On Saturday evening I was lucky enough to get along to the first-ever Birmingham Beer Bash, which took place in Digbeth over Friday and Saturday. For those of you who are not closely acquainted with goings on in Birmingham’s most happening of areas, allow me to tell you a little more about the Birmingham Beer Bash and how I found the event.
Earlier this month I wrote about how I planned to utilise the flexibility I currently have as a freelancer to develop my skills and explore new career possibilities. I’ve been doing this in a couple of ways. Firstly, I am increasingly working directly with organisations to help them use social media effectively. Secondly, I have been building on my existing passion for photography, with view to offering this as a professional service.
Today I’d like to let you know where I’m up to so far with my photography and how I have got to this point. I would also like to share with you my first professional photography portfolio, which I will be expanding upon in future. I hope this post encourages other people to have the confidence to explore their own creative interests and career aspirations.
I used my last post to provide a recap, for myself as much as anyone else, of what I’d been working on. Looking back at what I wrote, I’m struck by the sheer variety of different activities I’ve been involved with since going freelance again this summer.
This way of working has continued into July but rather than go over the same old ground I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve been learning from one aspect of my work, helping organisations to use social media more effectively and so avoid the pitfalls associated with simply jumping on the bandwagon.
It’s been over two weeks since I last wrote my last blog post, reporting back on my experiencing of Jelly co-working. Lots of things have happened in that time. If John Lennon were still around, I like to think he’d have cause to remark, ‘life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans [to blog]‘. So what’s been happening? Let me fill you in.
Skills to Pay the Bills
I’m pleased to say my freelance career is gaining momentum. After writing a guest blog for Governance International I have recently been invited to join them as an Associate. Based in Birmingham but with global reach, Governance International is a non-profit organisation which helps agencies work more effectively with their service users, communities and partners to improve outcomes for citizens. You can find out more about Governance International via their website and on Twitter.
Initially, my work at Governance International will draw on my expertise in design techniques and co-designing public services with citizens and staff. Governance International has an impressive track record and I am looking forward to having the chance to develop imaginative responses to the serious challenges facing public services are facing.
In other news, I have also been working with another Birmingham-based organisation, the equalities and human rights thinktank brap, on an interesting piece of research. The project has involved me capturing vox pop-style video interview young adults about their experiences of growing up in Birmingham and their hopes and expectations for the future. Ultimately, it is hoped the research will help community leaders identify opportunities for social action at both city and neighbourhood levels. For now, I’m enjoying learning more about how people from different backgrounds feel about Birmingham and honing my video production skills.
My Radical Sabbatical
Besides this core work, I have been taking advantage of the greater flexibility I have as a freelancer to explore different career possibilities.
I recently came across the concept of a radical sabbatical, whereby you seek to establish whether a new line of work is for you by actually trying out that work in real life. This may seem obvious but actually it is all too easy to get stuck in the thinking phase and never move on to ‘doing’. In many ways, the radical sabbatical fits with design thinking’s commitment to iterative learning. Instead of waiting until you have all the facts before acting, design encourage you to experiment, to test new approaches on a small, low-risk scale before refining your approach based on feedback.
It is still early days but I am finding the concept of the radical sabbatical has given me permission to test out new ideas. For example, I am working hard to develop my photography skills through a course I am taking at the mac arts centre and have been having speaking to colleagues about how I might apply these skills in a commercial setting. I will let you know how I get on.
For those of you who are curious as to how I am getting on with my photography, feel free to check out more of my photos on Flickr.
Meeting People is Easy (in Birmingham, at least)
Finally, I have been making a real effort to get away from my home office and meet new people.To this end I’d like to say thank you to Pauline Roche, Lorna Prescott and Paul Webster for organising last week’s excellent VCSS camp. For the uninitiated, VCSS camp was as unconference designed to improve how voluntary and community sector infrastructure organisations use social media. I ended up giving an impromptu presentation on Storify but otherwise just enjoyed learning more about the challenges infrastructure organisations are facing and working with them to develop potential solutions.
Last but by no means least, I would also like to say thank you to Shakti Women for inviting me to talk to them about why in this age of information overload they should still make time for social media. Shakti is a personal and professional development network for women. I came away from my meeting impressed by the network the mutual support Shakti offers its members. You can find out more by clicking on the links below.
Keep in Touch
As ever, please feel free to get in touch with me if you would like to discuss any potential work opportunities or you’d like to know more about any of the ideas I discuss on this site: