Meet Rob, a freelance Digital Marketer from the UK with a background in web design, content marketing & digital strategy.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into freelancing?
Ever since I was young, I have always been obsessed with making and creating things. In fact, one of my earliest memories as a child involves me pretending that I was sick to my parents. It was so I did not have to attend school but instead could stay at home to draw a pretend magazine I was working on at the time.
Back then, it’s safe to say that whatever I was working on probably wasn’t that good. However, my drive to continuously be creating has always stuck with me. These days, I provide marketing creative to clients via PeoplePerHour and contribute my insights to the Trendjackers digital marketing blog.
What was your previous job before deciding to go freelance?
Previously, I worked at an agency that specialised in providing digital services such as websites and social media to companies within the automotive sector. When I joined the agency, I had only recently graduated from university so you could say that the whole experience was somewhat of a trial by fire.
The massive learning curve going from academic theory to real life practice was disorientating, but over time I developed a really useful foundation of skills which has helped me massively in my creative pursuits. My time spent at this agency was a great experience. Working there allowed me to work closely with some fantastic brands. At our peak, we were managing over 250 websites and 150 social presences with advertising spends of over £200k per month.
How did you come across PPH?
Back in my previous role, we were occasionally tasked with creating promotional videos for clients. As a relatively young start-up, we adopted a bootstrapping approach in the early days which meant that often we would take on jobs before having the actual equipment we needed to fulfil the work.
One day my manager approached me to discuss an animated video that had been sold but required a voice actor. We’d tried using our internal team for the VA, but we couldn’t get it to sound quite right. Left with this problem, time was slowly running out and we didn’t have a solution yet. During a planning discussion, another member of the team approached me and let me know about PeoplePerHour, which he had been using to assist with some SEO overflow on his end.
A short while later, we found an hourlie on PeoplePerHour that matched our needs and just 48hs later we had acquired the final piece our project needed. Little did I know at the time, that just a couple months later I would be selling on PeoplePerHour myself. Later on that evening, I was browsing through some of the categories and I began to feel a little overwhelmed with the number of different jobs you could now easily access with PPH.
As I started to daydream about the larger scale projects that could now be made possible via a large, verified outsourcing network, I realised that as a buyer, there was a lot of power that could be drawn from PPH to help me create more complicated multimedia products and services.
Over the following months, I kept researching until I was more comfortable with the platform and when the time came to eventually leave the agency, I set up a new PeoplePerHour account. This time, however, it was not only as a buyer but also as a seller.
What is a typical day like for you?
When freelancing, there’s always an element of randomness and adventure to each day, so I try to keep myself quite flexible when it comes to my daily routine. Typically, I start my mornings with freshly pressed coffee and begin my work by checking emails, updating any existing clients and writing some proposals. It’s good to get these communication tasks out of the way early. This means you can move on and work on other things whilst you wait for replies.
Once my morning tasks have been completed I take a break in the afternoon to go for a walk, eat and catch up with the team of freelancers that I work with. This is a good time for us to bring up issues with our collaborative projects, or to share any news or insights anyone might have.
Then we move on to the late afternoon/evening and in my experience, I’ve found that this time is where the real magic comes to my creative work. I find it much better to do the most important tasks later on in the day when distractions are scarce. So I often tend to set aside the evening for the most time-intensive creative activities such as writing content, designing websites or planning marketing campaigns.
What was your first job like on PPH?
My first job on PeoplePerHour came in a couple of weeks after setting up my new profile. I had been spending some time researching other successful hourlies which helped me massively when it came to deciding how to position my own services. Once I uploaded a couple of different hourlies, I continued to tweak my listings and experimented with different hourlie titles, sales copy and price points until I landed my first project and eventually I was awarded a copywriting role for a well-known UK online retailer.
I was excited to land such a prominent client in such a short amount of time, so I decided to give this project some extra attention in order to impress the client and attempt to establish a more long-term relationship. When it came to submitting the work, I wanted to add some extra value. I mocked up a few complimentary images, which I thought acted as a nice gesture that may help me to secure any future work with this particular client.
