In 1455, two sides of the same Plantagenet family decided to play a 30-year game of musical chairs over the English throne.

On one side of the family was the House of Lancaster, represented by a red rose and on the other was the House of York, represented by a white rose. They called the ongoing game, the War of the Roses.

Every time one side was in the hot seat, the other side wasn’t happy and so the game would continue over and over until eventually, they held a massive game called the Battle of Bosworth (in Leicestershire — neutral ground) in 1485, which the Lancastrians won because (I’m assuming) Henry VII was sitting in the throne when the music stopped.

I’m simplifying things here a bit, of course. The War of the Roses was a full-on civil war game of musical chairs. Perhaps the most serious game ever played.

It cemented a rivalry that exists today.

Except that, rather than charging at each other on horseback, Lancashire and Yorkshire try to one-up each other in cricket and football and rugby league and things like who’s got the best rain and whose chips are better.

But, in a turn of events that may well have poor old Richard III turning in his grave, me from Lancashire (Colne) has been collaborating with Frankly Green + Webb from Yorkshire (Sheffield). And you know what, it’s been wonderful.

As much as the enjoyment of the work, it’s been beneficial to my mental health.

It’s enjoyable as a freelancer, being able to set your own pace and work without office politics going on all around you. But it’s also lonely at times. Especially so in these times, when we’re isolated from friends and family.

It’s been nice to feel like part of a team, still working alone, but having colleagues to bounce ideas off, share wins with and talk through struggles as a group.

One of the great things about freelancers is that we’re flexible. We can bring our skills to all kinds of projects and teams as and when they’re needed. And we come with knowledge and insights of how things work that you can’t get in-house.

We make very good collaborators. I think it would benefit freelancers and agencies if we all did a bit more of it.

If it can work between folks from either side of the Pennine divide, it can work for anyone.

What happened when Lancashire met Yorkshire (Part 1)

Frankly Green + Webb are digital experience experts for the cultural sector.

I’ve been working with them to generate insights for the likes of Glasgow Museums, Imperial War Museums and the RAF Museum.

Here’s a case study that details how I got on…  

Read: Understanding digital experiences

What happened when Lancashire met Yorkshire (Part 2)

Because cultural organisations haven’t been able to open for the best part of a year, they’ve had to rely more on web and social content to stay connected with their audiences.

Building on the research we’ve already done together for museums, I’ve been collaborating with FG+W on Insight for Change — an affordable wrap-around support package that includes audience research, data and insight.

If you’re a cultural or heritage organisation, it might be of interest to you. 

Check it out: Insight for Change

What happened when Lancashire met Yorkshire (Part 3)

The third part in this ongoing (566-year rivalry healing) relationship is me banging on about surveys and data in a guest post on the FG+W blog.

If you fancy running an online survey at some point, there are some tips in there that should help.

Read: Six questions to ask yourself when designing an online survey

Other interesting stuff

Census 2021

A date for your diary: Sunday 21 March.

That’s when the next census for households in England and Wales takes place.

It takes about 10 minutes for the household questions and 10 minutes per person to complete and helps organisations make decisions on planning and funding public services.

This time around it’ll also help the Office for National Statistics improve their understanding of how the pandemic has affected people.

It’s a good thing to get involved with, but you also don’t have a choice. You’ll need to complete the census by law.

How to get started being freelance

If you’re new to freelancing, thinking of going freelance or wondering if you're doing it right, Steve Folland has put everything he’s learned from chatting to hundreds of freelancers for the Being Freelance podcast into a brand new course.

As is the way with everything Steve does, it’s dead accessible. 52 short videos of 2-5 minutes in length. So you can fit it in when you can.

I wish something like this was around when I started.

Gav’s on Twitter

Gavin Peacock of More Than Solutions blog post fame (?!) has taken PRICS to Twitter to document his freelance journey there. He’s already had an account suspended before even posting a tweet.

A new website is on the way as well. He’ll keep you updated on social. I’ll keep you updated here.

The best standing desks

I’ve invested in a standing desk converter. I’m using it to stand up for calls and meetings to try and sort my posture out a bit. It’s supposed to be good for running form too, so it’ll probably give me an excuse to buy more trainers.

I’ve only been using mine for a couple of days, so it’s too early to recommend but there are loads of them about. This article reviews some of the main options.

Freelance soundtrack

Julia Stone from Angus & Julia Stone and Matt Berninger from The National have collaborated, what’s not to love?

“This song is about how everything transforms and moves; even though you feel so shitty at one point, it might shift into something new,” says Julia.

Pretty much sums up the life of a freelancer.

This is the acoustic version. Minus Matt.

That was a long one. Thanks for sticking with it.

I’ll speak to you again around the same time next month.

Go well.  


P.S. If you enjoyed this newsletter and are confident recommending it won’t damage your reputation, a share would be lovely. Cheers. 

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