#10 A Guide on How to Work As a Digital Marketing Freelancer With Claire Millward [Escape Your Boring Job Stories]
Today I’m interviewing Claire Millward. Claire is a digital marketing consultant. She’s based in South Africa and works remotely for a Swiss blockchain company.
Claire, please introduce yourself and tell us more about your current job.
I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. I studied in Cape Town at the university of Cape Town and did a triple major degree in economics, organizational psychology and media and writing, which set me up quite well to start a career in digital marketing.
At the moment I’m working for a company called Nomad Now, the first digital hiring platform in South Africa. It was started by Ross Peyton, the founder of Peyton Personnel, a 23-year-old recruitment firm servicing the financial services industry in South Africa with top C-suite talent. Ross found a gap in the market and decided to digitize his existing business. Basically Nomad Now cuts out the middleman in the hiring process.
I started as the first employee of Nomad Now in January 2018. I did basically everything from testing items and logging them on Gyra, creating the first marketing strategy, to meeting with the first few clients. It’s been three years now and the platform has grown to 80,000 to job seekers and about 500 top clients, who are large players in the financial services industry, as well as advertising agencies.
As the head of marketing, I manage about three people and the business is going really well. We provide talents to a whole lot of top South African companies, and we actually branching out into the UK and Australian markets. So we will be providing the UK and Australian companies with top South African talent. We hope to really make waves in the UK and Australian markets by providing them with freelance remote talent from South Africa at Nomad Now.
I’m actually also working for two blockchain organizations in Zug in Switzerland. The first one is the Finka Token project. Finka Token is one of the first security tokens, which allows investors from any approved jurisdiction to invest in cattle ranching as an asset class. People can go and purchase the token via Tokengate or Area to Invest, or even using as a Swiss ISIN number. This entitles them to a share of the net operating revenue of the La Pradera cattle ranch in Bolivia which has been running and has been profitable for the last 20 years.
I hope that our concept will be copied and used for other assets, such as gold and property buildings. It’s been a huge privilege to be part of something that’s so innovative and something that is at the forefront of financial technology.
Lastly, I’m doing digital marketing for Crypto Valley Journal, also based in Zurich, which gives readers an insight into everything to do with blockchain; there are educational articles, there’re update articles, background articles, the interviews… If you want to learn anything about the crypto space, I highly recommend visiting Crypto Valley Journal, as there’s a lot of topical and insightful and informative content and a lot of educational content, which deals with the basics of investing in blockchain, how to buy Bitcoin, the different types of wallets you can use.
Those are my three projects for now. And a little bit later, I’ll explain how I got into them, but I’m super lucky. I think it’s super exciting to be a remote digital marketer.
How did you first start freelancing? How did you get to know people in Switzerland?
It’s actually quite interesting, almost by accident. This is why I really believe that while you can set goals and objectives, sometimes life actually just works out in a different way. And it’s actually the correct path.
I was looking for full-time jobs somewhere in Europe, in Germany, in Amsterdam or in London. It’s quite difficult to get sponsored for a job in Europe if you’re on a South African passport. Also, because I’m quite young at this point, it was only two years into my career that I started looking for all these jobs.
I applied for lots and lots and lots of jobs. I went for quite a few interviews, and even was offered two where the contracts were signed, but when it came to securing the visa, we weren’t able to meet the requirements.
I worked hard at networking and connecting to people on LinkedIn and I said I’m the head of marketing for the startup in South Africa, and I’m keen to explore and broaden and get a job in Europe. I just connected with loads and loads of people every day. I think I spent one or two hours connecting every day, sending my CV out.
I got in touch with Jason Smyth and Dehnam Preen, and I asked if they know of anyone or anything in Europe. They were part of Everlabs, the blockchain developers, and they created the wildcards.worlds site, which raises funds for animal conservation using the blockchain. They’re originally from South Africa.
Furthermore, they referred me to the Finka Token project, where they had developed the website and I was afforded the amazing opportunity of setting up the Finka Token marketing portfolio. That’s how I got into the Finka Token. Luckily, it was all remote. It was an amazing opportunity because I was working for a Swiss company, but living in South Africa.
Roger Darin, who is my manager, at Finka Token, he’s just been also amazing, a great mentor and also very helpful. He actually referred me to Crypto Valley Journal. I started doing some translations for them and developed from there.
