A new concourse of ideas, work, and recognition unfolds later this month. Freepublik, a brainchild of four friends, is a platform connecting ad agencies and production houses with creative freelancers, who can not only seek work but also enter it for recognition and awards. The idea at the heart of Freepublik being to develop a pool of readily available top talent competitively priced and capable of delivering benchmarked work on time. “Freepublik™.com is a global platform for creative freelancers to showcase their talent and attract client opportunities. We intend to cultivate this platform as an association that can serve as a collective voice for the creative freelancing community,” says the Freepublikans in an interview with Creative Brands about their vision.
EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW
CREATIVE BRANDS: So, how do you envision these awards and how do you differentiate it from ‘mainstream’ awards?
FREEPUBLIK: We believe, if efforts are recognised and rewarded at the right time, it helps bring out better results. This is much more relevant with regard to freelancers who always have to put in that extra effort in order to stay in the reckoning. In fact, freelancers are often deprived of an affordable platform that supports and honours individual effort and talent. It was with this idea in mind that we thought of pioneering an initiative towards exclusively recognising the creative freelancer’s talent across the globe. Recognition will go a long way towards not only promoting creative entrepreneurship, but also building a high level of motivation, especially during these times of a global pandemic and the nearly institutionalised work-from-home culture. With special categories for students pursuing education in design, advertising, and marketing, we plan to open the award entries to new and upcoming talent as well.
CB: So, who would be your community/target audience?
FREEPUBLIK: The awards are open to all participants who have executed creative work and campaigns for clients as freelancers, as well as those who have done work as a team of freelancers under small agency banners (with less than 20 employees). By hosting these awards, we are aiming to highlight freelancers’ talent as well as their contribution to the industry. We already have more than 2000 plus professionals across domains following our social updates around the awards for the past one month, and this number is increasing every day.
CB: What are the categories you have laid out?
FREEPUBLIK: We have attempted to make sure we present this unique opportunity for freelancers across the creative spectrum. The FREEPUBLIKAN© Awards 2020 will be presented to the best of the freelancing talent in the following categories:
- Design & Creative
- Film & Photography
- Image Retouching & CGI
- Account & Planning
- FREEPUBLIKAN© Of The Year — Independent / Team / Students
Each of these categories has subcategories to cover individual expertise areas. Beyond the above, we will be honouring The FREEPUBLIKAN© of the Year for expectional talent amongst all categories. Furthermore, we also have similar categories to honour student talent and a special trophy for the FREEPUBLIKAN© Studentof the Year.
CB: Your key focus area is freelancers — the unsung heroes of the creative industry. How do you tap them and what is the platform you plan to host them on?
FREEPUBLIK: Freepublik™.com is a global platform for creative freelancers to showcase their talent and attract client opportunities. We intend to cultivate this platform as an association that can serve as a collective voice for the creative freelancing community. Our social media handles are quite active with regular information and potential work opportunities being posted on a regular basis. This is one of the reasons why we have a seen a huge surge on our social media followings, especially LinkedIn, where we have more than 9,000 connections of creative professionals, students, and freelancers from all parts of the world and these numbers are increasing by the day. Our aim is to reach 100,000 connections by 2022.
CB: How do freelancers enter their work for the awards? Is there any fee?
FREEPUBLIK: Most of the ‘mainstream advertising industry’ awards come with heavy participation fees that are usually unaffordable for freelancers and individuals. Also, there is a big void in the industry with no provision or ability to recognise these unsung freelancers, engaged behind the scenes and unknown to the world at large. FREEPUBLIKAN© 2020 is an effort to bring out all these hidden gems and help remove the initial hurdles they face. The awards are also part of our larger social responsibility during the pandemic and we have decided to waive off participation fees this year.
CB: Students are going to be an important part of the awards. How do you visualise student participation?
FREEPUBLIK: Students, who will be the professionals of tomorrow, need strong motivation and recognition at the start of their careers. FREEPUBLIKAN© Awards will help identify this early talent and make it accessible for the industry to explore and nurture. Our special emphasis on the student category is part of our commitment to the creative freelancers’ cause, bringing out our efforts in helping develop confidence and early entrepreneurial skills.
Students pursuing courses in design, advertising, and marketing are eligible to participate in the student categories by submitting their college assignments or projects executed as part of their internship programme as long as they have not entered work that has been requisitioned by any paid client. In case they wish to enter work that has been requisitioned by a paid client, the entry will need to be filled under the professional category. Our special marketing campaign for students has been well-received by the respective HODs, Deans, and Principals who have been very forthcoming with their support. This has earned us some great responses.
CB: How do you put together the jury for the awards and where do you draw in the experts from? And how do you ensure the processes are transparent and lend credibility to the awards?
FREEPUBLIK: Recognising talent is no easy task, especially when it’s a game-changer for your career. Our esteemed juries are all well-known personalities who have made a mark for themselves through their excellence in work, both as freelancers or otherwise. With in-depth industry knowledge, these professionals will be carrying out due diligence, before picking the winners. We will also be following award guidelines in line with industry standards and choose the most deserving freelancer for the respective category awards.
CB: So, as you say you expect work for freelancers to become more sustainable and financially rewarding. How do you become a facilitating platform for freelancers and clients?
FREEPUBLIK: As the world moves towards increasing cost optimisation, clients will be forced to run marketing campaigns at much-reduced budgets. This will end up putting a huge pressure on agencies to bill much lower rates, which may not be feasible in the long run. The alternative, engaging freelancers or contract staff and to add to this work-from-home becoming an accepted norm, naturally pushes everyone to a gig economy. With a huge pool of freelancing talent available, there will be a strong need to assist clients to help them pick and choose the right talent matching their requirements both from creativity as well as a commercial perspective. Leveraging its freelancer community, Freepublik.com will be in a strong position to assist on client requirements as well as help freelancers with the right client projects as per appropriate remuneration.
CB: So you plan to juggle the roles of mentor, facilitator, and negotiator? Will there be any conflict of interest with agencies?
FREEPUBLIK: As the global market moves to a cost management mode, agencies are destined to start outsourcing jobs to smaller design houses or freelancers. Freepublik™ will be playing an important role by facilitating this connection between the agencies and freelancers, much beyond their standard network. With a global reach, individuals operating with small-sized teams can also look forward to reaching out to clients beyond their geographical reach and even crossing language barriers, thanks to Freepublik™. Advertising agencies keep needing extra hands whenever there is an avalanche of work and with the current downsizing of teams, who knows, tomorrow they might find talent for their businesses through Freepublik™!