also write. A popular title nowadays is story-teller, which can feel a bit cringe, but it does get straight to the heart of everything I do – write stories for businesses and organisations that will move people to work with them, buy from them, donate to them, get in touch with them.
What is the biggest eye roll you’ve given a question or comment about being a freelancer? Or what would you like waged people to understand about working as a freelancer?
I roll my eyes right out of my head quite often when prices are discussed. If a business is outsourcing something to a freelancer, there’s a tendency to think they can get it for cheap. Which, of course, they can. There will always be a cheaper option, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. Freelancers have to factor in sick pay, holiday pay, insurance, equipment, expenses into their fee to make going feral work for them, and I don’t think many businesses or waged people consider that.
I also want to smash things when people say ‘If it will only take you half an hour, why is it so expensive?’ You are paying me for the 18 years I have spent building up knowledge and experience, not for the 30 minutes it takes me to write your commission.
What’s your favourite part of being a freelancer?
Not having a boss. How wonderfully freeing it is not to have to navigate the ego, whims and demands of a manager.
What is the hardest part?
Not having a boss. With no one cracking the whip you do need a lot of self-discipline.
How long have you been feral?
Not long, only 8 months or so.
What have your highlights been? (Take a moment to have a brag about your accomplishments)
For me it has been turning a dreadful situation – redundancy – into something wonderful. Freelance clients who I enjoy working with, a return to study and, most recently, the offer of a job which came out of the blue. I felt out of my depth at the very beginning, but I decided to trust my instinct and not to worry about the future and, as a result, things have fallen into place.
How do you protect your work time from distractions?
That’s a tricky one! Scheduling it into my diary in advance, blocking out time slots where I know I’ll be most productive. Also knowing when to stop and take a break, go for a walk and a think – these become guilt-free when you are feral and often your best ideas are formulated when you allow yourself to run free.
Where do you work? home?studio?/favourite cafe/all of the above?
From home mostly although before Covid I did enjoy the sounds and sights and smells of a café occasionally to remind me that human life exists.
Do you think you’ll ever retire?
Oh yes. As soon as possible. Just gotta wait for the inspiration for my best-seller to strike!
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.
I would love to write books and, in between, create a programme that connects young women with mentors who can help them build confidence in themselves and their careers. I would also love to be a talking head – I’ve often thought how bloody wonderful it must be to be asked for your opinion on something all the time, like Lauren Laverne or Miranda Sawyers.
Anything else you’d like to highlight about the life of a freelancer?
This David Bowie quote comes to my mind, and I think it’s perfect for anyone thinking about freelancing. And also for life in general:
“Always go a little further into the water than you feel you're capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don't feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you're just about in the right place to do something exciting.” - David Bowie
What question would you like to ask other freelancers?
How do they record their time on a client’s commission? I often forget to note this down and would like practical solutions, other than my stopwatch…
Thanks Linda for a great interview! If you want to follow in Rebecca and Linda's footsteps and would like to be featured on my blog, comment or contact me throughly website.