Creating Your Own Rules - Brand Strategist Jenni Heffernan Brown
Jenni Heffernan Brown has had a pretty interesting path to freelancing success. Working for mega corporations, then to graduate school with a bit of freelancing on the side, and now teaming up with another freelancer to form an agency.
She’s never been one to thrive under strict rules set by others. A Straight-A student in high school, she was always in trouble for skiving, because she’d rather get the work done well and do other things on her own time, just like a freelancer!
Now the co-founder of a marketing agency, she’s thriving on coming up with her own systems and processes and rules that work for her and her business partner.
It took her years to get a sense of a work-life balance. Often having the urge to stay up until 2 am to work, she’s finally found herself more at ease letting go. She’s learned to step back and trust others to take on work, whether it’s her co-founder or other contractors. She even managed to spend a three-week vacation in Africa without access to WiFi, and didn’t tear her hair out worrying about work!
It was brilliant chatting with her about getting to the success she’s enjoying now, how to attract the best kinds of clients, and learning how to carve out time for personal projects.
Jenni is awesome and down-to-earth. Hope you have a great time listening to her!
- You don’t have to follow other people’s rules, but you need structure for success
- Make sure you give yourself time to pursue your own interests, and
- Think about how you can present your talents in a way to best attract potential clients
More from Jenni
Who the hell is Steve Folland?
Steve's a freelancer helping businesses use and make video & audio content in much better ways. Find out more at stevefolland.com, track him down on Twitter @sfolland or lay a trail of cake and he'll eventually catch you up.
Check out Steve's Being Freelance Vlog that documents his weekly wanderings and wonderings as a freelancer.
Transcription of Being Freelance podcat interview - Jenni Heffernan Brown and Steve Folland
Steve Folland: Hey, Jenni!
Jenni Brown: Hi!
Steve Folland: As ever, how about we get started hearing how you got started being freelance?
Jenni Brown: When I really think about my first sort of foray into freelance, I have to laugh because during high school I was on what they called attendance probation every single quarter because I never went to class. I had straight A's and I was getting great grades, but I was like, "Eh, do I have to be here? I'm kind of this independent spirit. I can like get my own work done on my own time." At the time, I just thought that school was overly regulated and had too many rules, but now I can totally say that I was like a baby freelancer from the very beginning.
Steve Folland: So, what happened after that?
Jenni Brown: After school ... So my first couple jobs were with some really big organizations. I worked with Taco Bell Corp, and PepsiCo, and to be honest they kind of felt like a prison. I wasn't really in creative roles, and I just felt like there were a lot of rules. It also just felt like you had to work there for maybe five years before you ever really working on anything interesting, which at the time for me as like an ambitious 20-something that can be really soul-crushing. So I kinda left big brands, and started working in marketing companies and with tech startups. I kinda had a foray into that world at the same time. That really felt like a golden ticket just because I was able to be creative. I was writing. I was designing. I was strategizing, but also being trusted as a really capable member of the team even though I was kind of early in the career, which felt really, really good.
Jenni Brown: From there I kind of fell into freelance, so fast forward a couple years. I'd been doing marketing with tech startup for maybe seven years or so, and I just kinda started to get disenchanted with my work, and mainly because I had started kind of working with target clients that were really too big for me to connect to. Like Samsung or Nabisco, and I just kind of started to realize I didn't really care if our click-through rates of like 1% help them make more money. So in 2012, I quit my job to go back to school, and get my Masters of Fine Art in writing. At that time, I wasn't really sure how I was gonna be making money, but fortunately my family had a little bit of breathing room, and they could afford for me to study the craft of writing while I was figuring out my next move.
Jenni Brown: And it was really in grad school that the freelance sort of came to life. I was doing some small freelance work on the side in partnership with who is now my business partner, Sophie, and in 2014 we decided to like officially join forces and create our brand strategy studio Prim'd Marketing. Even though in some ways today we're kind of starting to feel a little bit more like an agency, we're still born out of the tendance of freelance, which is that we work from home a lot of the time, and our flexibility in time is our own, and we really operate our business out of that freelance model.
Steve Folland: Cool. So how did you find your first freelance clients by yourself? How were you first finding work?
Jenni Brown: Well, I think I just responded to ... I basically went in it as a contractor to offer my writing, design, marketing support, to another small PR business. This is while I was in grad school, so my capacity for doing work was pretty small because I was writing all the time, but I found that I still wanted to be doing a little bit of the work on the side. Doing that freelance stuff ... I wanna say that PR opportunity, I wanna say that I like found it on a job board, or I found it on Indeed, or one of these places where I was pretty specific about wanting the parameters not to be full-time.