You just have to try and put in a lot of hours and eventually, something good will come from your intentions. I really feel lucky. It was not the path I intended, but if I look back now, it’s probably the best path I could have had.
What was your exact strategy with the cold outreach to people on LinkedIn?
Working with Nomad Now has taught me about the power of LinkedIn.
When we first launched, we just wanted to expose people to the company and we realized that you could connect on mass with people. So that sparked the idea.
Secondly, I would send a little bio about myself as well as attached my CV. It was a really short message, when you connect with people, you only have 250 characters to say, hi there, I’m Claire, I’m the head of marketing for Nomad Now, South Africa’s first enter-in-recruitment platform. I’m looking for opportunities in the UK. The results were amazing, many people were happy to connect.
I had tons of phone calls, lots of awesome responses. Once people would connect, I’d send them my CV. Especially in the UK, I had loads and loads of awesome responses and people really did want to help.
Don’t be scared. The worst thing that can happen is that someone doesn’t respond and if they don’t respond, it’s likely that it’s in no way personal to you. Put yourself out there, it’s a numbers game.
If you connect to 200 people, two people will have something for you. In general, people are excited to chat with you. And obviously they are flattered…if you reach out to someone and say: Hey, can you help me.
I would say LinkedIn is a great tool. You have to be persistent. You have to be patient. If people don’t reply, they are super busy and they might see invitation on your message, and reply months later.
How do you organize and structure your remote work?
At first, it comes down to experience.
When I first started working for Nomad, I wanted to travel to an au-pairing job in Italy, in Positano on the Amalfi coast. I was working for Nomad and I was au- pairing, which was a lot of work, but It was a great experience. It actually taught me that remote work needs to be taken very seriously.
In terms of how I manage my remote work, I think the number one thing is communication and also setting boundaries around your communication, because it’s very easy to be always available.
I don’t have Telegram notifications turned on on my cell phone durign the whole day. I turn it on at 8am, and at 5pm, it goes off.
I have Slack to chat with everyone at Nomad, but other than that, there’s no communication outside of the working hours, unless it’s something urgent.
If you’re not in the office, it’s very easy to sit on your phone at night and answering calls or messages.
Secondly, it’s about managing expectations and being very upfront about the deliverable.
I try to drive the project and to drive the work and to set what needs to be done in the upcoming week. These are the barriers, or these might be the pain points and this is how we’ll overcome them, but this is what’s on the agenda for the week.
Also, what I try to do is to be a step ahead of the client in terms of the tasks. Trying to foresee what clients may need,and try to follow up on what you need and also to keep them updated. So if there is something that you remain to deliver, but you couldn’t, let them know in advance. That’s quite important to not over promise and under deliver.
If you cannot do them, the client won’t be upset If you say upfront what can be done within the week. You need to be really realistic and you need to not be afraid of it. You’re not going to let anyone down if you are realistic; you’ll be letting people down if you overpromise and underdeliver.
Be gentle on yourself. Just because you are far away, doesn’t mean you need to overcompensate and try to do mountains and mountains of work. Set the tone and set the standard.
Another thing is to try to be ahead of your clients. Set all the tasks, let them know about all the tasks you want to achieve, use the ticker board in the beginning just to show them everything you’re doing and everything that’s going to come up.
The last tip is to focus on your core offerings. Don’t try to be a unicorn, to be a Jack of all trades. Clients really appreciate if you can offer three to five services of very high standard, very high quality. I try to focus on brand strategy, social content creation, social content planning, publication and scheduling. You need to keep it simple. Don’t try to do everything, clients want quality. And I think quality lies in simplicity.
How to be a step ahead of a client?
What’s really important is in the beginning of a project, you need to take time to create a strategy which means that you’re not working randomly, but from a very solid foundation. You go through it with your plan and then you do items based on that strategy.
The strategy could be for three months and then your to-do list could be for three months. For example, your client has asked you to run the digital marketing portfolio, you take one or two weeks to create the strategy, then you form the strategy. You take what you need to do, create a particular to do list and you add that to notion, and then you just go with it.
From there, you run with the strategy. You find out what the client needs in the very beginning. You spent quite a bit of time deciding on what they want and how you’re going to achieve it. And then you just run with it.
Another thing is being very communicative with your client, talking to them every day, saying, I’m working on this, I’m working on that, I need those reviewed. Meetings are really important, a once a week catch up where ideas come up.
