Going Solo

Cameron Rambert, Founder & CEO of Freelance Australia

November 22, 2019 Cameron Rambert Season 1 Episode 2
Going Solo
Cameron Rambert, Founder & CEO of Freelance Australia
Chapters
Going Solo
Cameron Rambert, Founder & CEO of Freelance Australia
Nov 22, 2019 Season 1 Episode 2
Cameron Rambert

With the rise of the gig and freelance economies comes a need for representation, learning, and connection. That's where Cameron Rambert and Freelance Australia come into play.

Cameron is the Founder & CEO of Australia's largest and most active not-for-profit associations that helps freelancers and sole traders connect with like-minded peers, learn how to better their solo tradecraft, earn more for the work they do and build their profile and business.

We deep-dive into Cameron's journey and discuss all things related to being a successful freelancer or sole trader.

Show Notes Transcript

With the rise of the gig and freelance economies comes a need for representation, learning, and connection. That's where Cameron Rambert and Freelance Australia come into play.

Cameron is the Founder & CEO of Australia's largest and most active not-for-profit associations that helps freelancers and sole traders connect with like-minded peers, learn how to better their solo tradecraft, earn more for the work they do and build their profile and business.

We deep-dive into Cameron's journey and discuss all things related to being a successful freelancer or sole trader.

Nicholas Beames:

Today we're joined by Cameron Rambert, the founder and CEO of Freelance Australia. Cameron, welcome.

Cameron Rambert:

Hey Nick, how are you?

Nicholas Beames:

Excellent, thank you. Let's deep dive into what is Freelance Australia? How did it come about? Why did it come about? Where you've come from and the journey? And then let's then get into the exciting stuff of where you taking it in the future.

Cameron Rambert:

Yeah, for sure.

Cameron Rambert:

Back in 2013, I was working for a very large ad agency based in Melbourne and it didn't take me long to realize I didn't really fit in that environment that was 200 plus employees. That was part of a much bigger consortium of brands as well. And long story short, I was fired by my direct report who basically gave me the feedback saying I'm a little bit too entrepreneurial for this place. And I'm a bit on certain about how to take such feedback cause entrepreneurial-ism you'd expect is a good thing. Decided to prove them right. And I went freelance for the first time. It took me a little while to get up and running. I had established networks, I had skills but you couldn't just walk out and charge $300 now like you did at your past job.

Cameron Rambert:

It took me quite a steep learning curve to understand the dynamics of freelancing and the nuances of building a business. And back in 2014 it was incredibly socially isolating cause my friends and family thought I was crazy. Thought freelancing was just a fancy way to find employed and decided to start a meet up group, which was a type of way of trying to connect with others, similar to myself who might, regardless of their background or skillset, all had similar challenges. And that's sort of how Freelance Australia was born but back then it was Freelance Melbourne, which is a networking group.

Nicholas Beames:

Brilliant. And how long ago was this?

Cameron Rambert:

This is back in 2014 or late 2014. It was about a year and a half after I started freelancing full time for the first time. I had freelance before ever since the age of 16. I was 25 back then when I was fired. But I had been freelancing on and off since the age of 16, so this wasn't a new experience. But it was new to actually have things like responsibilities cause I was living away from home and have bills to pay and I was doing it full time. And that community that we started eight months after I left my job grew quite rapidly. It turns out that a lot of people were entering the freelance space. And that was driven by two key demands. The first was people wanted to freelance because of the professional independence and the lifestyle attractiveness of it all.

Cameron Rambert:

But also more and more companies wanted to hire freelancers because freelancers are at the cutting edge of their industry in most cases. And it's far more productive to work with a freelancer than say, bring on a full time employee, which is quite expensive. And then you've got other sort of liabilities around that. So that community, Freelance Melbourne exploded into what is now two and a half thousand just in Melbourne. And it was growing week by week. It started to manage itself. And after a short while, we kept hearing the same challenges pop up over and over and over again. And I took it upon myself to formalize an entity with some other members of the community. And that's where Freelance Australia was born. It was essentially an entity designed to - it's an offer profit.

Cameron Rambert:

It's designed to sort of advocate on the behalf of freelancers and their needs in this changing economy. But at the same time also provide education. The education typically revolves around finding clients and also making their money work for them.

Nicholas Beames:

You talk about needs and challenges. What are the needs and challenges of freelancers?

