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Writer Tamara Arden with Freelance Cape Town
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Freelance with writer Tamara Arden

posted by Ed Beukes February 17, 2017 0 comments

Tamara Arden has worked in an array of media such as magazines, newspapers, radio, advertising and digital; and one can only see why this freelance writer’s pen is destined for great things.

Both free-spirited and grounded; Tamara shares her freelance journey and her words slowly draw you in. Through her story she conveys her strong will and sensitivity to life and work in an unashamed and poetic way.

FCT: Tamara, how long have you worked as a freelance writer?

I’ve been dipping in and out of that role since I chose words as a career path. I generously gave my time to freelance projects during my in-between moments, when the office roles and company culture conflicted with my vision and integrity.
But until recently, I’ve never believed or given myself the chance to branch out. This was until I decided to invest in my potential, skill set and refined craft with a confidence to secure me, which is why I joined FCT in November 2016. So, it’s still early days – and I’m curious where this journey will take me.

FCT: We like your word choice: Vision, Integrity, Journey… Tell us more about that. What is your vision with your freelance work? What does integrity mean to you? And in your opinion, what are some of the key elements needed for someone who wishes to embark on the freelance journey?

All those attributes have become an extension of the personality and mood my writing carries.

I wear my integrity like a crown, letting it it lead the way.

Writer Tamara Arden with Freelance Cape Town

The media industry is both stimulating and draining. It often narrates your direction, instead of you – so I needed to know who I was and what I stood for before I dedicated my time to a freelance path.
Sifting through each role; you are expected to adapt- be a chameleon, so if you lose sight of your integrity, the work will not sound believable.
My biggest tool is being an active listener, I use it to guide the vision.

You need to learn to be both the lone wolf and the team player on this journey, pairing up ideas and strengths to create artistry.

One vision is essential: it helps absorb and contribute.
Collaborative vision is magic and its practice is humbling.

The important part is the story; it gives context to your timeline and future. No matter the medium, the key is to share it your way. Trust your contribution to the work.

A freelance journey is just about giving clients ‘you’. Everyone is looking for individuality and how it will support their brand. Sincerity, honesty and openness are my go-to’s – you must have a strong will to be be heard and ask as many questions until you feel you have the clarity and understanding of what is expected of you.

 

Writer Tamara Arden with Freelance Cape Town

FCT: Tell us about the project you most enjoyed working on and why.

I was asked to write, narrate and record an audio tour for Voice Map in 2015. I wouldn’t jump to explain it as enjoyable first. I’d say more along the lines of daunting, awkward and out of my comfort zone, but by the time it was finalised, that joy spread throughout me.
I wrote audio copy for a tour around Braamfontein, Joburg. I thought this would be the only expectation of me, but alas, it was quite a lengthy process – a lot of back and forth, pushing me against the limitations I instilled in myself and audio was a whole new platform to me. I had a great guide with me every step of the way, showing me how to be concise, clear and relatable in my choice of words. I learnt to be a storyteller in a different way. So day after day, as I sat under a duvet to shut the external street noises out, using my phone as a microphone, concealing the discomfort of listening to my voice over and over again, the awkward and the uncomfortable turned into the beautiful and the brilliant. I had created a living piece of content for a dynamic and innovative start-up for people to download and navigate their way around the area I had mapped out. It gave me a taste of that world and I’d love to venture deeper again one day.

FCT: If you could narrate the next freelance chapter of your life, what would your last paragraph sound like?

I think it’s quite an obtuse question, but I’ll write what’s in the heart… She asked for the transparency and certainty of today, the potential of another tomorrow and the choice to discover liberty in the artistry of life. Shape Shifting constantly as she mastered her every mood, she began to operate on a high emotional frequency where every detail, gesture and interaction deeply moved her. She immersed herself in nature and used gratitude as a foundation to appreciate the comings and goings, the temporary and the divine.

The gift was just to stay present and keep that reminder active:
Be you. Be unashamedly you.

 

Click here to view Tamara Arden’s profile.

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Charles Siboto, his journey and learnings as a Freelancer

posted by Marius Vosloo March 22, 2016 1 Comment

We recently had a chat with Charles Siboto and I can honestly say, from the first exchange of mails we had a LOT of respect for him, the way he communicates and when you see his profile it’s pretty hard not to be impressed with him.

