Reminiscing winning UK Young Freelancer of the Year

Wow, it’s been 3 years already since being on the stage in Kings Place, London, my heart racing with astonishment & excitement under the hot lights and receiving the IPSE UK Young Freelancer of the Year 2017 award!

What a rollercoaster 3 years it’s been! One of my proudest achievements being awarded this incredible title and the support both financially and opportunities received from this competition has been so wonderful. Not just business-wise but personally it’s given me such a confidence boost to grow my little photography business to what it is today.

A few things it’s encouraged me to do since winning the award:

  • To go full-time freelance… just a month after winning took the plunge to go all-in with the photography business and haven’t looked back since!
  • Invest in more equipment to broaden my services & skills as a photographer especially on more lenses and upgrading my camera gear.
  • Commissioned by IPSE to photograph the exact same awards 2 years in a row as well as their National Freelancers Day! Having gone through the awards process myself, it’s been amazing getting to know more young freelancers and making new connections & friends in the industry.
  • Fantastic public speaking opportunities and magazine features, either representing IPSE or the freelance community on what can be done to support small businesses in the UK.
  • Been interviewed on the Being Freelance podcast by Steve Folland, a regular speaker at the IPSE events, shortly after my win and sharing my story on how I became a freelancer.
  • Amazing PR which has helped me reach many incredible clients these past few years and continually grow my photography business and share more beautiful inspiring stories!

But the biggest takeaway from the whole experience has been:

Believing in myself more and gaining the confidence to get out of my comfort zone and develop not just my business, but myself as a businesswoman.

A big thank you to everyone who has helped me on my freelance journey, I haven’t been able to do it without you.

My thought of the day:

“I would say to always follow your dream. And dream big because my whole career, including any of the things that I’ve accomplished, I never thought in a million years that I would be here. So it just proves that once you believe in yourself, and you put your mind to something, you can do it.”

~ Simone Biles, 5x Olympic Medal Gymnast

A shout out to my fellow UK IPSE Young Freelancer Award winners who are doing fantastic things in their businesses: Harvey Morton who won in 2018 and founded Harvey Morton Digital, a social media, web & media company and Bree Kotomah who won in 2019 and founded her own luxury fashion label, Boresa Kotomah.

You can read my original post on winning IPSE UK Young Freelancer Award below:

Originally posted 14 June 2017

“Nisha bowled us over with her enthusiasm for freelancing and her passion for her work shone through.” 
– James Gribben, a member of the judging panel

Excited to announce I’ve been awarded IPSE UK Freelancer of the Year Aspire 2017! To be regarded amongst so many amazing freelancers across the country is incredible. The Aspire award ‘recognises the up and coming talent amongst the youngest, most ambitious freelancers. They are 23 and under and are running their own businesses like seasoned professionals.’ I’m still buzzing from last week’s award ceremony in London. It’s such a fantastic honour to be recognised nationally.

The past few weeks have been a little crazy. Three big milestones have happened: being crowned Britain’s best freelancer, turning 24 and celebrating my 2 year business anniversary. Wow it’s been a whirlwind!

On June 8, I was invited to attend National Freelancers Day organised by IPSE (Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) at the swanky Kings Place in London where the Freelancer awards ceremony would also be held in the evening. After Judging Day in April, and meeting so many amazing freelancers across the country who were shortlisted, I was excited to see the familiar faces as well as the wonderful IPSE team. The day of workshops, networking and guest speakers were great. I also had the chance to catch up with 2015 Aspire finalist, Craig McDougall from Broken Physics Productions who I’ve had the pleasure of working on a few commissions with.

Fabulous host for the evening, Ellie Taylor
For the 4th annual IPSE Freelancer of the Year Awards – ‘a celebration of the brightest and most talented freelancers in the UK’, we had the wonderful pleasure of comedian Ellie Taylor hosting the show. She was incredibly funny and my new fave female comedian after Thursday’s performance! Keynote speaker, Carl Camden, former CEO of Kelly Services, a Fortune 500 company gave an empowering speech about what it means to be a freelancer. What most resonated with me was how he mentioned that work should fit around your life and not the other way around. It’s certainly something to strive towards and embody.

