My business journey – the first year

My freelancing journey started just over than a year ago when I was working as a Community Manager in a local social media agency, but I wasn’t happy. When I first got this job, I was over the moon about the opportunity, but the reality wasn’t that bright. Don’t take me wrong, I don’t mind hard work! But I do mind unfair treatment and being constantly overloaded.

One of the things I’ve learned going through a few marketing agencies is, that many of them have the same ills. From the outside, they look cool, trendy and so much fun, but it’s just all glitter on the top.

The dream and my ultimate life purpose

I always knew that my ultimate career goal is to me on my own. My mum has her own business and I always loved the idea of being free to do whatever I want. Especially in social media, I can work from anywhere around the world where I can get electricity and wifi. My dream was to be my own boss and travel the world.

After being badly let down from my last agency, my self-confidence was damaged. Also, it has been only two years since I moved to the UK. A country with a completely different economic level (living expenses on rent, transport and fun), language, and culture than my homeland in the Czech Republic. At first, I started looking for another job, but it never worked out because subconsciously I didn’t believe the new job will be any better than my last job.

The first breakthrough in my journey was meeting with a business mentor and hearing that my business idea isn’t completely crazy, but otherwise, that it sounds pretty good. (Thanks, Ed)

Luckily, I’ve already had one or two freelance clients and a few leads from one of my contacts from earlier. This small income and small savings gave me the courage to give myself 3 months to try my luck as a freelancer before I’ll have to get a job, any job.

Starting again

My first month was a lot about learning how to get in front of potential customers. I’ve been already doing pretty well on social media, but my network was international and I wasn’t sure how to leverage it properly. I had to build my own website and price list and then I announced to the world that I’m open for business…

I’ve tried everything from market research and cold emailing and cold calling (I hate calling people even if I know them) and networking. Yes, the scary N word. I’ve thrown myself out there and started going to at least two or three networking events a week. I’ve also started volunteering for charities, not-for-profits and social enterprises. But mostly, I’ve got to know many wonderful people who were in the exactly same situation as me (unemployed, not wanting to go back, trying to build something on their own). Some of them years ahead, some of them only months or weeks.

I’ve soon realised that I’m not alone, that people (freelancers) are incredibly friendly and supportive bunch of people. I’ve received a warm welcome to many different groups (online and offline) and was offered lots of support!

My niche

In my last job, I had the opportunity to work with big national and international brands from many sectors, but I never liked the way Marketing Managers treated us – agency employees. The attitude often was – we pay you lots of money, so you will do what we say – not the way it should be – we pay you for your expertise, so do what you believe is the best. I didn’t want to be in this situation again and that’s why I decided to focus on small and medium businesses with less company bureaucracy and inside politics.

Working with small businesses, startups and social enterprises is challenging and rewarding at the same time. Businesses like this usually don’t have big budgets for marketing, but they also usually need help with marketing the most!

The most fulfilling work is with social enterprises as they have strong sense of purpose and moral values.

Fast forward until now

In one year a lot has changed. I’ve started with an aim of simply just being able to support myself from freelancing. Right now, I’m working towards building a company, that would connect freelancers from digital marketing under one umbrella that could offer agency quality services to small businesses. I realised that I love collaborating with other people, helping businesses grow and establish sustainable businesses. Now it’s not just about providing social media management. It’s much more than that!

… Watch this space!