Jenni Brown: I was just kind of giving them a couple hours a month of some design and writing support. That was where I met Sophie because Sophie then came on to the team over there, and so we were kind of two freelancers operating for that PR group, but then also we both were doing other work on the side. So that's how we found that first one, but then once from there we kind of had some collaboration happening and things kind of rolled out.
Steve Folland: Cool. So how did it ... Who broached the subject, who went, "Do you know what? Maybe if we joined forces we could do this." Like how did that come about?
Jenni Brown: I did, and part of it was that the sort of PR group that we were both freelancing for, like at that point in time, we were both kind of contracted or freelancing for this group, and that group would pay us, but they had some changes in their clients structure. They said, "Okay, the freelance gig is up." As happens frequently as freelancers, things can change. We were kind of looking around and scratching our heads and saying like, "Okay, what do we wanna do now?" I was looking for more gigs, and she was looking for more gigs, and because we had had maybe like six months to a year of really having that in-house partnership of like what felt like an in-house feel, we kept pulling each other in on the gigs. We'd be pitching to a client and saying like, "Okay, Jenni is gonna do the writing portion, and Sophie is gonna be doing the promoting portion." It was actually a client who kind of planted the seeds, or a potential client, and he was like, "Great, who do I write that check to?"
Steve Folland: Yeah.
Jenni Brown: We were like ... I kinda just pull Sophie aside and I'm like, "What happens if we business? Do you wanna like kind of joint, team up together?" At first like I think my initial impression was that the client would write one of us a check, we would put it in the bank account, and then the other person would write the other person a check. It wasn't really this ambition of like let's make an agency. It was just still kinda stay in that freelance space, and over time, like I said, we are feeling a little bit more like an agency now, but our tendance for the first couple of years, we were really just operating as two freelancers maybe under the same brand just so people could write a check to one place.
Steve Folland: Yeah. So you set up as a proper company by then with a single bank account so that people could pay into that?
Jenni Brown: Right.
Steve Folland: How did that then go, as you then started marketing yourself clearly you're great at marketing other people. How did it go marketing yourself?
Jenni Brown: Well, I think because from that first company there just was a lot of balance that we could give to the other person's work. You know, a lot of times what I was doing was the beginning of the equation, and what she was doing was the end of the equation. Which is kind of how it naturally became like a dual freelance show for us, so in terms of marketing me specifically versus her specifically we just figured out like what is the thing that the end client needs, and can we present them one package that has all the things? Then we figured out a split on the backend that works for us. We happen to be 50/50 just because of the way the work kind of came together, but I think had it been maybe a different blend we might have split it a little bit differently.
Steve Folland: Phew, so it's not like one of you has to spend much longer working on something than the other person?
Jenni Brown: No. We're pretty in it together, which makes it really convenient when it comes down to having like hard conversations. You know?
Steve Folland: Is one of you more sort of business development like finding the work, or is that kind of split as well?
Jenni Brown: Yeah, and you know the interesting thing is, like I said, in the beginning we both were just two freelancers who were both running as hard as we can to get ... You know, this is how it works in the beginning with a freelancer, right? You're just running as fast as you can to keep the work consistent, and not have these big peaks and valleys. It really wasn't until a couple years in that we started to feel like we had ways to divide. For example, with business development a lot of that falls on Sophie's shoulders. I do some of it, and I've been doing some of it maybe in the last six months, but like there were years where she was the person bringing in the business.
Jenni Brown: Then I really have a strength in organization, and systems, and figuring out like, okay, how do we actually make this an official process? I end up just doing a lot of the business systems and building, but that took some time. Like I said, at first we weren't thinking we're going to be an official agency and let's build this sort of more of a business. We've always kind of operated out of a freelance place first.
Steve Folland: Yeah, that's nice. Did you start working together as in in a physical place as well?
Jenni Brown: Yeah, we did after the first ... oh God, when was that? Like maybe the first year, six months, eight months. We were each out of our respective home offices, and we were taking budget meetings in coffee shops, which can be really awkward when you're talking about money in a public place. We found a coworking space that's kind of halfway between our houses. We're here in San Francisco. I'm in the city. I'm in The Haight, and she's kind of up in Marin County, which is super beautiful.
Jenni Brown: There's like a halfway point just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, and that became a really great thing because we're now in the coworking space two days a week where we can collaborate, we can take client meetings, and we have a conference room, and all those things that you need as a forward facing freelancer, but then we get to come back to our home offices and we get to do that deep work writing strategy stuff in our home offices.
Steve Folland: Yeah. That's so cool. What would you say have been the biggest challenges of working this way? This collaborative sort of freelance work.