In terms of being a step ahead of the client in digital marketing, if you look at it like a skeleton structure, every digital marketing portfolio needs SEO, needs a brand strategy; It needs a social strategy. If you have a template for digital marketing portfolio, and you apply that template to the brands that you are managing, it’s not going to change. Every brand that wants to be present in terms of the digital space will have to have the same elements. You need to be mindful of that and to be aware that you need to apply that to all your different times. I think it’s also about setting up tasks beforehand and then running with them. You create your strategy, then you decide on your strategy. Then you create the task list and then you run with it.
What’s the best way to structure client meetings when you do remote work?
With any type of work you have objectives. From your objectives, you have your to-do list. Then you’ll have your results. And from your results, you’ll have your learnings.
It’s about having a formulaic approach. So you’ll start your meeting for example on the Tuesday. You’ll talk about your objectives for the previous week and what you did, then you’ll talk about the results and what happened. Next, you’ll talk about what you learned. After that you’ll talk about what you want to do in the next week.
If you have your strategy; then you have your to-do list; then you break your to-do list into week-by-week tasks, or maybe the client has a task. Maybe they suddenly want a content plan to focus on a product in a certain light.
It might sound little boring, but it’s important to list every single thing that you need to do, because sometimes I question myself and I’m like, have I done enough work? Have I delivered? How’s the quality?
When you are able to be very organized and detailed about every single task you’re doing, it really helps. Every week, write down your objectives and your to-do list. And then obviously you’ll follow the structure of the meeting where you’ll say, okay, this is what I did, these were the results, this is what I learned, and this is what we need to do next week.
In those meetings, it’s a great time for the team to discuss ideas. Lots of the time you’ll chat about the work. And then they’ll have a great idea. The team will run with it or say: Oh no, let’s not do that.
Conversation and talking is important. Just because you’re remote doesn’t mean you’re completely remote. You always have video tools and this helps to connect and to be on the same page. And it helps the relationship, it builds trust. Maybe you can have a little bit of time to talk personally about going on holiday or what your weekend was like, the way that it breaks the ice.
People you’re working with are also human. It’s crucial to be in good personal relationship with yourself. Especially amongst women, we have this kind of like fear that we’re not doing enough or that we need to do more. You need to trust yourself and go into the meeting with confidence. You need to know that your work has probably been great.
Any other tips about how to lead client meetings and present your work to a demanding client?
You have these meetings and everything’s so exciting and everyone has amazing ideas and it can actually get a bit overwhelming.
It might take time, but it’s really important to extract details like…what did we decide on in this meeting,what are the objectives, what is the to do list, what does everyone’s small task?
And actually it makes it much more simple. Everyone knows the tasks they have to do. Just extract the core elements of what needs to be done and do not get overwhelmed.
My basic message is to keep things simple. The quality of your work might suffer a little bit because you feel a bit overwhelmed and you don’t have the clarity of mind.
It’s all about breaking things up into bite sizes and using those little small steps to achieve the big goal. You’re never going to be confident and calm about your work if you think of it as a massive mountain you need to climb.
But if you think of it as tiny steps, week by week, then it helps to make you feel calm and to allow you to be as creative as possible and to problem-solve. In today’s working world, problem solving and critical thinking skills, as well as creativity are probably the top three skills you need to really succeed and to set yourself apart.
And breaking things up into small pieces and being very detailed about meetings makes a big change.
What type of services do you offer to your clients?
My services start on the strategy side. So I’ll do a deep dive and create a branding strategy.
Well, firstly, I’ll create an overall digital marketing strategy that comprises of SEO, social website and community management. It’s about strategy.
My favorite thing to do is a branding strategy where I apply a brand equity, brand personality, I find that fascinating. It’s the AECOM model of brand personality. It’s just a social media strategy, SEO strategy, community management strategy.
From there, I do social media content creation as well as scheduling and publication of it. I’m sure everyone in digital marketing who is involved in social will understand that it can take a very long time. You need to have a huge attention to detail for this, but I do blog posts for SEO, as well as general blog posts.
Then I also look at the website and check if it needs updated wording, or any updates in line with any developments within the project.
There’s also a bit of project management. If there’s a different partner that comes on, or if they are service providers like other content creators or blog writers, I have to manage them and liaise with them about their services and work. I really enjoy project managing because things get done so much better when there’s more people involved. It’s really fun. I find to give people the freedom and autonomy to do what they want in terms of content creation and blog writing and let them have their creativity.
