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Has anyone become a freelance Marketeer - could I pick your brains?

(7 Posts)
Justonemorecardi Thu 11-Apr-13 13:29:52

Hi, a bit of background, I have loads of marketing experience but recently lost my part time job in a restructure. There are no part time jobs in our area so I'd like to work freelance setting myself up as a marketing consultant, but I have to confess I'm going round in circles trying to work out my 'offering'. I've worked in large companies, so have not taken something from start to finish, although in my last role I did a wide variety of projects, and outsourced printing, artwork and distribution - so I was able to own something to delivery. I still have these contacts so I think this will help me.

I'd really like to hear from anyone who has made this jump and find out:

1. How you get new work
2. Do you offer 'the complete package' - delivering printed material, HTML, Database newsletters etc, or do you offer something specific or do you offer part of the process?
3. If you do offer the complete package did you have to learn stuff? For example, should I take an Indesign course (not sure how realistic this is - can you get to a good standard just using a course confused)
4. How do you quote - do you have an hourly/day rate?
5. Are you glad you work for yourself?

I know I just need more self belief, but I'm procrastinating too much because it is way out of my comfort zone!

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 11-Apr-13 18:08:44


Sorry to hear you lost your job but well done for considering a way forward.

I started as a marketing freelancer 2 years ago following leaving a job I didn't like.

To answer your questions:

1) 80% if from people I know. I started by telling those I knew I was now freelancing. I have done a little business development which was been fairly successful. I have also been approached for work via my website/through contacts etc.

2) No & personally I would question (in a client's position) if somebody was offering to do it all. If you are a freelancer you can manage a network of others if needbe. I have developed a few useful contacts who I use on behalf of clients.

3) I have self-taught myself more about SEO, PPC, social media as I feel I need to keep abreast/stay relevant. There is so much content online about this, you don't need necessarily need to formally learn stuff.

4) I generally have 2 hourly rates. One for SME and one for larger clients. It has taken me a while to arrive at what these are. For one off projects I generally end up doing a fixed price.

5) Yes. I love working with different people, sitting in a coffee shop and working, doing a great job for clients and building up my reputation etc. The biggest downside is the feast or famine nature of the beast. I know from contacts/friends/people on this board that is how it is, so you have to fine peace with it!

I was the same as you, I didn't know what to focus on. A friend suggested I concentrate on offering 3 main areas/things. Which is what I did. I have found it has naturally refined itself over the 2 years, so I would suggest you don't get 0000s of flyers printed with your offer. Your website can easily be amended.

I would start with what you know, so pitch yourself to businesses like those you have worked for and also those you have worked for. Your past experience is what is going to sell you initially.

Do you think the sort of orgs you have worked with previously would hire freelancers/consultants? I ask as I have a niche and typically the larger orgs already have enough resource.

If they are too large, then what about smaller versions of them. I personally love the idea of working with small local businesses, but realistically they cannot really afford me.

Could you ask some ex-colleagues/friends what know your work for their help with refining your offer after a glass of wine?

Hope that helps. Good luck with your decision.

cakeaddict Mon 15-Apr-13 14:20:27


Yes, I am a marketing freelancer and found myself in exactly the same situation as you - I decided if I wanted a part-time job I was going to have to create it myself. That was just over a year ago and I honestly haven't looked back. To answer your questions...

1. Started using my network of people I already knew, coupled with some initial approaches to companies in the same sector I was working in before. That got me some initial work and since then it's been repeat business mostly - though I'm aware I need to cast my net wider at some point. I tend to specialise in the same sector I worked in previously.

2/3. No. I mostly work for large companies who want me to use their in-house design teams or established suppliers anyway - though I do know some freelance designers etc. who I could call on if necessary. I agree with Margo that being a Jack of all trades isn't really a good thing - there are plenty of highly experienced designers around so anything I could cobble together on indesign would take longer and be worse than they could produce.

As a sole trader, it probably limits what work I will get - I'm obviously not a full-service marketing agency so wouldn't get massive projects. But I think it's possible to find a niche and get work based on what I can deliver.

