Here’s what I wish I knew before I took the plunge into full-time freelance…

Six months into full time freelancing, here’s what I wish I knew from the start…

Set realistic expectations

I used to work for a company that promised clients overnight success, to become a household name within weeks or grow social media following by thousands each and every week. Guess who had to hear the constant complaints? Me. The overworked, underpaid account manager trying to achieve the impossible. It was a valuable lesson to learn.

Go outside

For a long time, I found myself in front of my laptop for a ridiculous number of hours a day, rarely taking breaks. It had a serious effect on my mental health to the point where I was ready to throw in the towel. Now, I make a conscious effort to take my dog for a long walk every day as well as taking regular breaks to actually move out of the hunchback position.

Have a separate office space

Another rookie mistake I made was working from my bedroom, it meant I was in that one room for the majority of my days, something I definitely do not recommend.

Work when you’re most productive

I know I don’t function well before 10 am, and more often than not, I produce my best work at 10 pm. That’s one of my favourite things about freelancing, if I wake up one day and decide I don’t want to work right away, I don’t have to.

Plan ahead

On that note, in order to allow the flexibility that I need to work to my full potential, I always work 48 hours ahead of deadlines. This gives plenty of time for my editor to look over my work, and for me to re-read the following day with ‘fresh eyes’.

Be honest and upfront

My brutal honesty is truly a blessing and a curse in everyday life, my clients often comment on how honest or straight talking I am. Obviously, I always remain professional but if I have a valid and informed opinion which will improve my client’s brand, I’ll let them know.

Utilise LinkedIn

The majority of my recent work has come from LinkedIn, I rarely used it last year, and when I did, I didn’t actually interact. Now, I spend a few hours each week connecting with brands and individuals I really want to work with. It’s taught me a lot and I got a lot of great connections dishing out useful advice and content every single day.

Listen to podcasts

With writing taking up the majority of my days, the last thing I want to do is sit reading articles, so I started listening to podcasts and it didn’t take me long to find my favourites. If you’re not sure where to start, I’d recommend listening to the wise words of Dan Kelsall and Steven Bartlett.

Value your time

This is always going to the most difficult for some, getting paid what you’re actually worth. It’s a daunting prospect increasing your rates or sending off a proposal with what you might think are high rates. But, if you do some research, you might find there is scope to increase your rates.

Don’t be afraid to say no

If a client offers you more work or asks you to go above and beyond, don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t have the capacity to do so.

Ask for feedback

When you’re working independently, feedback on your work might isn’t always a privilege you’ll get. So, if you want it, all you really have to do is ask. Sure, a client will be quick enough to tell you if the works not good enough, but it’s always good to encourage open and honest critique throughout a project.

Of course, every day is still a learning curve in the infancy stages of running my own business. I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you have some wise words to share, please get in touch!

Why you should be utilising paid advertising on social media

According to The Manifest, 92% of small business will increase their investment on social media for 2018/19. If you’re unsure as to why you should consider paid advertising for your brand, read on to find out just some of the reasons why…

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to grow across social media organically, thanks to algorithms and fierce competition, organic reach has seen a significant decline in recent years.

In case you didn’t already know, more than two billion people use social media every single day, with studies finding that the average user spends around 135 minutes on social media platforms each and every day. So, if you think that social media, both organic and paid won’t add value to your business, you might be missing a trick.

Contrary to popular belief paid social media advertising is a cost-effective method to promote your business. With a relatively small budget, you can reach thousands of users across social media.

With post from friends and family taking priority on user’s feeds, social media presence for brands has seen a slow decline. That being said, you don’t need a huge budget to make your presence known on the feeds of your target audience.

Through Facebook advertising you can:

  • Amplify your reach through targeted ads to your desired market
  • Gain instant visibility, ensuring your posts will be showing up on news feeds
  • Set, monitor and adjust budgets
  • Enhance your targeting (Facebook also offer a retargeting feature)
  • Build your brand awareness through paid and organic interaction
  • Utilise your content marketing, what’s the point in putting out great content if no one sees it?
  • Collect market insights using the analytics for each specific platform you are running ads on

When paid advertising across social media is done right, it can be a rewarding investment. Of course, social media is a challenge in itself, so before you consider paid ads, you want to nail your content. Check out my post on common mistakes to avoid on social media or get in touch to discuss a bespoke package for your brand.

