Emma Westley
Freelance Marketing Consultant
September 30, 2019

Interview with Emma, a freelance marketing consultant

Emma is thriving as a freelance marketing consultant—see her tips on managing client demands & making yourself marketable as a freelancer.

How did you get started with remote work?

I’ve actually been pretty lucky with a few jobs I’ve had over the years as I’ve worked on ‘global,’ dispersed teams and invariably then been able to work remotely. I worked for HP a while back and actually most of my team were based in San Francisco!

It certainly made for interesting working hours what with me being in the UK. More recently though, since November of 2018, I’ve been working as a freelance marketing consultant across a number of different clients, and so I’m able to do that fully as a remote worker.

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What are you working on?

With my background in tech, I’m now working across a number of different clients, mostly tech and all B2B. Most of my regular clients are UK based, but some ad hoc stuff comes up across the rest of Europe and even the US.

I do a broad range of activities for my clients – from setting out marketing plans and content strategies, to then executing against targeted campaigns, and even some copywriting thrown in as well.

I like the variety that freelance work brings, and also that it allows me to work on a little side hustle too!

Plus I think that all good marketers should have a good grip of both the strategic and the tactical. How do you know what to put in a strategy if you don’t know what’s working, right!?

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What's your typical work routine?

Well, unfortunately, I think I’ve been groomed too much by the 9 to 5! So I tend to start work around 8.30 am as if it was an office job, take lunch around 1 pm and do the whole Monday to Friday thing as well.

My big non-office things, however, are that I make sure I get some exercise every day, and I do tend to do work on the weekends as well just because it’s quieter and there aren’t as many emails coming in.

Oh, and I find I work longer in the evenings as well, just because I don’t like to leave things unfinished!

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Do you have a dedicated space to work?

I do, indeed. I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated office in the house where there’s lots of light and where I collect my novelty pens and notebooks!

My HUGE monitor is also a godsend. Honestly, I find I’m way more productive when I’m working off it – I suppose because it’s so big, I’m immersed in whatever task I’m doing.

Photo of Emma's Office Space

Photo of Emma's Office Space

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How do you stay on task?

By regularly checking that to-do list! Each time I finish a task, I’ll cross it off the list with great satisfaction and then move on to the next thing.

And if I find one particular task is taking longer than expected, I’ll break it down into sub-tasks that mean I can cross off more things!

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What do you like about remote work?

There are so many things! Mainly I love the flexibility it affords and the fact that I don’t waste time commuting and can use that time to get more stuff done.

It’s taken me a long time to realise that I’m much more productive in a calm and quiet environment without the distractions of an office.

And if I ever feel like I need some human contact, then the great thing is there are so many co-working spaces or even coffee shops that I can go to now.

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What do you not like about remote work?

Honestly, nothing! I think more companies should do it and more employees should push for it too. I really hope the remote revolution that’s taking off now continues because it’s so much better for both mental and physical wellbeing.

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What tools do you use to stay productive?

I probably go a bit overboard here. I have a separate notebook for each client, a master to-do list, a few Trello boards, a couple of LucidChart maps, oh, a whiteboard, a sketch pad, and the notes function on my iPhone.

It sort of depends on the type of work I’m doing too. But I’d say it’s my good old to-do list and pen and paper that keeps me most productive.

The act of writing things down is still the best tool to both help with creativity and make that commitment to do something.

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Do you have any advice for remote workers?

This is tricky because I think you have to find what works for you. I’ve found that still having a relatively structured day is great and also that separate zone for my office work rather than trying to work out of the kitchen or something.

One bit of advice for remote freelancers that work across a number of different clients – have a different notebook for each client, I find that really helps me manage all the different tasks.

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How do you decide which clients to take?

My first question is usually – is this a job where I have the right background to help? And that doesn’t have to be an exact background, and it could even be that I have the right mindset that can be applied.

Then it’s more of the softer stuff like do I ‘click’ with the client? Do I think they’re going to be reliable both from a payment perspective and from a day-to-day work perspective?

And finally, am I going to learn something from this work? You’ve got to keep learning so with every new client I always think about what’s in it for me from a development angle too.

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How do you decide priorities?

With the help of my to-do list! Usually, it’s a case of what’s the most urgent piece of work, or alternatively what’s going to have the most impact.

This has to come from being 100% aligned with the client too in terms of their objectives.

I make sure I set up weekly calls with each client from the start of engagement so that these objectives are monitored and the client is also happy that everything is on track.

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What contributes to being a successful freelancer?

For me personally, it’s the fact that I tried freelancing years ago and failed – mainly because there just wasn’t the ecosystem online that exists now.

You didn’t have Upwork or the other freelance sites, for example!

So I knew that coming into this stint how I was going to do things differently. And that involved having a constant pipeline of new opportunities always there.

That’s probably one of the most difficult things as a freelancer as you have to be your own salesperson too – but I’d say it’s one of the most important aspects, i.e. always having a plan b or even a plan c because you never know what will happen with your existing clients from one week to the next.

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Emma Westley

Emma Westley is a freelance marketing consultant specialising in Tech Start-up & B2B Growth Marketing. With over 15 years’ experience across digital, automation, demand gen and campaigns, Emma knows how to turn your ideas into plans, and your plans into tactics, for a successful marketing strategy that delights and delivers.

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