Empowering the Freelance Economy

20 questions with… Sylvia Tillmann, TRE Provider

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When the pandemic first hit, Sylvia Tillman’s job as an IT and business development consultant came to an end. That’s when she took the plunge and launched a new venture in alternative health.

“I am now offering Jikiden Reiki treatments, laughter yoga classes and having the most amazing job ever as a TRE instructor,” Tillman told The Freelance Informer in a recent article on alternative health practices.

“My background is in IT and business development, but alternative health has been my true love for the past 20 years,” she said.

Here’s what else we found out…

What’s your first name/what do people call you (on a good day)?

I am Sylvia, my friends in Kent call me Sylvie (love it) and my ‘old’ friends from school call me Tilli.

What’s the best thing that happened to you this year?

Spending six weeks in Germany – working location independently for the first time ever!

How would you describe what you do for a living?

I teach people TRE – how to shake it* off! [*stress, tension, pain, grief …]

What was the main factor behind your decision to go independent?

To work location independently and to do what I really love and believe in.

What do you love the most about being freelance?

I love the flexibility and supporting people on their well-being journey.

What do you dislike the most?

I’m probably not long enough freelance, because I can’t think of any dislikes, oh, apart from tax returns of course.

What business structure have you chosen (e.g., limited company, sole trader, PAYE/agency contractor, etc.?). Any tips for budding freelancers on why you’ve chosen this structure?

Sole trader – it’s just me. And it’s early days.

Craziest/oddest request that you have had from a client, recruiter or customer?

I’d love to tell you a hilarious story, but I can’t – yet.

At which point did your freelance/contractor income validate your decision to go independent?

I’m still working on it, but at least I do what I really, really love doing!

If you had to accept a contract that was inside IR35, would it make you feel like an employee or something different?

Probably very special: the odd one out – in a good way, though.

The question that clients ask you the most and makes you cringe?

It’s not a question, it’s more like:

Client: “Oh, my back/shoulder/neck pain … is killing me, but my physio has such a long waiting list …”

Me: “I can teach you how to support yourself and you can do it proactively, even preventatively.”

Client: “Really? Ah, I’d rather stay on the waiting list, I’ve always done that and the physio will sort it!”

What do you do to switch off work?

I’m mildly addicted to playing tennis. And afterwards – to let go of the tension in my hips – I’ll practise TRE.

In your inner circle what are you known for?

The health nut.

Do you ask clients for testimonials and if so what do you do with them?

I always ask – and I’m working on getting video testimonials, which is quite difficult – they are on my website, social media … the world needs to know!

How do you determine/justify your rate to clients or recruiters?

Investment in one’s health. For example, I am teaching stress management skills (and so much more), i.e. once learned, you own a tool for life – and I’m not creating any dependency, but empowering my clients. Think how much money you can save by not seeing your physio or counsellor on a regular basis. Win!

Do you use social media to land new business/promote your services? If so, which site has worked best for you?

Of course and I’ve got quite a number of Likes on Facebook and I am currently trying to understand Instagram (not that straightforward, is it?). Twitter is great for #journorequests.

Are you having to upskill to remain competitive? If so, what was the latest thing that you learned?

I’m quite curious and easily bored, so it’s a constant learning process. I’ve just started training in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) on food and diet according to the five elements – super interesting!

Have you ever had to quit a client? If so, how did the break-up go?

Thankfully not. I am in the business of health and empathy, I rely on attracting the perfect clients for me!

Proudest moment?

Does teaching TRE to my 80-year-old mum count?

Which actor or comedian or famous person would best play you if your life became the plot of a major film?

How cool would that be? Maybe Juliette Binoche.

What are three things you can’t live without as an independent worker?

My computer and internet (one item really) as I mainly teach online, my lovely (really, I mean it!) clients and umpteen cups of warm water (TCM principle!) while working!

Want to connect with Sylvia?


We’d love to hear your Freelancer Story: Never mind the fluff: The 20 question interview – Freelance Informer

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