It's been six months now since I quit my job and left Oslo in search of a happier life as a freelancer. All too often, grand “I quit” posts are never followed up by bloggers, so here's my experience of working as a freelancer in Norway, so far.
What do I do?
This is a frustrating question as it always depends who is asking! I consider myself a multi-skilled person who can turn his hand to many things, from project management to WordPress, from training to writing. My greatest love is to combine travel writing and online publishing, i.e. what I do right here on this blog.
Keeping a blog going for over two years is not easy and you can only do it if you're passionate about the topic. But of course it doesn't pay the bills – especially here in Norway – so I branched out into magazines. Update: Also now into guidebooks!
So far I've been published in Hotelier International and Baltic Outlook, the in-flight magazine of airBaltic. I've also completed articles for SCAN magazine and Blue Wings, the in-flight magazine of FinnAir, both due out any day now.
Finally, I've agreed to write for the Norwegian American Weekly, a Seattle-based newspaper. As glamorous as travel writing sounds and as fun as it is, it doesn't pay well either. Perhaps one day I'll become the Bill Bryson of Scandinavia.
Perhaps not. So, I needed something else to pay the bills.
My offer to Norwegian businesses is simple. I'm a native English speaker with experience in digital marketing, writing for the web, project management and training. As good as Norwegians are in English, they do make mistakes. It doesn't matter in everyday conversation, but in business negotiations and marketing materials, it does.
Norway is a small market. More and more businesses are looking to expand abroad, especially to the UK and USA. That's where I come in.
I've been lucky to keep a great working relationship with my previous employer. They understood my reasons for leaving but were keen to continue a working relationship. I now produce training materials and web copy for them, and the relationship looks like it will continue into next year.
I say I've been lucky, but as I learned very quickly, succeeding as a freelancer is all about networking and nurturing relationships, especially here in Norway. Of the five organisations I've worked with to date, four came about as a direct result of networking and personal relationships. Which brings me nicely on to…
Coworking in Trondheim
As much as I like our little flat, living and working in the same small space day in, day out, would be horrific, especially now we're entering the murky days of winter. Thankfully I've found the perfect place to spend my days at DIGS, Trondheim's new co-working office.
Not only has DIGS given me a place to work from, it's given me a community to feel a part of, introductions to relevant people in the city, and most important of all, friends. Update: For various reasons, I am now based out of Work-Work, another coworking space in central Trondheim. You can hear about who else works here in this podcast episode.
My work with corporate clients has been so successful that I'm planning to expand in 2014. My goal is to move from a freelance model to an agency model. What that means is instead of exchanging time for money, I'll be managing a business, giving me the freedom to choose what I spend my time on without the pressure of paying the bills.
That's the plan, at least.
Of course it's not an instant process thanks to that little devil called cash flow, but phase one is well underway. Once I've completed my current market research study, I'll be launching the business right here on Life in Norway.
Stick around for the ride!