Claudia Haberberg, Freelance Marketer and Copywriter
I applied for a bursary from the AMA without any clear idea of what to expect. I knew there would be networking, panels, and learning sessions, but I didn’t know what that would look like. The conferences I’d been to previously, while interesting and helpful in their way, had been male-dominated, predominantly white, and focused on quite a narrow range of topics.
Imagine my joy, then, when the first keynote session opened with Deborah Williams of the Creative Diversity Network – a black, disabled woman – parodying the very attitudes that had made me feel like a fish out of water elsewhere. The collection of short speeches that followed emphasised the importance of action, disruption and improvisation, and I started to feel a rare rush of excitement about what I’m doing and what my work could be.
This feeling was the perfect setup for the Hackathon, which took place for the duration of Wednesday between keynotes. For someone with the kind of anxiety I experience, the Hackathon was perfect: it gave me a task to focus on and a way to bond with the people around me, and at the end I felt a real sense of achievement from what we came up with in such a short span of time.
I hope to keep in touch with the other participants in the Hackathon and work towards making those concepts a reality. I also hope to stay in contact with some of the people I met at the freelancers’ lunch, where we were able to share our spectrum of experiences and offer each other solidarity and support.
I’m not really used to feeling solidarity and support in my work. Freelancing is a pretty lonely business – many of us work from home, and it’s rare to be linked to a single project for long enough to build up a sense of community with any one client. Having that space at a conference was a real gift.
I particularly appreciate the way conferences offer the opportunity to reconnect with the basics of your practice – partly because it’s always important to do that, whatever your profession, but also because everyone has a slightly different idea of what the basics are and how they should be implemented.
The sessions I attended on Thursday gave me a really valuable insight into which basic concepts of SEO and marketing for theatrical performances I might have been neglecting in my recent work, which ones I perhaps hadn’t considered fundamental, and how I can support my clients to build and maintain the strongest possible foundation.
At the AMA Conference I found forward momentum through challenging ideas; a group of innovators who want to take action for accessibility; a community of freelancers who can share experience and vulnerability; and a generous group of knowledgeable professionals to learn from. All of these things will carry me through the coming year, and I can’t wait to see what 2019 will bring.
My AMA conference 2018 Top Three
— Confidence in my ideas, expertise, and skills
— A better understanding of how to use SEO
— Hope for the future of the industry! It may sound trite, but it really made a difference to me to see such incredible women and BAME people on the stage, sharing their ideas and celebrating change and progress