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Advice From A Graduate Entrepreneur

Rachael Oku shares some advice

Rachael Oku, founder of Creative-Bloc, sheds light on her inspiration for setting up a business after graduating and explains how the company helps freelance writers…

I’m a journo grad of sorts: I studied fashion promotion at university and specialised in journalism, then got sidetracked. Before I graduated I was offered a job in PR and thinking about the financial security, I accepted it. After all, when you get offered a decent job you take it, right?

In the years since I’ve realised the importance of saying no, and as a freelance professional this is especially true. Not everything is as good or as simple as it might initially sound.

A small part of me wishes I’d stuck to my convictions in pursuit of a so called ‘dream job’, however a larger part of me realises that I learned more by going the long way round, and now I’m certain journalism, and writing in general, is something I’m meant to pursue.

Working as a freelance writer and editor for the past three years, I’ve searched high and low for an adequate support network combined with a job site, and haven’t found much out there worth getting excited about.

As I’m sure you know all too well, when starting out as a freelance journalist opportunities are few and far between and it can seem like everything and everyone is against you.

Of course it isn’t like that in reality, but without guidance and contacts in your area of expertise, forging a career and recognising the good opportunities from the bad is challenging.

Earlier this year I set about creating a platform that combined the resources I sought. I knew that the business I wanted to set up couldn’t just be about making money, it had to stand for something and hopefully help a few people make contacts and find their feet along the way.

My initial inspiration was to create a place where my freelance writer friends and I could find work and keep 100% of the commission. The project has evolved somewhat since then, but maintains the same ideals.

Launched in July 2012, Creative-Bloc is a social enterprise that functions as a network and online membership club for freelance writers and editors. Sharing advice, industry tips, news and global job opportunities, Creative-Bloc offers writers the commercial advice and support necessary to succeed in a competitive freelance environment.

Aimed at two primary audiences: writers can be working in any industry; while employers vary from print and online magazines to publishers, charities and niche brands.

Once registered members, writers can create a profile (which will be indexed in our directory), interact with fellow writers and employers, access all editorial content and browse the job listings. Writers can also promote their projects (such as a new book release) through the blog and contribute articles with the aim of sharing their experiences with other writers.

As the editor, I’m eager to hear about writers’ experiences and what they wish someone had told them, or perhaps, hadn’t. The primary objective of the community is to cultivate a space where writers and journalists, often isolated and working alone, can log in and feel a bit of support and in a sense, camaraderie.

I always knew that I wanted to run my own business and do my own thing, but I didn’t imagine I’d be doing it less than four years after graduating, let alone in a recession. As naïve as it sounds, and probably is, I believe that if you have a good idea and the conviction to give it a shot, what’s the worst that can happen?

In my case the timing felt right and I was growing increasingly frustrated hearing horror stories about dead-end websites and freelancers being exploited. I realised that I might be in a position to offer some advice, or at least create somewhere for the wise to offer encouragement to those who need it.

In a commitment to nurture young talent coming into the freelance writing industry, Creative-Bloc offers all recent graduates a year’s free membership, and students free membership for the duration of their course.

If you don’t fall into either of the above categories email Rachael with ‘Journo Grads’ as the subject and free membership will be arranged.

Rachael Oku is an editor, editorial consultant and freelance copywriter living in London. She founded Creative-Bloc, a social enterprise for freelance writers, in 2012

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