I’m so lucky that I work with one of my best friends at Nomad Now, and she does all the content creation and graphic design. We make such a good pair because I’m not that great at graphic design.
I also run social media ads as well as on the analytic side, collect the data in terms of the results from social media ads: Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, Instagram ads, Twitter ads.
It’s working with link tracking to understand the results of the ads and to do comparisons as to why certain ads performed better than other, also a little bit of data analysis. I really enjoy considering that I have a background in economics. There are quite a few nuances that you need to be aware of when setting up social media ads.
You need to be really careful and that’s something I like about social media. I really do believe that marketing is changing and that it is a two way conversation and you can’t just pay a hundred thousand around and get a million views if you have a terrible app.
You need to be really mindful that the ads you’re producing are relevant and add value. I think that’s very interesting because previously, marketers could just buy up space and their ads are beingshown on social media. Your ad is given a relevant score, so it’s always interesting to try and achieve good relevance rating so that your ads are actually seen.
What is the best social media platform to run ads related to blockchain?
Obviously there’s a thriving blockchain community on Twitter. There’s a lot of conversation, Twitter is a conversational platform.
Number one learning is — you have to add value and you have to be relevant. You need to look at your audience and consider if your audience is going to want to see that content.
If you have amazing graphics and videos and if you’re in art, and you have your art on blockchain, then maybe Instagram would be your best choice.
On LinkedIn, you have a banner ad, which is really cool. It’s a text ad at the top of the page. That’s my favorite ad on LinkedIn. It takes out the top of the page that appears before everything..
Once again, simplicity is the key.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve been with Nomad Now since 2018. I want to see it succeed. I believe it will completely succeed. So please visit www.nomadnow.co if you need any flexi or permanent talent at a really good rate or South African talent. If you’re UK or Swiss based, it’s going to be very cost-effective. That’s one of my clients.
And then I have Crypto Valley Journal and Finka Token.
What I want to do is I want to formalize what I’m doing at the moment in terms of consulting to three companies. I will be probably launching my own little marketing agency in 2021 that I’ll focus on these three clients, but I want to start building my own brand in terms of the marketing services that I offer.
So please, watch out for the launch of my website references. I’ll probably start to take more clients within the next six months, because I’m very focused on quality and keeping things simple. I’m hoping to just take what I’m doing now, my three jobs, my consulting work, and grow it. Also, I want to bring other people, other talented marketers into it and reach out to other brands.
I’ve loved this way of working. I think it’s the base for creativity. And hopefully in some way I can make a tiny difference.
You are experienced in working with blockchain companies. How can other blockchain companies find you?
I’m very interested in blockchain and I believe it’s the future. It’s already present in a lot of areas.
If you’re looking for a passionate blockchain marketeer, please contact me.
Just connect with me and I’ll be very happy to chat. I will be launching my website probably in January or February.
Once my website is up and running. I’ll get Ivana to put the link into the description, I’m always willing to chat. If anyone has an interesting project or wants to share any thoughts or wants to learn or needs anadvice, I am open. I’d love to connect.
How to start freelancing? Your top 3 tips.
I think I mentioned this before, but it’s really important to be an expert in three core services. It could be brand strategies, social media, content creation, and SEO or strategy and SEO blog writing.
Firstly, focus on your three skills and market yourself as an expert in those three skills. Keep it simple and keep it high quality.
Secondly, use some platforms. What’s amazing about the world in 2020 is that you can literally sign up to freelance or job platforms and you can get a job.
I’d recommend Nomad Now in South Africa. Worksome based in London is fantastic. They are very detailed in terms of projects. You list your core services and they will match a project to your profile. And it’s also project-based.
HelloMaas is based in Amsterdam. It’s for marketing freelancers. I actually did some work for them last year for about six months or some company. The founder is Louise Dawn, and they also have a HelloMasters podcast.
My third tip is to start small. You don’t need to become a full-time freelancer in one day. If you’re thinking of going freelance, maybe you can take a small freelance project alongside your existing job.
I think we need to remember that most people don’t have the financial support to suddenly quit their job and the next day become a freelancer. You need to be quite cognizant of that.
Also, it makes the whole thing less overwhelming. Once you’ve got the freelance work, go into it. You just need to go bit by bit
If you feel dissatisfied with your current boring job, don’t worry you are not alone! 🙏🏻🙇🏻♂️❤️
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