Welcome back my friendsssss! A few weeks ago I shared on my IG stories some new updates on me and my current work situation, so I thought I'd write more about it here! Keep reading to hear more about my professional work experience, why I started freelancing, how to get your first client, and what my schedule is like now vs a 9-5.
My Career Path So Far:
Rewind to a few years ago, I graduated college with a degree in marketing and a minor in apparel merchandising from Indiana University. In the fall of my senior year, I landed a job at Anheuser- Busch for post grad and I ended up working there almost 2 years. They moved me from St. Louis to Los Angeles and eventually to Boise where I lived for a year and a half and covered all Trade Marketing in Montana, Idaho and Utah. Boise quickly became one of my favorite places on the planet and I feel so lucky to have been moved there for work. (Because I probably would never have moved there on my own.) Working for the biggest beer company in the world comes with a ton of perks, a lot of stability, and a level of credibility since it's a household name & a global brand. It was a great place for me to start my professional career but at the end of the day, I wasn't really passionate about the industry. So eventually, I left A-B and I took a job at a social media/entertainment startup back in LA! I was the 7th hire (we ended up growing to 30ish employees) and I built up the VIP department from scratch. I made so many friends there and it was the change I was looking for. It definitely felt like a step in the right direction but long story short, I got let go earlier this year along with most of my coworkers and that's where the freelance story kinda begins!
Getting let go was really the turning point in terms of making the move over to the freelance world. It didn't happen immediately and I was interviewing for other corporate positions, but I quickly realized that wasn't the direction I wanted to go in. I first prioritized building my own brand, I started working on my Instagram and I built this website and blog you're reading now. I figured these platforms would become my new online resume or portfolio for the more creative jobs I would be looking for. And I was right! After a few months, I knew my social platforms were credible and substantial enough to show what kind of work I could do, and eventually I got my first freelance client for social media consulting and content creation.
How To Get Your First Client:
This is debatably the hardest part. It's the question of "how am I supposed to get a freelance job without ever having one?" The only advice I have here is: CONFIDENCE. It sounds so lame but no brand or business owner is going to put their faith in you if you don't even believe in yourself. You always feel like you need experience to get more experience (if that makes sense), so it's scary to not have much expertise in a new industry. But people pivot and switch career paths all the time, you just have to work with what you've already done and accomplished and be able to pitch yourself strongly enough. I realized I didn't really have the experience I wanted with my previous corporate work history, so I made experience by diving into the social media world myself. By building up my own personal brand via social media, I was able to convince brands I could help build theirs. By starting my own website and writing blogs, I had the confidence to tell potential clients that I could design, rebuild and manage their websites too. So if you don't have the experience you want, start learning and gain the experience on your own.
1) Network and make connections! Whether you work for corporate or not, building your professional network is so important and I feel like its extra important in the freelance world. You'll get jobs from pitching yourself to brands you believe in but as your network grows, people will start to reach out to you too.
2) Set budget vs hourly rate. In my opinion, setting a monthly budget with your clients vs working on an hourly rate is the way to go. That way it is a guaranteed/fix amount you can count on and rather than tracking every hour you put towards a client, you can work on the bigger picture/project as a whole.
3) Provide examples of work you've done. Like I said earlier, Instagram is a great way to showcase your work in terms of copywriting, content creation, growth strategies etc. This is all I had to really show for myself in the beginning + some previous career stuff I've done that I knew would also transfer over. But no matter what it is, be able to speak to your work and what you're capable of.
My Schedule Now:
I am still relatively new to this world so I am figuring this part out as I go, it's low key a huge adjustment from a typical 9-5 job. Social never stops so I am definitely working 7 days a week but I do as much work as I can on the weekdays to ease up some time on the weekends. It's been so fun to have the flexibility of making my own schedule but it's also been tough to find a good balance. I've realized it's really important to set a schedule for yourself, still have a routine and even set a timer for when to work on specific client projects. When you're working for multiple brands at one time, it can start to feel super overwhelming (in my experience lol) because there is constantly work to do for each. So I legit will set a timer on my phone like "2 hours of work for Client 1- edit content, schedule posts for the week, write captions and respond to comments and DMs" And for those 2 hours I don't even think about my other projects.
Earlier this month I started working part time for Ilia Beauty doing brand partnerships and influencer relations with the best April Lockhart. It has been awesome so far, I love Ilia and everything they stand for plus I had worked with them on a paid project previously so it's so cool to be on the other side of things. My schedule with Ilia is the most stable or routine, I work full days for them Tues-Thurs. So those days of the week definitely are the busiest because once my work for Ilia is done for the day, I usually have my other client work to do or follow up on.
Do I like freelancing?
Yes so much. And more importantly, I really love the work I am doing. I am learning so much and am definitely being challenged in ways I haven't been before. Having so many things going on at once is an adjustment and it definitely takes a minute to get everything under control, but it keeps things exciting- I swear there aren't enough hours in the day. It's been such a fun change and for now it's great. That doesn't mean that I won't go back to corporate at some point, honestly who knows- 2020 has been a rollercoaster but I'm basically just going with the flow and jumping at opportunities that come my way. It's just kinda crazy to think that literally none of this would have happened if I wasn't laid off earlier this year. It was the push out of the door that I needed, but I don't think I would have had it in me to quit on my own terms. Just goes to show that when one door closes, a lot of other doors open up...