 

Common mistakes brands make when it comes to social media marketing

Social media can be a valuable tool for your business when it is utilised effectively, from creating a digital footprint to generating leads or sales and everything in between. But that’s the problem, so many brands forget about the ‘everything in between’. They forget about connecting with their audience,  discussing relevant topics, and in some cases, they forget the entire ‘social’ aspect of social media.

One of the stand out mistakes for me is posting for the sake of posting, I used to work a number of clients that had been promised x amount of posts each and every day, it’s lucky this was remote work because my eyes roll every time I see that on a brief.  There is absolutely no point in posting at 9am, 1pm, and 7pm every day like clockwork if you’re posting irrelevant or repetitive content. By all means, post as much as like if you’re posting content that is actually valuable. Just take a moment to ask yourself will this actually resonate with my audience or is it a load of crap before you get carried away.

Next up is not using platform-specific content. It might seem like a great idea to set up a Hootsuite account and create a page on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Google+ (does anyone actually use that anymore?), because you think that’s what your competitors are doing, but it’s also completely pointless if you’re posting the same content to each. First and foremost, choose the platforms you actually really need to be on, create specific content for each and worry about the rest later. It’s all about understanding your audience through trial and error, but you can’t do this effectively if you’re just piggybacking content across all social media.

Avoiding topics and content that isn’t directly related to your brand, product or service is another one. It’s the equivalent to someone that only ever talks about themselves, never good is it? A lot of brands seem to think that the sole interest of their audience is them. Mix it up a bit, post relevant news articles, produce content that isn’t just about your brand, share opinions on trending topics.

Last but definitely not least, hard selling. This is for those brands that totally overlook the social aspect of social media. This one really simple, just don’t do it. Not on LinkedIn, not on Facebook and don’t even bother on Instagram.

If it sounds like a little too much hard work to avoid these common mistakes, hire me to do it for you.

Social Influencers: The good, the bad and the ugly

Firstly, let’s start with the basics. For those of you who don’t know, social influencers are individuals or groups that have established a credibility within a specific industry, giving them access to a large audience in order to promote brands or products. By virtue of their reach and fan base, social influencers are able to persuade others to buy certain products or services.

The cost of using a social influencer to promote your brand or product can vary massively, depending on the industry and their following. Low-level influencers with around 10,000 followers may charge around £100 per post, on the opposite end of the spectrum the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner can rake in around £750,000 per post!

Brands may opt to use an influencer for a one-off post, or establish a long-term relationship, in this instance, the influencers are often referred to as ‘brand ambassadors’.

You may have noticed hashtags such as #ad on #spon across your social media feeds recently, this is because Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have recently released new guidelines to ensure followers are aware that these types of posts are in fact, paid adverts.

Although the ASA has stepped in to make this kind of advertising more transparent, there are still a number of serious flaws, particularly for businesses when it comes to using social influencers to promote their brand. Research that has taken place since the rise of social influence has found that many individuals and brands purchase fake followers, therefore meaning their engagement rates don’t reflect their follower statistics.

According to a study carried out by Points North Group, culprits of buying fake followers included Ritz-Carlton with an estimated 78% and Pampers with 32%. In an industry where social influence is on the rise, it is likely thousands of brands have fallen victim to this scam, and as a result have lost of millions of pounds.

From my personal point of view, so many ‘influencers’ in the industry are in it to make a quick buck, promoting products that capitalise on the insecurities of impressionable followers to sell the latest ‘detox’ tea or teeth whitening product, over the years I have grown savvy to this, and as a digital marketer can usually spot it a mile off, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case with unknowing consumers.

That being said, when a reputable social influencer is hired to promote a brand in an ethical way, following ASA standards, it can be a fruitful endeavor for both parties, and I’m all for it.

But as a brand, if you are considering using an influencer, do your research first, be sure to check their engagement rates reflect their following stats. If you are hoping to be a social influencer, or even build your brand across social media, buying fake followers could potentially have a long-lasting damaging effect, and although it can take a long time, it is 100% more worthy of your time to build your brand through genuine followers and genuine engagement within your industry.

If you would like more advice on finding a reputable social influencer, feel free to get in touch! Over the years I have built up a database of trusted UK bloggers and influencers with proven results.

Thanks for reading! xo