Digital Publishing
3 mins read

Joys of launching an indie mag, from the founder of Freelancer

In this week’s episode we hear from Sophie Cross, the founder and editor of Freelancer magazine. She tells Peter about her penchant for writing business plans, the freelance community that inspired the Freelancer magazine launch, and how she kept the spark going after the initial rush of the first issue.

In the news roundup the team discusses the remarkable eCommerce based turnaround of Future PLC, Twitter’s revenue results, and ask if Facebook is launching its independent publishing platform Bulletin in a smart way.

The full transcript is live here, or see below for some highlights:

On writing business plans

I tried to come up with lots of ideas, constantly writing business plans. I still do… it’s like a hobby. I suppose if you’d actually looked at how many business plans I’ve written or started to write, then you’d probably been in triple figures by now, how many URLs I’ve bought!

The pandemic

We decided to move back to London, that was last February, and I was raring to go. I was like, ‘I’m going to take the travel and hospitality marketing industry by storm.’

By March, I lost most of my client work. And then was like, ‘Oh, I’m not really sure what I’m doing with my life’.

I really leaned on the freelance communities at this point. I was on social media a lot and Slack groups, just fantastic the people that I met online. Then off the back of that I came up with the idea for the magazine.

On starting a magazine from a community

I felt that it wasn’t intentional, but it was almost sort of textbook actually. Looking back, it seems like, well, of course, you would do it that way, of course you would already be part of the community that you wanted to serve.

Coming up with an idea, and then trying to become part of the community, that doesn’t make as much sense really.

In terms of being able to come up with ideas, you know people that are buying it so much better. You know their behaviour. You know what they want. You know what interests them. You have that direct relationship where you can ask people to be involved and what they want.

The power of shared stories

If you’re struggling to price something, or you’re feeling like a bit nervous about turning up to a webinar or a networking event, you forget that everyone else feels like that. There’s a kind of power from just reminding yourself that, or being reminded of that.

It’s totally about sharing people’s stories… sharing stories from people who are really like you. They’re not necessarily people at the top of their game. Some of these people are but I guess it’s also how you define being at the top of your game.

That doesn’t always necessarily mean working for the best clients or being famous. It’s also people at the top of their game because they’ve got amazing work life balance, or because they’re doing something a bit differently.

On the diversity of freelance roles

There’s a balance between talking to and about the freelancers that have the most common roles, like web designers, web developers, journalists, copywriters, graphic designers, marketers and representing other people and bringing them in.

But I think, even when we’re talking to a photographer, for instance, I’m thinking this article is going to be more interesting to non-photographers; finding out how a freelance photographer might work and how they would find new clients or how they would work for an agent. It might be things that you haven’t thought of, but actually might work for you, outside your own kind of industry.