Gillian Anstey is a stimulation junkie who loves being out and about, and popping into five places on her way to another. Since lockdown she has learnt to be more of a homebody.
Please tell us more about what you do and how long you’ve been a freelancer.
I have been running Gill’s Media for three years. I write and edit, often extending that to co-conceptualising and project-managing publications with a team of my choice.
I work mostly in higher education. I am obsessed with universities, mostly since #FeesMustFall. They provide never-ending knowledge and, with each assignment, I gain more insight into what I thought I already knew. I love campus life, and pre-lockdown regularly attended varsity events. I also used to write about the arts before live events dwindled. One of my favourite things is writing profiles.
What does a day in your life look like? Where/how do you find inspiration?
No matter how early, I start off every day with basic exercises. Not quite bootcamp but about 30 minutes of basic balance, core, and stretches. I go for a walk every evening.
The rest of the day is spent stationary: working, trying to get a clear brief from prospective clients, and practising the piano for at least one hour. I am hoping to do the Grade 8 Royal Schools of Music exam next year.
In between, lots of social media, a trillion and one WhatsApps, and at night, Netflix and other online shows. What inspires me? Taking breaks from work. It is the time away from my desk that helps me think, which is why I prefer charging per project than per hour.
What advice do you have for other freelancers?
Learn about running a business, which is what you are, even if you’re a one-man-band. Do a freelance course. I did the online writers’ bootcamp with Rebecca Weber in Cape Town but whose participants are mostly from Europe and America, and it was invaluable. Try to ensure you don’t just work but also get paid regularly, which is easier said than done.
How long have you been a Safrean, and why are you a member of SAFREA?
I initially joined in 2018/2019. It was useful – for example, I heard about the time tracker Toggl – but I found the Google Group annoying, and the infighting alienating. I was happy to let my membership lapse.
I re-joined under lockdown, hoping to vary the work I do. That hasn’t happened yet but there seem to be more job opportunities on offer, no dramas, and it is still a great platform for advice. And cheap at the price.
What is your work/life motto?
My dad always said: “One day never comes.’’ Not sure I live up to it, but I do try to grab opportunities and not defer joy and experiences.
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