Please enjoy the read below as Charles shares his journey with us.

Journeys have been an overarching theme in my life of late, whether it’s at work or at home. Journeys are perhaps one of the overarching themes of all life. That and running a race. All my teachers in primary school loved comparing life to running a race. I digress, though. What I want to get at is that when one is on a journey it is good to stop once in a while and take stock. Just stop, catch your breath, relax and look back at the way you have come. A little break also allows you to look at the road ahead and to plan a bit.

I recently joined the wonderful people over at Freelance Cape Town as a freelancer. Marius Vosloo, the guy who heads the team up, immediately made me feel welcome and at home. They just launched their blog (where you are reading this) and this is the perfect opportunity for me to pause, take stock and reflect on my journey as Charles thus far and to add my voice to theirs and see what sort of music comes of it.

Dear Reader and fellow traveller, sit down and rest your feet a while and let me tell you my story.

My name is Charles Siboto and I am a reader and lover of beautiful stories. I haunt places where I can find good stories. My love for stories has resulted in me becoming someone who works with stories, whether they are my own or stories that other people wish to tell. I mainly prefer stories that other people tell because there is nothing better for me than getting so caught up in someone else’s visions that you just cannot help but love and understand that person a bit more than you did before being moved by their story. I grew up as a reader and from early on I knew that stories are magic and that I want to be a part of that magic when I grow up. I never knew in what capacity I would help make and spread more of this magic but at least I had a general direction in which to start looking for where I can fit in.

I am not even all that picky in my love for stories. I love the stories my grandmother told me as a child and listened to Gcina Mhlope on the radio every Saturday morning on a show she had that was sponsored by Joko tea. I can’t remember the name of the show but I loved the monsters she always told of and how the children in the stories always outsmarted them. I read books, comic books, played video games, watched movies and listen to weird radio dramas. I landed up studying English Literature, Linguistics and Literary studies and I loved most of it and hated some of it. I remember one instance in my fourth year of university where I read the comic book, Final Crisis by Grant Morrison and had one of the greatest moments of my life reading a story and it shook me to my core. Final Crisis is a massive story in its complexity and when Zillo Valla (if my memory serves me well), one of the beings in charge of protecting the multiverse utters the following words it just gets me every single time I read that story: “Behold: we monitors who were faceless once . . . We all have names now, and stories. There are heroes and villains . . . secrets and lovers.” Things like this unstitch me. Somewhere in that comic book Superman asks that the words, To Be Continued be carved on his tombstone because humanity’s story never comes to an end, it always carries on. I read and love J.R.R. Tolkien and he taught me that some stories can break your heart and yet still strike you with sorrow as sharp as swords, eucatastrophe he called it, the good ending that breaks your heart.

Stories lead me to where I am today. My name is Charles Siboto and I am an editor of children’s books by day at one of South Africa’s biggest publishing houses. This is a great honour and privilege for me because it was a struggle for me to get my foot in that door but like any good character in your favourite stories I persevered and always kept on going. I am also a freelancer in the sense that I use the majority of my free time to blog and write about books, movies, comic books, video games, technology, lifestyle events and even a dash of politics for various online media. I also offer my services as a proofreader and editor to almost just about anyone who needs it. Interestingly enough, French engineering students turn up on my doorstep with reports for me to proofread on a regular basis. I have even dabbled in doing voiceovers, officially becoming the voice of one our book characters at work.

This, dear Reader and fellow traveller, is where I find myself currently. I am juggling a publishing career and exploring many avenues as a freelancer. I am learning a lot in both spaces and I love it. I’m working with stories and helping people who tell them find ways to tell them as clearly as possible, whether it’s an author writing a book for children or a company that needs content written to succinctly share their vision. My own story remains, always, to be continued . . .

Thank you for sharing your journey with us Charles.

If you would like to make contact with him, you are more than welcome to do so via his profile – Charles Siboto

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Fulfilment through Freedom

posted by Marius Vosloo March 9, 2016 0 comments

We recently had the pleasure to welcome Natascha Strauss to our Freelance Cape Town family.

Take some time out of your day and enjoy the read below to get to know Natascha and her writing style better.

Up to this point, my life has been extraordinary.

