Freelance Festival latestThe 2018 Launceston Freelance Festival organised by its founder, Sue Bell, brought together people from Tasmania and mainland Australia, sharing their experiences and insights as freelancers. Held at the start-up space, Enterprize, in Launceston’s charming CBD, the Festival boasted a wide range of presenters and participants and was a great networking event and reminder of the talent and innovation of Australia’s many artists, journalists/writers and illustrators.

In a keynote address – How to build your business, at speed – Canberra freelance journalist, Ginger Gorman, highlighted: determining goals, building your brand, attracting clients, networking, being flexible, juggling projects, and dealing with the loneliness of working alone. Focus and discipline are critical she says, and ensuring that “whatever social media you use, make sure you do it properly”. Back in Canberra, Ginger and her colleague, Sue White run media-management classes via Sue conducted a travel-writing workshop at the Festival, sharing her tips, including getting the ear of editors, making the most of trips and the realities of life on the road.

An event highlight saw Catherine Zengerer and Tracey Spicer of Behind Australia’s #MeToo discussing the difficulties that freelancers often face in attracting media executives’ interest in investigative journalism. Discussions centred on many issues including having sound work contracts and making time to write well-researched accurate pieces.

Have Laptop Will Travel reflected the Festival’s mood. And that is the motto of digital nomads, brothers Ryan and Lincoln Trainor (who have for many years run their own educational and training business both in Australia and internationally). Along with another digital nomad, Sue White, they described how this way of working suits them and their families.

Academic, Professor Jackie Ewart from Griffith University, outlined her findings from the award-winning Reporting Islam Project (, funded federally funded through the Attorney-General’s Department and managed by the Queensland Police Service who have contracted Professor Ewart and her colleague, Professor Mark Pearson. Jackie shared insights on how journalists can approach cultural sensitivity and help develop resources to ensure that they are fair and accurate when reporting stories about Muslims and Islam.

Not surprisingly, Launceston-based freelance writer-comedian, Rachel Berger’s presentation – Joke’s on You: Comedy Writing – was very entertaining. Citing various comedians including the Marx Brothers and Jack Benny from the 1930s, Rachel’s tips included: “have the courage to put your ego on the line”. And, “don’t – apologise, explain, exaggerate, be bland, tentative, timid, obscure or pompous”. And she reminded: “do not underestimate the power of words or surprise”; “tell a story so that the audience understands it”; “be unconventional”, and “zero in on conflict”.

The Bearded Geeks (Bobby Baxter, Patrick Brown and Brent Jago) provided insights about podcasting, including the best equipment to use, uploading techniques, and the possibilities of conversation-style “beers with your best friends” podcasts. In Bigger Picture – from fan art to working for Marvel Comics and MTV they shared stories with Chris Rattray, including E-learning, TV animation and the merits or otherwise of pro-bono writing.

In her keynote address, Lessons from the Freelancer’s Year, the very busy Lindy Alexander – shared ideas on blogging, writing content, getting a healthy salary and developing projects for various brands. She noted the importance of keeping in contact with editors, blogging, researching/writing and pitching for work.

Another busy freelancer, Nina Hendy, described her work with clients and The Freelance Collective website – – which she created. Spread across 23 disciplines globally, the website is hub where freelancers can create their own page and clients can find freelancers for projects.

The future direction of work was of obvious interest. Institute for Working Futures P/L Director and Chair, Dr Marcus Bowles; Genevieve Cother, Industrial Designer with Business Action Learning Tasmania; and Ryan and Lincoln Trainor, discussed “new ways” of working, noting the importance of education and training to meet the demands of rapidly-changing work environments.

Among other presentations were a discussion on Books and Publishing with Johanna Baker-Dowdell, Anna Dusk and Chris Gallagher (former Director of the Tasmanian Writers Centre); Gatherings, Curating and Running Events with Liz Frankham, Ryan Limb, Chris Gallagher and Anna Magnus; and other workshops including on the importance of superannuation for freelancers.

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