Sophie Cross, 38, has had all sorts of business ideas, from sausage and mash cafés to flower arranging workshops. The idea she’s turned into a reality is based on her own ten years of experience as a freelance copywriter and marketer. In 2021, she launched Freelancer Magazine, a quarterly print magazine for people who’ve chosen this flexible form of work.

Freelancer Magazine is designed for all sorts of job areas from dog walkers to writers, translators to drag queens. A freelancer is generally someone who is self-employed and works on one-off or short-term projects, rather than working for a single employer for a salary.

Sophie is based in London and uses Starling to manage the finances for her magazine. The latest issue, published in February 2022, is divided into four sections: going solo, standing out, scaling up and switching off. It includes articles on winning your first clients, setting up a pension and starting a newsletter.

Each edition is designed to be kept and dipped back into. “I think a print magazine gives you more of a sense of being in a club. We also want to give people a way of spending time away from their screens.”

Connecting with freelancers

The magazine is rooted in the freelance community. Sophie first discovered online groups of freelance copywriters on Twitter. “From 11am to 11.30am on a Friday, there’s a live Twitter chat called #ContentClubUK. Someone hosts it and you can post questions about copy or freelancing - it’s the friendliest bunch of people.”

She went on to join other communities, which she found to be a huge source of support, especially at the start of the pandemic. At that point, Sophie typically wrote travel articles for companies in the hospitality industry, so the demand for her work dropped hugely when travel restrictions were introduced.

In the early lockdowns, she created courses for freelancers who wanted to market themselves more effectively and find their niche. She now offers these courses through the Freelancer Magazine website.

Two freelance communities Sophie recommends are Being Freelance and Freelance Heroes. She also suggests that parents who are freelance join Doing It For The Kids.

Kickstarting the magazine

Freelancer Magazine was initially funded through a crowdfunding campaign. “It was a great way to get the community involved as early as possible,” says Sophie.

“We hit 150% of our sales order target and sold 1,000 copies of the magazine before it even existed. We also sold all of our advertising for Issues one and two.” The magazine can be bought through a subscription or a one-off purchase through the website. It includes paid advertisements from companies that offer services related to freelancers, such as website design.

Sophie Cross, founder of Freelancer magazine

Contributors to the crowdfunding campaign were asked to vote on branding and the business logo. Sophie has continued to involve readers now that the magazine has launched. In each edition, she includes emails from readers. She’s keen to highlight their favourite stories and pass on encouragement to others in the community.

A bank that gets freelancing

Sophie opened her Starling business account in June 2021, just after launching the magazine. “Starling was recommended by so many different freelancers and my accountant,” she says.

“It feels like Starling gets our flexible approach to work - you don’t have to go into a branch to change your address or set something up. I also really like how I can go and assign costs and see how much I’ve spent on different areas of the business.”

For her online accounting software, she uses FreeAgent, a service she’s connected to her business account through the Starling Marketplace. “Starling is easy, friendly and intuitive.”

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