Euphoric highs, catastrophic lows and heart-warming everyday moments fuelled a kaleidoscopic spectrum of emotions, sensations and experiences that are now life lessons, meaningful scars and cherished memories.

The thing is: I want to keep living an extraordinary life in 2016 – and beyond – and for that to happen I need freedom.

Freedom to determine and change my routine, whenever I please.

A chance to foster new skills.

The opportunity to manage myself.

The choice to use my time to grow… or simply to indulge in life’s simple pleasure.

The Change

This sudden desire for independence is the result of a number of events, over a period of time that gradually, yet significantly influenced me. Then again, perhaps it is the Saturn Return theory at play (also mentioned by fellow Cape Town freelancer, Nadia Krige, in her recent OurVoice blog post.)

My point is, I reached a crossroads and it was time for a life-altering decision.

So I made one. I chose freedom.

At the end of February, I left my job. It was a monumental move; possibly the boldest thing I have ever done. It meant I had to leave my work family and give up the security of a steady income, among other things of course.

The Road Ahead

Now, although it has only been a few days, I rejoice in my independence (despite being a mild sufferer of impostor syndrome). Armed with a healthy fear of the unknown and almost crippling excitement for the future, I cannot help but to feel alive and surprisingly focused. My restrictions are my own and the drive to succeed is invigorating.

Here’s to the future!

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Things I’ve learned from freelancing so far

posted by Marius Vosloo March 1, 2016 2 Comments

It’s been just over six months since I set out from the safe harbour that was my stable job as a content producer for a well-respected media house into the wild waters of freelance writing.

While I wouldn’t say resigning was a spur of the moment decision by any means, it certainly was a 1-2-3-JUMP, now-or-never kind of thing. I’d felt a change in the tide of my life and knew it was time to take a definitive step instead of just waiting for the restlessness to abate, even though I didn’t have too much of a plan in place.

Apparently this isn’t an altogether alien occurrence among those about to clock over into their 30s and my friend, Leandra, even told me its name: a Saturn Return.

Wikipedia explains it as follows: “The phenomenon is described by Western astrologers as influencing a person’s life development at roughly 29.5 year intervals, though the planetary influence may be felt for a few years before the exact conjunction… These intervals or ‘returns’ coincide with the approximate time it takes the planet Saturn to make one orbit around the sun, roughly 29.5 years.”

While I normally find astrology to be little more than light entertainment served up among the gossip and self-help articles in glossy magazines, I have to admit that this Saturn Return theory sounded rather spot on, especially since my big decision came exactly – almost to the day – at 29.5 years of age.

So, since six months in is probably a good point in time to take pause and reflect, here are a couple of things I’ve learned so far about being my own boss:

You’re going to need at least one mentor

One of the best things about having a stable job is the fact that, more often than not, it comes standard with a mentor: someone to show you the ropes, teach you the tricks of the trade, help you overcome your weaknesses and harness your strengths. When you step out of that world, it’s easy to become isolated and lose sight of what’s beneficial to your career. Without that healthy input your chances of buckling under pressure, cowering with fear, overrating your abilities and eventually unravelling entirely are pretty good.

This is why it is of the utmost importance that you make serious work of identifying people who can fill that gap from the start – peers who have walked a good distance of the path you are just starting out on, old hands whose work and career you admire, parents, friends, siblings – and make sure that you, not only touch base with them on a regular basis, but grant them the freedom to be completely, sometimes painfully, honest with you.

Find someone to help you with your finances

I never thought I’d say this, but here goes: get a financial advisor as well as someone to do your taxes. These people have been trained to work magic with numbers and, believe me, will do a far better job of sorting out the correct pension fund, medical aid, savings plan and dreaded tax return than you can ever dream of doing. While they can’t make the money for you, they sure can help you make the most of the little bit you have. (How’s that for a slogan?!)

Harness the power of social media

Share your work on Facebook, tweet about funny freelancing moments, tell stories on Instagram… hell, even put a little bit of effort into updating your LinkedIn (I know) profile. You never know who’s reading your stuff and when a well-timed post could get you your next job. Also, the more you practice your art, the better you get at it.