Jenni Brown: One of the biggest things that I personally struggle with, actually it doesn't have anything to do with the collaboration. I'm sure like a lot of your listeners might experience this, but I miss having friends in the same way. Two days a week we're in the coworking space, which is great because we've met a lot of fabulous other freelancers and what we call brand-friends. Our businesses are friends, but when you work for a company there's just sort of this natural orbit that you share with people. It forces you to have these really interesting connections with people that you might not otherwise either spend time with, or become friends with.
Jenni Brown: In fact, when I first moved to San Francisco from Los Angeles in 2011 that first job was basically what gave me some soil and seeds in which to grow the relationships that became my friends here in the city. Since leaving a traditional job, it's been four years. Yeah, it's been about four years since I've been in the traditional job space, or maybe a little longer. I can see that my rate of meeting new people has dramatically fallen behind some of my friends that have stayed in jobs, and changed companies, and they're constantly being exposed to new people. I think as an extrovert I love my office, which I call the design cave, but that can also be a little tough. Just not having that same flow of interesting new people kind of coming through your life.
Steve Folland: Yeah. Do you have hobbies outside of work?
Jenni Brown: Yeah. I do, and I'm sure you can attest to this. As a freelancer it can be hard because if you're working in the home it can all bleed together, and it can be hard to have boundaries. I think I've gotten better about having hobbies, and side projects, and things like that. That does help, right?
Steve Folland: Yeah. What are your side projects?
Jenni Brown: One of my big side projects that I really like ... you know what I think is fun? I think it can be hard for ambitious people to stay focused on just one thing, so I find that a lot of us freelancers do have many things that we have our fingers in. Right now one of my side projects is a podcast that I create called The Type-A Creative, and over there I'm having conversations with driven artists and creatives about what it's like to have a full-time gig, and then practice their art on the side, or even maybe just have an ambitious goal for their art, or writing, or painting, or whatever that might be. I mean, listen, creating art is really literally one of the most important things that we can do in the world.
Jenni Brown: I think what's hard about the freelance stuff is that a lot of times we can turn around and sell that creativity to a client or to a company, and I think it's really important for us to have spaces where we're just creating things to make it. To be exploratory and to play, or to put our art in the world, and I think especially when you're kind of in the freelance life that can be really hard to make space for. It can kind of feel like your client work gobbles up all of your space and time. The Type-A Creative is a place where we have conversations around that, and we kind of talk about how to fight for that, creativity for keeps, as I like to call it.
Steve Folland: Yeah. That's so cool, and how do you fight for it? How do you fight for your own?
Jenni Brown: Yeah. I was just going to say like other than the show, I really try to carve out space to draw, write poems, write essays, or just kind of be creative just for myself as much as possible. I recently got an iPad Pro, and I'm kind of learning how to draw digitally, which is a challenge that I'm liking. I think, you know, it's finding little pockets of time, right? I think it can be really tempting to book either your creative schedule or your work schedule. You kind of get to control your own speed of work, and I think especially because the feast or famine that comes with running your own gig, it can be tempting to just kind of contract and want to book as much work as possible because you don't know when that client's going to pull out.
Jenni Brown: You may, you know, not have the stability that you used to have, but I think the trick for really making sure that you have space for that art that you don't sell to a client is just giving yourself these little pockets of white space where you're not expected to produce. You know, you have some space to play, to try something new, and I think a lot of times we think that that creative time has to come in these big, beautiful, elaborate chunks. Like, I need to find a cabin in the woods where I can write my book, and I'll spend all weekend. I'll do a getaway, but I find that most creative projects, they're done in these little tiny stolen moments. It's like 15 minutes before you turn on email. For me that's kind of become the fighting place. The battleground, I suppose, is to make sure that at least once, or twice, or three times a week is great to pull out the iPad Pro and just sketch a little bit.
Steve Folland: Yeah, cool. How's it going with the podcast as well? How have you managed keeping that up because you've been doing it, what, a year or so now?
Jenni Brown: Just under a year, yeah. With that, that's sort of like my system side of my brain. The less creative part, the more type-A part. I have some support over at Prim'd that I ended up just pulling into the Type A Creative. I have an editor that I work with there, and I have a project manager that I work with there. I've just learned that I need accountability. I need other people waiting on me for deadlines, and they are great at that. Even this morning my editor was like, "Hey, by the way are you recording an intro for this episode that's dropping this week?"
Jenni Brown: Before I had a meeting I had to just hop on and record my little intro, but I find that finding ways to set up structure for yourself. Whether that's like people meeting you at the table, or people expecting your work, or creating deadlines can just really help things move forward. You know, when you're the one responsible for keeping the momentum up.
Steve Folland: Yeah. Yeah. When you started the podcast did you edit it yourself, or have you always had an editor?
