Today I’m so excited to interview one of our community members, Kayli from The Freelance Hustle! She helps freelancers, and hopeful freelancers start and market their businesses. Kayli has a background in marketing, and owns her own freelance business. She is passionate about helping others go after their dreams, and offers a ton of detailed, useful information to help them do just that!
6 months from now, I’ll be sitting down with Kayli again to see where her blogging journey has taken her!
1. Tell us about your blog: The Freelance Hustle
The Freelance Hustle is all about helping freelancers make the most of their careers. Since I started my career as a freelancer, I’ve always had friends ask me how I do it. I was giving bits of advice to so many people, I decided it was time to write it down and share it with the world.
I freaking love being a freelancer. I love the lifestyle and the possibilities it presents. I also know a lot of people working in jobs they hate because they think they have to. There are so many opportunities for people on this career path now, they just need the resources to be able to find them. I am trying to give people those resources, along with some lessons learned and a healthy dose of encouragement.
2. You talk about making the escape from the corporate world. So many people (especially creatives) dream of doing this everyday. How did you make your escape plan?
I kind of stumbled on freelancing by accident. I was new to Montreal and on the job hunt, and I found a part-time online research job, through Craigslist I think. They asked me to sign up for an oDesk account to track my time and make payments that way. I had no idea anything like it existed. A few weeks later I got a call back from an interview I’d done, and started a full time gig doing digital marketing at a web software company, so I gave my notice to the online research job and kind of forgot about oDesk.
Then one day I got an email from oDesk, just an auto-reminder ‘come back, apply for jobs’ type email. And I thought, why not!? So I filled out my profile and looked around a bit and I got a gig with a marketing agency doing some digital marketing work. It was only 5 or so hours a week and I just used that to supplement my income.
A couple of months went by and I started really hating my full-time job. I had a long commute, I wasn’t doing the kind of work I enjoy or excel at, and I just generally didn’t like the company. Meanwhile, the side gig was asking me if I wanted to take on more work and I was WAY more in to that than my actual job! I was also getting invitations to apply for gigs on oDesk on a regular basis. I knew it was time to make a plan.
I worked out a deal with my boss that I would go down to 3 days a week for a trial period of a few months. Full disclosure, I was quite ill at this time so my employer was willing to give me more time off to rest. Freelancing worked out because I could do it from bed if I had to, and it didn’t put the same drain on me as my regular job did. Anyway, I took on a few more freelance clients and balanced it all. Really, the beginning is all about balance, budgeting, and hustling to get clients. After a couple of months I felt secure enough to start freelancing full time, and left the corporate world forever.
3. You currently offer consulting on your website to help people make their own escape plans. How’s that going? Any success stories?
It’s going well so far! I am working with one entrepreneur who is planning to leave her job before the year ends to offer freelance consulting services to online businesses. We are making plans to get her website and her information products ready. She hasn’t launched yet but her following is already growing and we are developing big plans for her content in the next couple of months.
I’ve also been helping my partner, who is a freelance musician. He left his job as a boat mechanic in May to pursue the dream of making a living from music (most would call it a pipe dream). I kind of used him as a guinea pig for my consulting service and we spent a bit of time making a plan for him. One suggestion I made to him was to start a blog to bring in regular traffic to his website. He started writing a blog about music gear and within a few weeks he was interviewing some pretty big names in Canadian music about their gear setup. It has brought a lot of attention to his website, and he loves doing it! He implemented a few other suggestions for his website and marketing techniques, and he is now booked solid with paying gigs!
4. On your blog you offer some amazing, detailed advice to help freelancers do everything from build their portfolios, to using social media. How did you learn how to market yourself as a freelancer?
I have a marketing background, and have been working in digital marketing for about 8 years. I definitely apply some of my knowledge from marketing a regular business to my own business. It’s all about understanding your target market and speaking to those people in a way that appeals to them. For freelancers, and many online business owners, social media is the most important thing. I’ve been managing social media programs since the beginning of my career, so it’s familiar territory for me.
There are also a lot of resources out there for creative business owners and I have applied some of that learning to freelancing. There are so many really smart people running businesses and writing blogs that are totally willing to share their knowledge and help you out. I currently love ByRegina.com, house-of-bliss.com, Sarah Von Bargen, and obviously The Blog Loft.
5. What do you do to avoid creative burnout?
I try to start my day on a positive note by not checking email until after I meditate and do 10 or 15 minutes of yoga. That helps to set the tone for the day.
If I am starting to feel distracted or disengaged with my work, I usually try to take a 10 or 15 minute break, or switch tasks. If I’m doing a lot of writing I will switch to something more visual. If I’ve been working with numbers and calculating expenses, I switch to something creative. If that doesn’t work I’ll take a longer break and go for a run, do some errands, or cook. Usually I can get back to it after. But if I really can’t, if I’m just too exhausted and my writing sounds like it’s coming from a 6-year-old, I just stop. Sometimes it’s important to just let yourself take a night off and watch netflix and eat a bag of Smartfood. Then in the morning I can start fresh, and feel good about not sending my clients terrible work because I was too tired to care.
Also, I make time for non-work things. On Tuesday nights I train with a group of people at my gym, and on Wednesday’s I run with a group of people to a bar. No, seriously. We’re called the Beer Runners and we run to a bar. I think it’s important to spend a bit of time every week with people who have no clue about the blogging/freelancing world. Otherwise I could seriously talk about nothing else and end up becoming really out of touch with the rest of the world.
6. What is your favorite part about freelancing?
So many things. I love that I can make my own schedule. I can work from anywhere and I don’t have to ask anyone to approve my vacation time. I love the variety of projects I get to work on and the people I get to work with. No two days are the same.
I love the community of people I’ve found online since I began this journey. I feel so much support and encouragement from this group of people, and working solo doesn’t feel lonely.
And I love the challenge of freelancing and being my own boss. I am constantly learning and growing in my career because of this path. When I worked a more corporate gig I felt totally stalled, disengaged, and complacent. I was worried about losing learning opportunities when going out on my own, but I’ve found it to be the opposite. I’m more fulfilled than ever.
7. Where do you see yourself and your business when we do an interview again in 6 months?
I want The Freelance Hustle to help as many people as possible to start their freelancing careers. In 6 months I hope to have developed a lot more resources to provide people – there will definitely be workbooks and guides on starting, marketing, and growing a freelance business.
I would also love to start offering freelance services through The Freelance Hustle, and get a couple of other freelancers on board. What could help freelancers more than sharing work!? I’m not sure if this will happen right away, it will depend on the growth of the community and the site. I think it’s a big goal, but those are the only kind to have!
8. Did you design your website yourself, work with a designer, or choose a theme?
I chose the evolve theme for WordPress, and spent countless hours tweaking it myself.
9. What platform do you run your blog from? (WordPress, Squarespace, Blogger?)
My blog is a self-hosted WordPress blog.
10. Do you consider yourself an introvert, or an extrovert?
Every personality test I take puts me right in the middle! I think I have more introvert tendencies than extrovert though. I prefer small groups of people, I panic at being the centre of attention, and I definitely recharge my batteries by taking some alone time.