Cameron Rambert:

I can pretty much say there's quite a lot as you can imagine. And just like any other entrepreneurial venture, it is a leap of faith and it is quite difficult to do well. But it all really comes down to two categories. The first is how to make money, to be as blunt as possible, even if it's just for survival reasons. And the second part of that is, once they know how to find clients and generate a revenue and turn over a modest profit, sometimes the next category is, they got to know how to manage their money.

Cameron Rambert:

The ebbs and flows of a freelance enterprise is quite roller coaster-like. And the next part is how do they actually start building assets? How do they start managing their cashflow? Because I like to think that the abundance of clients is not the biggest problem freelancers have because when you have too much work, it actually amplifies all the existing problems you do have. So that's one of the common misconceptions that a lot of freelancers make. They think they need to find more clients when what they really need to do is find better quality clients and then manage themselves better behind the scenes.

Nicholas Beames:

And your organization Freelance Australia, you mentioned before, provides educational resources. Talk to us about that.

Cameron Rambert:

Yeah, sure. For the most part, it's always been a social group.

Cameron Rambert:

But moving forward, we're really doubling down on the education component is something that a lot of freelancers are really craving for and thirsting for. It's taken a bit of time because for the most part, freelancers don't know what they don't know. And moving forward, we're looking to develop a whole series of courses and eBooks and other sort of practical tools so that they can actually grow their business. We want to become the destination where freelancers learn how to earn. And part of that strategy moving forward is a bit of a reboot of our website and in a whole new campaign and most interestingly we're actually bringing on a new board member, someone with an incredible amount of experience in the gig economy space. He's been a part of a lot of incredible companies, up and coming, and also I'm looking at him right now.

Nicholas Beames:

Oh, that might be me!

Cameron Rambert:

It is! Nicholas Beames. Nicholas Beames, thank you. Obviously bringing me on the podcast, but thank you for also putting up your hand to join our board. I mean, we're absolutely wrapped. I think the freelance community will get a huge deal of value out of it.

Nicholas Beames:

Pleasure Cam. It's a pleasure. For the benefit of our listeners, we've known each other for a few years now. And both, in different ways. Me from an investment perspective and also from my role as chief executive of Rounded and other organizations that I'm involved in. I have always been passionate about the gig economy and giving people in the gig economy, who are freelancers, sole traders, self-employed, the tools they need to manage the work they get. And obviously the tools to learn, as you say, to learn to earn.

Cameron Rambert:

So I've had a lot to learn from you.

Nicholas Beames:

So I look forward to being on the board. About this board and the future of Freelance Australia, what's the plan?

Cameron Rambert:

What's the roadmap? Well, our goal in the next five years is very, very audacious. It's to try and reach 100,000 members in the next five years. And we are about to launch our new membership platform probably around early autumn next year. I think it's probably a reasonable expectation. And part of doing that though we're actually ramping up our content development and our course development at the moment. So the first course that's going to come out, you can actually check it out earlier, it's coming out in a few weeks. It's called "Zero to 10 K in 80 days", which I think is a pretty admirable objective for most new freelancers to try and attain. And I basically walk through them step by step on how to actually do that through finding clients and then putting in the mechanisms necessary to develop a consistent and repeatable system of finding work.

Nicholas Beames:

That's pretty appealing. Let's just unpack that, "Zero to 10 K in 80 days". The question is, is this for someone who is freshly fired as you so proudly once were? Or any other type of individual who is going out for themselves for the first time and saying whatever I do for a living

Nicholas Beames:

This is how I can hopefully earn 10 K in the first 80 days.

Cameron Rambert:

Look, it's open to anyone who, I guess, is new to freelancing, but in particular those who are struggling at the moment of freelance. If they've got that sense of urgency, I think it'll really, really help them, most of all.

Nicholas Beames:

What are the key tenants of the program?

Cameron Rambert:

The fundamental principle is econ, it need to overcompensate a lot in the early stages. There's what I prescribed might seem a little bit bleedingly obvious to some people, but that's sort of part of the beauty of it. It's actually not overly technical or difficult. You've actually just got to be really consistent and focused in how you penetrating certain audiences. How can I give you a bit of a rundown? So I guess it starts out with just sort of getting your mindset right because a lot of freelancers when they first start out and they start finding it's challenging they sort of started doubting their initial instincts to go freelance and the first way they get.

Nicholas Beames:

I imagine that motivation is a play.

