Freelancer Away Day top takeaways: an interview with Sarah Haines

Sarah is a graphic designer providing creative design solutions for public sector organisations, charities and B2B companies. She came to last year’s Freelancer Away Day and is booked to come again this year. Keen to understand exactly what appealed to Sarah about the event in the first place, and what convinced her to come back again for another year, I asked a few questions…

What hopes or expectations did you have for the away day before the event?

I liked the idea of dedicating a whole day to business planning. In the normal course of a week or month, it’s easy to prioritise other immediate demands and client work over my own business development, so setting aside a day seemed a really good discipline. Also, going up to Newcastle meant I was away from home and completely away from distractions.

How did the day help you to reflect on the previous year?

The first half was dedicated to reviewing the previous year, looking at the highlights and lowlights. By separating these into two columns and reviewing each month, I could see the ebbs and flows of the year. This was useful in not only showing the growth and development over the year, but also aided my planning for next year so I could start to build ideas and actions to counter any low points.

How did the day help you to plan for the year ahead?

Previewing the year ahead was certainly harder than reviewing the past one. At the end of the session I felt I only had a loose plan for the next year. However, I’ve continued to return to the workbook during the year and fill in more detail as each goal develops.

What have you done differently this year as a result of attending the away day?

I’ve ensured that planning is a regular activity. Reviewing and previewing on a monthly basis has helped to build a full picture of the year and anticipate any pressures, fluctuations or recurring issues. 

What impact has attending the away day had for you or your business this year?

At Q3 I’ve already achieved two of the goals that I set out for the year and I’m on my way to achieving the third one. It’s also helped me to keep a check on my work/life balance.

Can you sum up the day in three words?

Reflective. Insightful. Supportive

What else do you think a prospective away day attendee should know?

That this is a calm, supportive environment. There’s no pressure to share, perform or compete. It’s activity-based rather than listening to a lecture. An attendee determines their own path and goals that are unique to them and their business.

There are three options to join a Freelancer Away Day for 2023/24, in London, Newcastle upon Tyne, or online.

about emma

I am a coach and facilitator helping people to pause, reflect and make conscious choices about what comes next. In my writing I explore themes of personal development, reflective practice and what it means to live well.