The first three award categories were announced: Katy Carlisle’s Freelance Folk was crowned IPSE’s Ambassador of the Year, Work.Life in Camden was awarded the Co-working Space of the Year and Middlesex the University Partner of the Year Award. Melissa Holloway, a copywriter based in London, and business coach and strategist Chichi Eruchalu finished as runners up in the Inspire category. 

My shocked face before being awarded by IPSE Chairman, James Collings
(L-R) Abigail & Chloe Baldwin (Buttercrumble – graphic design), Charlotte Haldane (Hair & Make up artist),  myself (Nisha Haq Photography), Carl Lonsdale (Spruce My – Interior Specialist), Adam Smith (HSQ Productions – Video & Photography)
It was all very exciting and then it reached the Aspire category for freelancers aged 23 and under. My heart was beating out of my chest and I can remember telling myself to keep it cool! All of a sudden Ellie Taylor announced my name and I was in complete shock. I couldn’t believe I won Freelancer of the Year! I was over the moon; I honestly didn’t think I’d win. I was asked to say a few words and all I could remember was stuttering how amazing it felt and that I did feel good enough for this award and how I feel so much more confident to take my business to the next level. This was certainly one of the best experiences I’ve had this year! The trophy is so beautifully designed and pink – it’s got a permanent home on my mantelpiece. The prize includes £3,000 investment, mentoring sessions with industry leaders and professional memberships to help my business grow.

Subsequently, I was on wonderful high from all the buzz and felicitations from friends and strangers; it was a surreal experience. Professional photographs were taken, congratulatory handshakes and cheek kisses were given, glasses of wine & bubbly were drunken… and the evening was just getting started. It was fantastic catching up with Luke Nicholson from Improve Your Accent, winner of the Inspire Freelancer of the Year 2017 award for established freelancers, 24 and over. Such a worthy winner and one of the kindest people I’ve met. His business is so unique offering non-native English speakers how to communicate more clearly. 

After a drinks reception, a group of us headed to the pub for more merry drinks, a perfect way to end the night. I was really lucky to have my partner, Rob join me for the awards and sharing this amazing moment in my career with him. He’s been so incredibly supportive throughout my business. I didn’t get a chance to do a mini ‘Oscars’ speech on stage, as I was too shocked to think properly, so I’ll mention it here… ‘For all the late nights working, all the times you’ve given me a hug when I’ve been stressed or doubted myself. For the daily motivation and inspiration you give me to stay strong and keep going. I really couldn’t have done this without you… Thank you Rob!’. 😀

Rob (his beard) and me 🙂
To everyone who helped organised the IPSE Awards ceremony (special shout outs to Claire Barrance, IPSE Events Manager and Tom Hayward, Senior Press & PR Officer), the fabulous judges, James Gribben (Head of Press, IPSE), Emmeline Pidgen (2016 Inspire winner and amazing illustrator), Vicki Owen (Small Business Editor at The Mail on Sunday) and Caroline Morgan (IPSE Board Member) for choosing me, Ed Telling Photography for these awesome photographs to remember the night, Dewsign for their awesome creative direction for this awards and to all the 2017 finalists and freelancers who inspire me, thank you, it was a truly unforgettable experience!

Managed to get a quick photo with these lovely ladies who produce brilliant design work. Felling so inspired standing next to them! Mandy Barker from Sail Creative and Buttercrumble.

“Recognising you are good enough and having a positive mindset can feel like the hardest thing in the world sometimes especially as a creative freelancer but if you never try and put yourself out there… you’ll never know what spectacular things could happen!”

Feeling proud – credit Ed Telling Photography


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