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Being a freelancer and a parent is a constant balancing act. “I downloaded Starling on a day I had my daughter with me,” says freelance graphic designer Frankie Tortora (pictured above). “I managed to set up the bank account with her screaming on my hip - it literally took six minutes. I was just blown away by how amazing it was.”

Frankie’s Starling business account is for her online community and blog, Doing It For The Kids (DIFTK). She set it up in November 2016 as a space for freelance parents to share advice and experiences. She found out about Starling through the DIFTK Facebook group. “Business banking comes up a lot and somebody was raving about Starling,” she says.

An online space for freelance parents

Freelance parents use DIFTK for everything from tips on tax returns to connecting with other parents. It helps them look past the ’perfect’ parenting Instagram posts and provides support to be a good enough parent.

Here’s what Frankie wants members of DIFTK to feel comfortable and confident doing within the community:

I want you to ask questions. I want you to share your experience, skills and know-how. I want you to help other freelance parents out. I want you to feel you can be honest and open. I want you to make genuine connections and friends.
Frankie Tortora

Frankie started DIFTK while she was pregnant with her first child. She had all sorts of questions: How much time should I take off? How do I manage ongoing client work? What statutory maternity pay am I entitled to?

A mother holds a baby who is smiling with a book
DITFK is an online community for freelance parents, Photo credit: Jeremy Freedman

“I took to the internet. There were lots of blogs by people trying to sell you something or training courses for new mums starting businesses. But as a freelancer, I already had a business. Free tips and tricks didn’t exist.”

She launched DIFTK during the six months she took off after having her son. She asked multiple freelance parents to contribute blog posts and added her own thoughts and lessons learned. “I knew that I needed it and therefore somebody else would too. But I never imagined how many people were craving it,” she says. There are 11,000 people who follow her freelance journey on Instagram and her Facebook group has more than 4,500 members.

Face to face meet-ups

In 2019, Frankie organised the first meet-ups for her online community. “We bring our pre-school kids, have some tea, eat a lot of party rings, talk to each other.” The events in London are hosted at Huckletree, a co-working space that offers babysitting as part of its monthly membership fee for parents. She’s looking to organise more meet-ups outside of London in 2020.

A collection of parents smile together
Frankie organises DIFTK meet-ups for freelance parents, Photo credit: Jeremy Freedman

“Isolation is the biggest thing. Everybody I know wherever they are, in a city or a tiny village, is struggling with that. It’s a killer combo having small children and working for yourself - both are isolating in different ways. The ’It takes a village to raise a child’ thing doesn’t exist so much any more - people live far away from their family, parents aren’t always around to help.”

Her advice is to:

  • Come and join my community.
  • Try to get out to networking events, it’s not for everyone but it can help.
  • Listen to podcasts - it can feel like you’re with people, like they’re talking to you.

Her favourite podcasts include ’Is this working?’ with Anna Codrea-Rado and Tiffany Philippou, ’Letters From A Hopeful Creative’ with Sara Tasker and Jen Carrington, and ’No Bull Business Women’ with Sarah Akwisombe.

She launched the DIFTK weekly podcast in March 2019. She co-hosts it with Steve Holland — freelance audio and video creator and dad of two. “It’s the water cooler chat that you might get in an office but on a podcast. We answer questions from fellow freelance parents and try to give people some advice,” she says.

Turning a blog into a business

When Frankie started DIFTK, it was a side hustle. But today, it’s a growing part of both her workload and income. “I needed to send an invoice for sponsorship money and get paid so I tried to open an account with a major high street bank. The process was clunky. It involved a phone call with an agent and then they didn’t have an appointment for two weeks,” she says.

A collection of parents laugh together
Starling was recommended to Frankie by other freelance parents on DIFTK, Photo credit: Jeremy Freedman

Her Starling business account was set up in minutes. “I could use the account straight away and then the card arrived a couple of days later. It’s been really fast to process payments and it works with FreeAgent which I use for accounting. The online banking feature is also a massive bonus.”

Advice for creative freelancers

Frankie became a freelance graphic designer after she was made redundant. “I used to work in Arts Admin… when I knew I was being made redundant, I signed up for a night course in graphic design and went straight into freelance work off the back of that,” she explains.

“People, particularly women, really hold themselves back by thinking they need loads of training but my approach to everything in life is - go for it, learn on the job and make it better as you go.”

For those choosing to quit their job and go freelance, she advises building up some savings. “Have some savings to fall back on. Give yourself six months - it takes time to build up any business so make sure you’ve got enough to see you through that. Don’t expect miracles straight off the bat. Patience and persistence are key.”

Learn more about Doing It For The Kids.

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