How one freelancer plans to prepare for Brexit
Well, 2019 – Brexit year – is here at last.
In less than 90 days we’re almost certainly going to leave the European Union. Whether we have a ‘soft’ Brexit based on Theresa May’s deal, or we make a fresh start under WTO rules is anyone’s guess.
Of course, leaving has its uncertainties. From my professional point of view, I do wonder whether as many European opportunities will be open to me. As a self-employed copywriter, I’ve written for EU-funded projects, worked on company re-branding in Munich, trained global heads of marketing in Budapest and helped major Dutch firms with their messaging.
On the other hand, I can’t help but think that Brexit could open up new opportunities for me – as long as I’m prepared to look for them and embrace them. So, with this in mind, these are my plans for 2019.
Take advantage of the skills gap
As EU migration has slowed, we’re already seeing skills shortages in sectors like IT and construction, meaning UK companies need extra help to recruit as well as to market themselves. I plan to spend time researching which companies will need freelance help and showing them how my involvement can benefit them.
Be flexible and offer new services
Even if skills shortages are likely to be temporary, it always pays to develop new skills and make use of existing ones. I wasn’t always a copywriter. I’m a qualified secondary school teacher and have worked in journalism and education. I can code and build websites. I used to offer training in copywriting and communications to companies and public sector organisations – so I will look at broadening the services I offer so I will enjoy more opportunities after Brexit.
Learn German to a higher standard
While English isn’t going to disappear as a lingua franca within the EU, I predict German will become much more influential. Certainly, as some German and other EU firms have already relocated at least some functions and services to mainland Europe, it’s hard not to see the German language becoming more prized among workers in both Europe and the UK.
This Christmas I’ve been working hard on improving my German skills (I finally finished the Duolingo course). By the end of 2019, I want to be able to approach potential EU clients in their own language. Fewer and fewer people are learning second languages in the UK, so being able to communicate in German as well as French and English will give me an edge.
If nothing else, I could offer translation services too.
Keep an open mind
Whatever your views on EU membership and Brexit, I think it’s important to keep an open mind about what happens next.
As things stand, we’re almost certain to leave the trading bloc in one way or another. But as a history graduate, I know very well that every major upheaval brings benefits as well as drawbacks. So surely the best plan is to keep your eyes open for new opportunities. I plan to and – who knows? – in less than 12 months’ time I could be looking back at one of the most successful years in my life.
I certainly hope so!
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About Ben Locker
Ben Locker is a copywriter who specialises in business-to-business marketing, writing about everything from software and accountancy to construction and power tools. He co-founded the Professional Copywriters’ Network, the UK’s association for commercial writers, and is named in Direct Marketing Association research as ‘one of the copywriters who copywriters rate’.