Abi Rose is a content strategist, social media manager and copywriter based in Derbyshire. She’s passionate about working with fearless brands that want to inspire their customers. You can follow her on Instagram or visit her website. We talked to her all about being a freelancer, her motivations, experience and 2020 trend predictions.
W: Abirose.co I: instagram.com/abirosecreative
“As a freelancer, I think the biggest challenge I’ve had has been changing my mindset about self-employment. It’s a huge jump to go from waiting for payday each month to the unpredictability of freelance life.
You have to adopt a positive, can-do attitude and learn to embrace the unexpected. We’re often conditioned to be negative or pessimistic so I make a conscious choice to be proactive and solve problems before they arise.
I’d describe my career journey as unconventional. Growing up I loved art, fashion and cinema and while I was academically gifted, I knew university wasn’t for me – I wanted to get stuck into the world of work. Funnily enough, most of my relatives are either business owners or in vocational careers such as teaching and nursing – so I’m the first person in my family not to go to university.
After studying creative A Levels at college, I joined the visual merchandising training programme of an international high street brand. I adored the fast pace, being responsible for creative direction and looking ahead to future trends.
This was during the time when social media was exploding – suddenly we were looking at bloggers and Instagram profiles for inspiration. And the brand I worked for was starting to create their own social media channels. I would look at the images and wonder how I could change from styling products in store to styling them for social media.
I left my job and, for the next couple of years while working temporary jobs, fired off tons of applications to any brand I could think of before eventually landing an intern role at a social media marketing agency (a role originally meant for a student!).
Here, I managed social media accounts and wrote copy for household names, government agencies and loads of cool indie brands. It was incredible to be doing something I loved – and so rewarding to get great feedback from brands I admired.
But after the hectic environment of retail, an office environment felt stale and claustrophobic. And there was lots of dysfunction within the small team which I felt was hindering my development. I realised an agency was a fantastic place to learn, but not an ideal environment to grow.
After three years, I left and took a temporary job with a fashion brand, before building up enough contacts to go freelance. This was great as it gave me a sense of urgency – I literally needed to go freelance to make my rent.
I now work with a roster of fashion, health & beauty, lifestyle and interiors brands. It’s great to be able to devote myself to growing creative brands without the hindrance of dated agency processes and attitudes. I’m a total advocate for the freelance revolution!
My advice to women looking to follow in my footsteps is that your network is everything, so while it’s important to prioritise your own needs and business, make sure you behave ethically.
I hear so many stories about freelancers downloading email lists of agencies or ‘stealing’ clients from other freelancers. It may seem like a ‘sassy’ girl boss move at the time, but it’s not worth it in the long run. Always behave with integrity.
Although, if you come across a brand who isn’t being served by their current social media provider and you have some fresh ideas… pitch to them respectfully. Seize every opportunity.
How to manage a positive work/life balance
I love what I do so I’m always stealing away moments to do extra work! What I will say is that… the traditional 9-5 is dead. So if you want to work on Saturdays at your favourite coffee shop, or work from your bed on a Monday evening, go for it! Make work fun and intuitive – don’t feel restricted by routine.
If you do feel like things are getting on top of you, go back to basics. Get some fresh air, drink water or have a nap. And make sure you forge friendships with other business owners who get it.
When it comes to mental health in the freelance community, I believe we’re certainly more open about discussing it, which is great. Seeing all the recent posts on World Mental Health Day is proof of that.
I do worry it’s becoming performative rather than helpful though. Instead of posting something empty on Instagram – could you volunteer at a local community programme? Do a sponsored event for charity? Or even just reach out to your mates more often?
There’s also tons of support out there for freelancers, from coworking clubs to organisations that can help you get your head around finances. So don’t feel like you have to suffer in silence or feel isolated – or feel like you have to declare your issues on social media. You can keep things private if that’s what feels right for you.
Female mentors and role models in freelance
One of my biggest ‘breakthroughs’ as a freelancer was forming friendships with other female business owners. They offer valuable support, constant inspiration and always motivate me to reach my potential. I also look to people such as Eva Chen, Mary Portas and Tash Sefton who are brave enough to follow their passions.
I will say as well, always think about your ‘anti-mentors’. Whether that’s a terrible boss you had or a clueless manager, always turn a negative experience into a learning experience and ask yourself what you would do differently in their shoes.
The biggest benefit of freelancing is the freedom! To establish my own business values, create a routine that works for me and make my own decisions. I also earn three times more than I earned working at an agency, doing something I love. It may seem vulgar to discuss money in this way, but especially as a women it’s important to be open in order to close that gender pay gap.
My day can include anything from working on a copywriting project or scheduling social posts for brands to meeting with influencers and directing photo shoots. All with the goal of creating something beautiful, authentic and purposeful!
At the moment in terms of trends, we can’t move for Podcasts. But I think video, long form content such as blogs and email newsletters and having a killer website are the holy trinity of success. What if Instagram switched off tomorrow? You need to have a strategy that could withstand something like that.
For 2020, you need a way to bring that online following into the real world. So I see events, pop ups and workshops being the next big thing. We see a lot of beauty brands especially doing things such as masterclasses with big beauty stars – they’re effectively bringing YouTube or IGTV to life – and customers love how special it makes them feel. Immersive experiences are going to be huge, I know it!”