Freelancer interview: Rachael van Oudheusden, Big Old House

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Rachael van Oudheusden, from Big Old House [www.bigoldhouse.com]. I’m a freelance Marketing and PR Consultant and Copywriter. I help businesses talk to existing and potential customers through B2B marketing, PR and copywriting.

It’s pretty varied. It can involve creating marketing plans, coordinating advertising, writing brochures, websites, editorials, planning and creating social media campaigns or connecting clients with their target media to raise brand awareness.

What led you to start freelancing?

Having spent almost 20 years in marketing communications roles, covering PR, project management, campaign planning and messaging for mainly B2B clients and owner managed businesses, I realised I wanted a bit more freedom and flexibility.

I had a senior role in an agency, which was becoming more operational than creative. My days were more HR than PR. I realised that I couldn’t remember the last time I had written something, or even had the headspace to think about writing something.

I felt that I wasn’t delivering for my team or my existing clients well enough. It was time to redress the balance. It was time to look after myself, enjoy work again and choose the types of work I wanted to do and be proud of.

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?

  • Accountancy is more complicated than anyone tells you, especially when you become limited or VAT registered. Pay for help if this is not your strength. 
  • It is very lonely, unless you make sure it isn’t. Spending too much time on your own is bad for you. Turns out I quite like being around people. Find a co-working space that is right for you, such as Works Social [https://www.workssocial.co]
  • You will waste your time and money going to soul destroying networking events until you figure what is right for you. And you will. Then it will be worthwhile. 

What three issues have you had since starting up?

Not really issues, more things I didn’t factor in or found harder than expected. 

  • Saying no to business that is not true my original core focus (ideally building, construction property and industrial sectors). When you first start, you daren’t say no to any work in case nothing ever comes along again…it will. 
  • Taking on too much at once and not allowing for ‘thinking time’. Having too many projects and deadlines on at once means that everyone loses – you get stressed, your clients don’t get the best of you and your business suffers longer term (not to mention your sleep). 
  • Business developing faster than expected and not knowing how to manage it all. Delegating to just yourself is a tough prospect when your to do list is longer than a roll of wallpaper. Finding a network of other suppliers and co-freelancers has helped take the pressure off at times. Being freelance means I can give clients the flexibility they need and if I can’t help them, I have built a network of super talented people who can.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

So many good things – variety, opportunities, fun, creativity, sense of achievement. Definitely being your own boss has to top the lot. 

Being freelance means I can give people the flexibility they need and if I can’t help them, I have built a network of super talented people who can.

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

Three years in I am at a fork in the road. Do I want to remain ‘just a freelancer’ or do I want to be ‘Managing Director of Big Old House’? I don’t know yet. I’ve given myself five years to decide and I’m in no rush. I’ve proved what I needed to to myself and the rest is down to the opportunities that might present themselves and if they feel like the right thing to do at the time. 

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing? 

  • Decide what is most important to you – family, money, time, ethics, work-life balance, flexibility, growth, industry sector, personal development and let that lead your decisions.
  • Reassess where you are every six months and make sure you the things you are doing are either what you set out to do, or even better than that. If not, readjust. 
  • Grow your networks and be generous with your contacts. Be helpful, connect people. It’s nice to be nice. 
  • Track your time. (Harvest [https://www.getharvest.com] is great) What are you doing all day? Helps with assessing profitability, understanding how to manage your time and with quoting new projects. 
  • Have a plan and some key goals, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. One of mine was to visit Japan for a month when I had enough steady work, good enough cash flow and could still pay my mortgage without working for a few weeks. I’m going soon (and not taking my lap top). #proudofmyself
  • Your gut instinct is more important than anything in coming to the right decisions. Ignore it at your peril.
  • Work hard (but smart) and be kind.

Freelancer interview: Christian Lowery – social media manager & copywriter

This week’s interview is with NYC based social media manager, copywriter and SEO specialist Christian Lowery

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Christian Lowery, based in NYC, and I am a freelance digital marketing professional specializing in social media marketing, paid advertising and SEO copywriting

What led you to start freelancing?

I started freelancing somewhat by choice, and somewhat by necessity. I was in my mid-20s, not sure what career I really wanted to have, with a lot of uncertainty around me. I studied music at NYU, then got into real estate on a whim, and really got lost in the process of it all. Real estate wasn’t giving me a steady income, so I decided to start freelancing as a way to make money on the side.

Plus, I had always wanted a job that didn’t look like your traditional 9 to 5. One project led to another, which led to another, and I eventually got to a place where I didn’t need to do real estate anymore. I started as a freelance copywriter because I did a lot of copywriting for real estate marketing materials, and it led to this incredible digital marketing career I wouldn’t trade for the world. More on my story: https://christianlowery.com/career-change-advice/

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?

  1. That you have to be STELLAR at self-motivation and time management. No one tells you to get up in the morning and get your work done. Similarly, no one tells you how much time to spend on each client and how much time to spend growing your own business.
  2. That you will pay the self-employment tax all on your own (nearly 15% on top of your income tax)
  3. That some days get lonely and you may miss an office setting every once and a while

What three issues have you had since starting up?

One was charging higher rates than many low-cost freelancers on platforms like Fiverr, another was finding the time to generate leads and write for my blog while still completing client work… but the biggest was getting people to see me as a professional in my new freelance career, after multiple career changes.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

You get more time in your day to do the things you love. I don’t commute or waste time talking to friends around an office. I get time to make breakfast for myself every morning, catch up on the news, shower, mentally prepare for a productive day, and all by 9:00am. Then, I get to go straight to work without wasting time to get there.

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

I am building my personal brand to generate revenue from my website, eGuides, consultation classes and more. For me, it’s important to generate streams of revenue that have nothing to do with client work.

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing? 

They should take my freelance quiz to see if freelancing is really the best choice for them. The quiz is simply a list of 11 questions that will help them know if they have what it takes to be a successful freelancer. Also, I would tell them, above all else, to be extremely patient with themselves. You may start by making $10/hour on a very insignificant project, but make $50/hour less than a year later – that’s what happened to me.