Here we are, 8 weeks into freelance and I feel I could easily progress this blog post into a book. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me within the transition to freelance. I’m incredibly touched by all the support from clients, fellow freelancers and people from all walks of life that I’ve spoken to over the last 8 weeks. I couldn’t have asked to be in a better place than I currently am and hell-bent on trying to repay the favour somehow!
The industry, to me, is unrecognisable, I can see that my professional knowledge has been narrowed dramatically being in-house. What an eye-opener the last 8 weeks have been.
After around 5 weeks into freelancing, I had to stop taking on new clients. I remember setting up my work flow for the week ahead and requiring 93 hours in order to deliver, I’m still working my way through this backlog. Lip service, poor communication, unreliable and lack of results/deliverables are the polar opposites to what my core values are as a freelancer. How I arrived there, I think, is worth writing about and I want to go into it in more depth throughout this blog post, the industry feels to be in a very strange place and people are screaming out for genuine support.
White label services can be incredibly dangerous.
White label is basically being a resource for a marketing agency, as a freelancer. As far as the customer is aware you are an employee. I think most agencies farm some work to third parties as it’s increasingly difficult to find experienced staff these days.
There is no hiding the fact that the accounts that land on your plate are either problematic, troublesome or at a point of leaving. It is often the result of an agency being unable to deliver and need third party advice (some are genuinely too busy and need more resource). There are some accounts which have been through 3 to 4 freelancers before landing on your portfolio. Now where is the danger? In the voice of Walter White, the freelancers are the danger. Why? I’m speaking with agency owners who have completely shattered their reputation through incompetent freelancers, causing untold damage. I say untold because the freelancer and agency are under a NDA.
When I speak to agencies I hear horror stories about freelancers revoking access to the agency and their client (how do you explain that one to a client?) to freelancers putting clients on the brink of leaving due to not showing for important meetings, dropping out last minute or just not bothering to show up at all. Not showing up to a PPC meeting when you are PPC expert puts the owner (who’s not a PPC expert) into a horrendous position. Especially when the meeting was a 3 hour drive away (true story).
I’ve been really lucky, I’ve landed 5-6 agencies that I really enjoy working with. I’ve got so many Outlook profiles and signatures, I’ve got more identities than Jason Bourne’s safety deposit box. Providing a safe pair of hands and 12 years experience has really opened the door to some tier-1 calibre clients for me. If you are an agency looking to run with white label, you need to trust the freelancer or police the arrangement heavily. The demand can be so high that the choice of freelancers may be more desperate than sense.
When I’ve been able to win agencies new business or retain problematic ones, there has been a massive landslide in agencies handing over a further 5-6 accounts each, completely swamping my time. If you are a freelancer let me tell you, white label can shred you if you are entering an arena you aren’t proficient in. Everyone is looking to you with answers but if you are willing to put the graft in then it’s likely you will learn more white label in weeks than years in-house. No accounts are the same and it’ll test you but you will accumulate knowledge like there is no tomorrow.
I genuinely love working on my direct client’s accounts, I’m still in afterburn mode from the backlog and I’m playing catch up but wow, I absolutely log on each morning with a smile on my face. Working with products that improve quality of life, lingerie stores, PPE brands, student letting companies, wholesale carpet suppliers, fashion suppliers, PLC food distributors, just naming a few of me 25+ strong portfolio – the industry diversification is incredible and I’m learning key workings from one company, applying my expertise and cross applying to help other companies in my portfolio. It’s really developing me as a marketeer for the betterment of my client base.
One part of this role I really love, and I really didn’t think I would, is visiting clients and better understanding their business to be able to do a better job. As someone who is really introverted and would rather just sit in front of a laptop every day, I’m a completely changed person. I’m actually trying to get out more and meet clients because every time I do, I learn something more about their product or business, to see their passion for what they do is always incredible. I often find it a privilege to be working with them, being selected to drive their brand forward and do everything I can do increase incredible results.
I genuinely do want to thank everyone who has supported me going freelance, it’s a decision I really regret not taking sooner.
Stay tuned, I’m working on a brand new case study section to my site and also a few projects I’m really excited to announce.