Pip Jamieson: How to benefit from a real freelancing community

By Zsofia Szendrei
Events Correspondent

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Are you a freelancer working in the creative industries? Are you looking to collaborate, but not sure where to start? A community like Pip Jamieson’s The Dots might be the place to start.

The Dots was founded by Pip Jamieson in 2014 to help creative professionals connect and find new opportunities. The platform has grown enormously since its launch, and now helps hundreds of thousands of freelancers across the UK to truly express themselves and promote their work beyond the confines of an A4 CV.

Ahead of her talk at National Freelancers Day (NFD) later this week, we caught up with Pip to find out about how and why she founded her nationwide network – and how it helps freelancers.

So, Pip, what is The Dots and why did you decide to set it up?

The whole idea came about while I was working in the creative industries. I was surrounded by incredible people who were adopting very different career paths (and in many ways had very different value sets) to the traditional white-collar workforce.

Our careers were much more fluid: we were increasingly working on a project-by-project basis, had side-hustles, working freelance or adopting portfolio careers. LinkedIn just wasn’t working for us, so I wanted to invent a new professional networking solution that was fit for the twenty-first century. One that helped ‘no-collar professionals’ – creatives, freelancers and entrepreneurs – build their personal brand, network and connect to dream gigs. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Dots is all about promoting and championing diverse talent and the work they create

What bound us all together is we were coming up with ideas and building teams around us to execute those ideas. At a very basic level, the core difference between The Dots and LinkedIn is that instead of promoting yourself with a CV, people post projects and credit the whole team behind those projects. It is almost like a community-driven IMDB.

For example, you could post the latest issue of this magazine, and credit the full team that brought it to life, from the editor to the writers, stylists, photographers, producers and so on. It’s a recognition that creativity is a team sport – you can be a rockstar creative, but if you’re not supported by an amazing team, that idea is hard to bring to life.

In 2014 I sunk everything I learned into starting The Dots, including my houseboat, Horace. Fast forward four years and we have more than 100,000 members and over 10,000 brands using us to hire full-time and freelance talent. It’s been a lot of hard graft, but my goodness it’s been worth it!

How do you think The Dots has helped the self-employed community?

Countless amazing freelancers find work on The Dots each day, which makes me so happy. However, what I love most is how freelancers use The Dots to support each other through our ‘ask the community’ feature, which is a bit like an online forum. 

In the end, freelancing can sometimes be quite lonely, so it’s lovely to see people using The Dots to support each other on the journey and helping each other with everything from copyright issues to collaboration call-outs.  

You have said you’re keen to promote diversity among freelancers and the creative industries. Why do you think this issue is so important?

During my time working at MTV, I experienced how dangerous a homogenous workforce can be for creative thinking. As with most creative businesses, we hired freelancers via word of mouth, resulting in an inherent lack of diversity – our creative output became stale.

If we’re all the same, how can we think differently. This is one of the reasons I founded The Dots, to help democratise the creative sector and make it accessible to everyone.

There is now endless research showing that diversity (in all its guises) is great for businesses, innovation and creativity. For me, LinkedIn always felt like it encouraged homogeneity. Being a dyslexic female tech founder, I never felt I fitted in in the corporate space. What I’ve come to realise is it’s our differences that make us brilliant. 

The Dots is all about promoting and championing diverse talent and the work they create. Our amazing community is currently 68 per cent female, 31 per cent BAME, 16 per cent LGBT+ and we also do a lot of work supporting disabled, neurodiverse (dyslexia, autism, ADHD etc.) and disadvantaged talent. 

Finally, you are one of the keynote speakers at National Freelancers Day. We don’t want to ruin the surprise, but can you give us a quick taste of what we can expect from you on the day?

Drawing on a wealth of research, analytics and data from over 400,000 freelancers and creators on The Dots, I’ll be sharing some tips on what the most successful freelancers are doing to thrive in the booming no-collar market. 

National Freelancers Days takes place on Thursday (20 June) in Kings Place, London. You can find out more details and book tickets on the NFD2019 event page.

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