This strategy definitely paid off and even a year later, I still do business with this brand directly through PeoplePerHour. Furthermore, with this strategy, I’ve also picked up a larger base of recurring customers. Things have certainly picked up since my first job on PPH, which means that these days I’m much busier. That being said, I still try to make time to surprise clients and add a sprinkle of extra value whenever I can.
How does freelancing compare to a 9-5?
The last year has been chaotic and bumpy, but it’s also been really interesting and lots of cool stuff has happened as a result of my decision to commit to freelancing on a full-time basis.
In my opinion, there are many benefits to a typical 9-5 and one of the most overlooked aspects is the inbuilt network of colleagues that will be there for you. It’s important to keep dedicated peers, as they can act as a motivational force in harder times and you can also learn a lot from them. Freelancing, on the other hand, allows for a lot more scope for personal growth – if you are able to self-motivate. Whilst at work, there will probably be a defined 3-5 year path set out for you, but with freelancing, your defined path is it’s exactly what you chose to make of it.
With that in mind, I’m very glad that I made the switch to freelance work, as in the last year I’ve had the opportunity to work on some awesome projects with many different and interesting brands. Freelancing has helped me to grow my skills in new areas and if I had otherwise spent my time in a conventional 9-5 job. I’m quite sure that I wouldn’t have had as many opportunities to grow and develop myself in the way that I have over the last 12 months.
What benefits have you found by using PPH?
Due to the frequency of proposals I’ve been sending via PPH since I joined, it’s allowed me to hone in on developing my sales & negotiating skills further. Proposing to new jobs on a regular basis is great because it allows me to pick and choose the type of work I’d like to be involved in. So on that basis, PeoplePerHour has been very useful for meeting new contacts and finding interesting projects.
Personally, I’m a fan of the hourlie system, as this allows me to manage an inbound sales pipeline that often makes sales on my behalf, whilst I’m asleep or away from my PC for any reason.
Nevertheless, just because hourlies worked out for me, it doesn’t mean it’s the only way to make sales. Earlier on in the year, I collaborated on a post with my friend Martin Barnes (another PPH freelancer) on the different benefits that a proposal-based strategy has over an hourlie-based strategy. If you’d like to check out his perspective on this, you can read the post here.
What are your top 5 tips for freelancers who are new to PPH?
- Make sure your profile is up to date and stands out visually
Visual imagery is very important on your profile, as it’s one of the few ways you can stand out to potential buyers browsing the site. Make sure to upload a decent cover photo/profile picture combination and ensure to use the portfolio space to show off your best pieces of work.
- Keep experimenting
Use a mixture of both Hourlies & Job Proposals to maximise your chances of being found. Constantly tinker with and explore different structures of hourlies and proposals to find what works best for you.
- Nobody said that it was going to be easy
Always remember that you are competing in an open market with lots of high-quality freelancers. Not getting enough work yet? Try something different and stick with what works.
- Don’t get disheartened
Your profile might grow a little slowly at first, so if you don’t achieve instant results straight away, work on researching your competition and adjust your approach accordingly. Remember once you’ve got a few decent reviews, you’ll find things get a lot easier.
- Get out more
You quit your job so you didn’t have to be cooped up in an office 24/7, so you might as well inject new energy into your day by going to do some work in the local cafe, at the park or a friends house. There are loads of collaborative workspaces popping up these days such as Neils Yard in London etc, so it’s really worth checking out if you want to avoid simply stagnating at home.
What does your future hold? Where would you like to take this?
Over the last year, I’ve met some vibrant, interesting characters as a result of PeoplePerHour and in the future, I’d like to continue my personal growth and add new, awesome pieces to my portfolio. I’ve got my sights set on a couple of things in the future, but personally, I’ve got a big passion for music so I would love work more with festival owners and record labels going forward.
If you’re reading this and you’ve got an interesting marketing challenge – swing by my profile and let’s discuss it.
What web browser do you use?
Google Chrome – I like the browser add-ons, some can be really useful.
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