were very much a pilot for the provinces. “Speakers included Hina Pandya on

writing travel e-books, Peter Jukes on byline and crowdfunded journalism, Garry Cook on using photojournalism as performance art and David Prior on how to make a good income from running a hyperlocal news site. “Around 35 people attended,

Beauty of salon treatments

Freelance salons, offering expert advice and chances to network, are proving successful, says Jenny Sims


reelances are the fastest growing

membership sector of the NUJ and more should be done to meet

their needs. Freelance salons were launched in recognition of this. An initiative from former Freelance

Industrial Council (FIC) and London Freelance Branch (LFB) member Hina Pandya, the first salon was held one evening four years ago. It included speakers and chances to network with the aim of opening up ideas – if not doors - to new work opportunities and ways of making journalism pay. It was conducted in a less formal way than a conference. Although Pandya had no problem persuading the FIC to support the event, getting them to agree to the name ‘salon’ was another matter. Traditionalists wanted to call it a forum. A vote had to be taken – the diehards

8 | theJournalist

lost and the salonistas won comfortably. Tickets for the first salon, at Headland House on October 15 2015, cost £10 to NUJ members and £20 to non-members. Pandya recalls: “It was an informal

evening event, with snacks and wine and soft drinks, where people could relax after work and feel comfortable networking. We had two speakers, one on start-ups, and kept the numbers small, and it was a sell-out.” It even made money. Word of its success spread and, the

following year, Pandya helped Manchester and Cardiff NUJ branches launch salons, and spoke at both. Manchester’s was an evening event held at the Quaker Friends’ Meeting House, and Cardiff’s on a Saturday with lunch at the Marriott Hotel (the latter on the same day as a rugby international – a mistake to be avoided).

Manchester freelance Louise Bolotin, who organised their event, said: “We

“ ”

Many had found it really inspiring and I suspect plenty left the event fizzing with ideas

including from branches as far away as Birmingham. We had great feedback, with everyone asking for another salon event in the future. Many had found it really inspiring and I suspect plenty left the event fizzing with ideas.” Salons are now a regular feature of the LFB calendar, and the Cardiff branch, in response to demand, is running its fourth salon, entitled Specialise or Diversify, on October 12. So successful have the Wales salons been that the Welsh executive council, which part funds them, has agreed they should be an annual event organised with NUJ Training Wales. Inspired by stories from the salons and Dublin’s freelance forum, Anton McCabe, Northern Ireland FIC member and NEC member, organised a Freelance Matters evening for his Derry North West Ireland branch. “It went well,” he recalls. “It was on the

night of the normal branch meeting. Freya McClements and Paul Gosling, spoke about their experiences as freelances and how they made a living. There was a larger attendance than usual and, most importantly, several freelance members who are not regular attenders came plus a couple of non-members who we are working at signing up.” Given the union is seeking ideas on

recruitment and retention, the impact of salons should not be overlooked. As well as attracting members who would not usually attend a branch meeting, they bring in new people. And they could in future offer possibilities of developing mentoring. Pamela Morton, NUJ national

organiser, freelance and Wales, said: “The salons have been really popular, bringing together a mix of training and hearing from experts, with all- important networking opportunities. Many freelance members are isolated and we know that most are looking for training at an affordable price.”

Jenny Sims is Wales rep on the NUJ’s Freelance Industrial Council, freelance officer of Cardiff & South East Wales branch and a member of the Welsh executive @Jenny__Sims


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