Cameron Rambert:

Absolutely. They've got people whispering in their ears. They're looking at their bank account. And they think that's a lot of reinforcement as to why they shouldn't freelance. But it's all about realizing that it's about a bigger picture. It took me a good 18 months to two years to really start finding my groove. And that seems to be the consistent pattern for a lot of freelancers. I mean, it does change depending on the particular industry you're in or the type of competency you might have in your current field. But typically I find it's between one and two years to actually really feel any kind of a consistent way moving forward. And next to that is actually getting hyper clear on who you're serving and why. That's probably the biggest thing that trips up most freelancers. One of the things that they try to do is they try to speak to all audiences at the same time.

Cameron Rambert:

They' don't want to pigeonhole themselves presumably. Whereas actually sometimes pigeonholing yourselves is the creative constraint. You need to really penetrate through.

Nicholas Beames:

Focus on your strengths.

Cameron Rambert:

That's it. And it's also really understanding who they're serving. So if I was to say, who is your target customer? They might be as broad and vague in saying small business when that really doesn't say anything because there's a lot of small businesses out there and you're just one and many suppliers are also doing the same thing. So what I like to encourage them to do is to really peel back the lights, the onion, until I know with absolute certainty who is the best audience for them and why. So for example when I started freelancing, I say I was a digital strategist an I don't like using the term growth hacker, but that's essentially what I was back then as well.

Cameron Rambert:

It was very much on the tools and I found a preference and strength working with tech startups who had been venture funded. So when I described my target audience, I didn't just say startups, I said I work with startup founders who had been venture funded, who want to work with an agency but can't justify the expense. So I step in as the interim CFO essentially and sort of help build the system. So it's really, really specific. But you can imagine as soon as I did that it really narrowed who I needed to talk to and how quickly I could actually access them because I was actually speaking the language that they were looking for as opposed to just some generic title like digital strategist startups. Right? So that's the focus and attention that I try to beat down into this course early up.

Cameron Rambert:

And then following that, it's all about practical application. Like how do you go and find your audience? In what settings do you go to meetups? Do you talk to them face to face? I find that face to face is usually the best mechanisms for finding work or at least closing deals because freelancers suffer from the issue of verifiable credibility, which is my way of saying trust, right? People want to verify that you've done what you've done and that you can do what you can do. So if you can present yourself face to face in most cases, you can establish that trust very quickly as opposed to an online marketplace where you're trying to bid for jobs.

Nicholas Beames:

Will and is it in your plans for Freelance Australia - the reboot and our goal of 100,000 members within three years, is that verifiable trust an aspect of maybe having a profile on Freelance Australia and being verified by Freelance Australia?

Cameron Rambert:

Yes, absolutely. I think a certification of sorts is something we've been talking about and trying to work with the existing marketplaces out there and also, certainly the professional social networks such as LinkedIn. For the reason that we're not interested in creating another marketplace, but we are interested in working with them to help mitigate some of the risks that both clients and freelancers have. I mean, you're both two strangers, you meet each other for the first time. And if you really go down any way, and we find that most clients, on the other side actually have more negative experiences than freelancers do. And that really just shows that there's a huge disconnect in expectations and expectation management even from the freelancer side as well, which is always interesting to see how people respond.

Nicholas Beames:

So that disconnect indicates that there's, as you say, [inaudible]

Nicholas Beames:

a gap between finding quality talent and quality talent being available.

Cameron Rambert:

Yeah, definitely. And I also think because the freelance space is exploding so rapidly, the ability to sit and manage expectations, create a brief in the first place from the client's perspective is a skill that they've never really had before, having to be clear in their instructions. But even as for a freelancer, trying to communicate back a reverse brief is equally an unfamiliar venue to freelancing because that's essentially just saying what the brief is in your own words and trying to get on the same page and a lot of that doesn't really happen. People just sort of assume that they know what the other person's talking about without actually doing the necessary work to actually bridge that communication gap.

Nicholas Beames:

Well, Cam, I won't take up the rest of your day. What we'll do is we'll finish up here by saying thanks for coming on the podcast and thanks for inviting me to join the board. I look forward to it. Now, I'm a big hairy audacious goal. Our bag of 100,000 members in this community within the next three to five years is definitely an achievable goal because there is very little, if any, top of a resource out there and people need it. So I wish you all the best for your future endeavors and I'll look forward to being part of it. Thanks for coming on.

Cameron Rambert:

No, thank you, Nick, It's been my pleasure.

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