If you’re based in the Mother City, sign up for Freelance Cape Town

Signing up for Freelance Cape Town, biting the bullet and paying that joining fee, set off a serendipitous series of events that got me my first big job as well as a much-needed confidence boost to kick off my career.

To be more specific, Freelance Cape Town founder, Marius Vosloo contacted me within an hour after I had signed up and a further three hours later, we were in a meeting with my first client. True story! It was an urgent job with a looming deadline, but I tackled it gratefully. Within a week my work had been approved, I received my first pay check and the client had me on board for the next project.

What, makes this specific network for freelancers successful is that Marius is super hands on and helps connect the correct talent to the correct clients. In other words, you aren’t just entering a deep, dark cyber tunnel of vague opportunities, there’s actually a real person answering your emails, checking over your profile and giving you advice on the other side. I highly, highly recommend it!

Embrace flexi-time

For the first three months of freelancing, I felt so terribly guilty about the fact that I wasn’t heading to the office like everyone else that I got up at 6am every morning and kept myself busy with work and related matters till well after sunset. I guess I felt like I had to be super-duper busy to earn this strange and newfound freedom.

Only about four months in, I allowed myself to consider an alternative approach. I’ve been learning how to feel comfortable with shaving off an hour or two here or there to go to the beach on a beautiful day or indulge in some other sort of leisure activity that didn’t involve a screen, working in those hours again a bit later or the next day. It takes getting used to, but if you can get it right, I imagine you can get pretty close to living the dream.

Be a Yes Man or Woman

I’m sure there comes a time in every freelance career that you have the luxury of saying ‘no’ to jobs. Well, needless to say, I’m very much not there yet. And happy about it too!

One of the things I love most about freelancing so far is the randomness and variety it has brought to my life. I’ve written copy for fertility clinics and flight booking sites, captioned images of a Formula 1 event and compiled an Insider’s Guide for a local paper. Throughout I have also been able to pursue my passion for travel writing and really hope to do more of that in the new year.

It has been invigorating and exciting and I can’t wait for the rest!

Hustle, hustle, hustle

The most important thing to remember about freelancing is that you are indeed your own boss and therefore also the only one who can give yourself a raise, a promotion or a new direction. Opportunities are precious, don’t let them go by. If you meet someone with whom you can collaborate to advance your career and add value to theirs, tell them! Follow up and check in. If you stumble upon a great idea, pursue it with all your might and work a little every day to make it a reality.

I’ve found that almost 80% of my work is following leads, building contacts and making the most of my network. The other 20% is the physical fruit of this labour.

Seek inspiration and wisdom

Read. Go outside. Do yoga. Run. Play with your pet. Drink wine with your friends. Work from a coffee shop for an afternoon. Chat to your parents. Spend time with your love. Follow your bliss.

Also, spend less time aimlessly scrolling through Facebook and more time reading articles, listening to podcasts and watching TED Talks that are actually going to add value to your career (and life).

Here are a few of my favourite sources of wisdom and inspiration at the moment:

Brain Pickings – a website filled with sublime thoughts and theories from an array of bright minds and souls, both departed and present.

Medium – A one stop source for well-written and -researched articles about everything under the sun. There’s a strong slant toward analytical self-help type listicles e.g. ‘30 Behaviours that will make you Unstoppable’ and unusual adventures into the human psyche e.g. ‘A love letter from your fat friend’ and ‘How my Peter Pan syndrome landed me in prison for 10 years’.

Dear Sugar Radio – advice on all aspects of life from Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond in podcast form. I absolutely love it for the simple reason that it reminds me how everyone is fighting their own battle and we’re all more similar than we are different.

Magic Lessons – another podcast, this one presented by Elizabeth Gilbert to help people harness the power of their creativity. The advice she has given others – especially about managing your fear – has hit the mark for me numerous times.

The RobCast – a brilliant podcast by Rob Bell, exploring the depths of spirituality and examining the miraculous workings of the universe. I can’t tell you how many of these episodes have brought a fresh perspective and have helped soothe frayed nerves.

So, there you have it… a few early day reflections on freelancing. Here’s to keeping the hustle alive and moving ever onward and upward.

Nadia Krige

If you would like to make contact with Nadia, you can do so via her profile on Freelance Cape Town. You can also follow her and her freelance journey on Gypsified, Nadia’s personal blog.

Nadia Krige