Being a freelancer is usually motivated by something other than a dying sector or a desire to change careers. We live in a world where numerous external circumstances impact lives. One such pivotal point in many people’s lives was the covid pandemic. The world we all knew literally stopped, and everyone had to rethink how they would pay their bills.
Because of the lockdowns, people were unable to attend their jobs posts. Those lucky enough to be able to work from their homes kept their jobs and accepted a work-from-home ethic. But some had to be fired, find new jobs, and probably a new profession altogether. Many companies went out of business, but many new ones suited for the situation emerged.
Zoe Ashbridge is an SEO freelancer specializing in the field of B2B and B2C. She started working in the marketing field and had an 8-year-long career until she decided to quit her job and go on a cycling trip around the world. Her cycling trip was cut off when the pandemic hit, but her employer couldn’t take her back. So, what’s a girl to do? Become her own boss!
Through her job as an SEO freelancer, Zoe helps businesses reach their target audience, helping them increase their sales. Read this brief interview to discover more about Zoe’s journey from full-time to freelance work.
Q: Please tell us about yourself, your expertise etc?
A: I’m an SEO freelancer working with B2B and B2C clients across the globe. I’m from Shropshire, England, but thanks to the freedom from my freelance career, I now work from my conservatory in the beautiful Scottish Highlands.
I have over 8 years of experience in Digital Marketing and as a DigitalProject Manager. Back in 2020, I decided to go freelance and refine my skills from marketing generalist to SEO specialist. It’s been an adventure and a fruitful one at that.
Q: Please describe your previous work as an employee.
A: I worked for 5 years in marketing; 3 years in marketing agencies, and a couple of years in-house.
Q: What was the point where you decided to become a freelancer?
A: My story is a bit unique in that between March 2019 and March 2020, I quit my full-time job in an agency to cycle around the world. I got as far as Vietnam before covid ended my trip, I was sent home on the last flight available at Ho Chi Minh airport. When I returned home, we were amid covid and my employee couldn’t take me back due to the uncertainty, so I started working in a supermarket.
Luckily, during the last two months of my cycling trip, I signed up for Upwork and started writing blogs for $15/blog. Freelancing wasn’t necessarily something I decided to do, it was a means to an end. Since I was working in the supermarket from 2 am – 9 am picking online shopping during the pandemic, I could come home and freelance during the day. It was exhausting, but within 12 weeks, I had enough money to cover all of my bills and freelance full-time.
Q: What are the challenges you’re facing as a freelancer?
A: The biggest challenge that I face is not constantly working. As a freelancer, my business is an extension of my life and being, so I find it hard to put the PC down. It’s uncommon for me to work 16 hours at the PC. Admittedly, I LOVE what I do, so it is partly a choice I make. But it’s fair to say it’s not sustainable for me to do this, nor is it healthy. I need to make more time for myself, so I don’t burn out.
Q: What can you advise a beginner freelancer?
A: I have 4 main tips that I shared on my TikTok:
- If you’re using a freelancer platform, like Upwork, which I highly recommend, then fill out your entire profile. Don’t leave anything blank. Get a portfolio up there, and get testimonials even if you have to find something from a connection, a family member or a friend.
- Start with a low rate and build up. This one can ruffle a few feathers, but if you do it right, you can build up fast. I more than doubled my rate in months, and in the last two years, I’ve gone from $15/hour to $150/hour and more.
- Apply to relevant jobs only. As a new freelancer, it can feel logical to apply to everything, but you’re much better at applying to a few jobs and applying well. If you apply to loads of jobs, you burn out, and it quickly becomes miserable.
- Relax, and I know how annoying that can sound, but If it doesn’t all fall into your lap as quickly as you’d like it to, don’t give up. I have three years of sales experience behind me, and I’ve always been a natural! Take your time and enjoy the process. If you’re feeling relaxed and happy, you’ll come across better in your proposals too. Weirdly enough, clients can sense desperation, so let it go and enjoy the journey.
Q: How to handle the inflation as a freelancer?
A: Inflation isn’t really something I’ve had to worry about. When it comes to my rates, they are always rising as I am still quite new to this, so I am learning about pricing, developing processes, and upskilling myself so that I can keep charging more.
I’ve built a pipeline of prospects, so there are more than enough work opportunities that I don’t need to worry about losing my job or being unable to pay the bills. I’m very lucky, but I’ve also worked hard to achieve this.
Q: How are you getting new clients?
Q: Name one mistake you did as a freelancer?
A: I learned about project-based/value-based pricing too late! I wish I’d also read more business books and built my LinkedIn community sooner.
Q: How can potential clients find you?
A: My social media sites are my primary means of connecting with potential clients. You can connect with me through the following ones:
Many people were forced to adapt to the new conditions when the pandemic hit. Because of it, Zoe had to work in a supermarket to pay the bills, unable to return to her previous marketing job. That was the moment when she had to start thinking about new ways of earning, which led her to explore the topic of freelancing.
The road to becoming a freelancer was tough for Zoe. She spent most of the day working. Her mornings were spent on applying for freelancing projects, and her evenings on a shift at the supermarket. Every morning, she opened her computer and began searching for additional work.
At first, Zoe managed to find freelancing work at minimum wage, and as her portfolio got enriched, she gradually increased her pricing. It took almost three months of hard work until she could cover her bills and take on freelancing full-time.
One obstacle she faces, which is very common for freelancers, is that she still has to overcome working too many hours. Time and task management are crucial. When doing freelance jobs, there is no one to organize that for you. You have to be meticulous with it and ensure not to overwhelm yourself. Apply only to relevant jobs, execute them promptly, and enrich your portfolio.
Zoe’s last piece of advice to freelancers is to take their time. Everyone’s story is different, and the blueprint to becoming a successful freelancer is not carved in stone. Enjoy the process and reap the rewards afterward. When you’re comfortable and joyful, it shows in your proposals. Clients can detect distress, so abandon it and enjoy the ride.