4. I have a day rate - for some longer term projects where the scope of the project can change, I charge a day rate. For shorter, more self-contained projects I quote a flat-fee for the project (but I arrive at that figure by using my day-rate IYSWIM). Quoting for work has been the hardest thing to get used to and the thing I agonise over most...

5. Yes. There are pros and cons - the uncertainty of when and where the work is going to come from is difficult to get used to at first, but I'm learning to relax a bit more. Also, although I still work 'part-time' the boundaries between work and home are far more blurred than when I worked part-time for a company - I think I put more hours in now and work slightly random anti-social hours at times.

But I haven't regretted it for one minute - give it a go!

Justonemorecardi Mon 15-Apr-13 22:49:00

Hi Margo and Cake, thank you so much for taking the time to reply with so such detail, I've found this really encouraging as I thought I had skill gaps that meant I could only work for a company, but I feeling positive that I could do this now.

Would you mind me asking what parts of marketing you do? eg do you do strategy, planning high level stuff, or complete projects/campaigns, or single items like brochures, newsletters etc? Did you define what you'd do to prospective clients or just offer a general marketing resource? And also how did you work out how much to charge?

MrsMargoLeadbetter Tue 16-Apr-13 10:35:00

No worries.

I find the "what" depends on the the size of the org. I have found in my target markets that larger orgs require the more strategic elements. For smaller clients with no marketing resource they could need anything. My website ranges all the services I can offer. From talking to the potential clients you then work out what they need but generally I present myself as an experienced marketing resource.

Charging - there are 2 elements IMHO. 1) What you need to live on and 2) What the client is willing to pay.

1) I read this book early on and the author suggested that you assume that you will only work 1/3 - 2/3 of the time (from memory, the book is packed away currently) available. The rest of the time is business development & admin.

You need to look at how many hours over the year you think you have, then knock off some (as above) then think about what you need to earn, add 25% for tax, NI (assuming you'll be under the higher tax rate) & some small contribution to a pension. I'd also allow a bit for business development (event attendance, membership of professional body, literature etc). Then divide that sum by the days/hours you have and that will give you a rate. You might not reach this initially, but I'd start with your ideal rate in mind.

2) Completely depends on the size of the org. If you are pitching yourself to large orgs similar to where you used to work, you might already have an idea of what they feel it is acceptable to pay for a consultant. Some orgs are very comfortable paying £1K+VAT a day for resource, but it depends on them. You can always pay to download accounts at Companies House if you want to gain an insight into their finances.

You could also look on here for some idea of the sorts of projects/tasks that are out there. PPH isn't well paid (generally), but it could help you build some freelance experience & your confidence. I also find it interesting to see what people need help with to spot trends etc.

Hope that helps.

cakeaddict Thu 18-Apr-13 18:33:10


Yes, the what really depends on the client - I suppose I offer a general marketing resource but give examples of past projects or areas I tend to work in. I have market research experience as well so do a combination of marketing and market research. It ranges from longer term project work where I'm basically a freelance product manager doing the planning and execution as necessary, to small but regular copywriting jobs. I also do a fair bit of desk research - competitor analysis type stuff.

Re what to charge, I went about it a similar way that margo did - I also read somewhere that you should aim to earn your annual salary in 100 days (so: annual salary / 100 = day rate). I also found a couple of similar consultants to me that made their rates publicly available so I knew I was in the right ballpark, plus I'd worked in organisations previously that sometimes used freelancers so I had a rough idea of industry norms. At first I found it really difficult to quote for work and would agonise over it for hours, but I'm getting a bit more confident about it now.

Justonemorecardi Tue 23-Apr-13 11:04:07

Hi again, apologies for the delay in replying - bit manic here as we have work being done on the house. I like the 100 day equation - that probably does work out to be about what other freelances charge, but I can see being flexible is helpful. Margo - I've ordered that book, looks like a good resource for me. Thank you!

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