Jenni Brown: I've always had an editor, and I think that just came out of the first couple years of Prim'd. The freelance mindset, for me, was I have to do all this myself. You know, like I have to edit myself. I have to design it myself. I have to ... Maybe that's just a very kind of controlling mindset that I have, but I learned over the years that there are pieces. Even though I was kind of making my own way in the world, I could break off pieces and draw in other freelancers or other contractors to help support the bigger vision, and so I started the podcast in June of last year.
Jenni Brown: I want to say that Prim'd was maybe three years old at that point. I just felt like I had already learned the lessons of not being the only one holding the vision because otherwise it just gets too heavy. When I sat down to launch the show I was like the only way I'm really going to do this is if I can have some support where I get to focus on the fun conversations, and finding great people, and coming up with new fresh ideas, and that I have that structure behind me to make sure that I'm not up at like two o'clock in the morning editing audio.
Steve Folland: Yes, he says, after three years of editing it himself. No, that's really cool. Have you ... You've been working on the work life balance, in quotation marks, over the years.
Jenni Brown: Yeah. That's so real. Like I said, it took me a few years to get it sorted. I think part of it is just the nature of the type of personality perhaps that's drawn to the freelance lifestyle. Look, I mean, we're workhorses, right? We like to do our work on our own time, and we're kind of motivated by our own accomplishments. That often means that the thing that gets us really far in the freelance career is this muscle of like just showing up and working, and editing at two a.m., or at three a.m., or doing whatever it is you have to do to keep your career alive. For me that switch, like I said, was kind of some time around the two or three year mark where I started to realize that the strength or the muscle that had got me to where I was, was not going to be the same thing that get me to where I wanted to go.
Jenni Brown: Working harder really wasn't going to continue to move the needle. It was kind of painful. I felt like I had to learn new skills. I had to learn how to trust the people around me. The other contractors I had pulled in for support. I had to learn how to like step back, which I think for, especially like I said, the freelance where in that model the money you bring in is the result of the work you do. It felt really counterintuitive maybe to like go on vacation. For example, last year I spent three weeks in Africa where they didn't even have wifi, and so it just took me a while to be able to flex those muscles to feel like I could do those things.
Steve Folland: How did you do that thing? How did you like manage to basically shut up shop for three weeks and disappear?
Jenni Brown: Yeah, you know, I think sometimes we forget. I have to remind myself of this all the time, that we are the bosses of our own either companies, if you think of yourself that way, or skillsets, or ... Yeah, I think we have this idea that if we shut up shop and we aren't available that the clients are going to throw up their hands and disappear. Like, "Uh, Steve's never around. Well, let's move on. Let's move our business elsewhere." The funny thing is, it's really not that big of a deal. I mean, really it's not a sexy answer, but planning. I put it on the calendar early. I let my clients know. We sort of batched some work in advance.
Jenni Brown: Like I said, now I have contractors that also handle parts of the work. I'm the prime and they're the sub, and I'm kind of contracting work to them. That helped because it means that they are doing a lot of the things that used to keep me awake in the middle of the night. It's kind of been one of the greatest things that I've ever done with my career and with the business because it means that if I'm in Africa and something blows up, there is somebody to kind of respond to that. You know, but even before we did that I also just don't think there's anything wrong with letting an email sit in your inbox for a couple weeks. I mean, I don't. I think the clients at first they're like, "Oh, we need this immediately." Then they go, "Oh, she's on vacation. Okay, we'll just wait til you get back."
Steve Folland: Yes. Oh God, yeah. That is just something which only hit me towards the end of last year was that whole thing of actually all the people we work with, they take time off, and all the people they work with in the offices. They go on holiday all the time. It's just taken that they're not there, and you just have to wait a week.
Jenni Brown: Right. Right, and isn't it so funny that like ... and I don't mean to think that we think that we are self important because I think a lot of us, we get to this place through a heart of service, right? Wanting to be great at our jobs. Wanting to really serve the people well that are paying us to do work that we love, but it's funny to remember we're not the center of their universe. If we're gone, their world isn't going to fall apart. I don't know. I think sometimes we put undue responsibility on ourselves, and I think that's kind of what keeps people from either having a good work-life balance, creating the kind of art they want to make, or going on vacation.
Steve Folland: Yeah. No, I love that. How have you coped with the business side of it? There's the two of you. Have you come up against any difficulties? I mean, you sorted out the split of the company and stuff like that, but be it being paid, a deposit, or struggling with those kind of things?
Jenni Brown: Well, two things. Number one, system, system, systems are your friend. I think this is where I got to show up and shine a little bit in kind of the world we were building for ourselves. Number two, I got really good at money. You know, it's so funny. I didn't really used to be that great at money, and in fact, I had some shame around it. Even when I was working for those tech companies and maybe I was making six figures with a five figure bonus, I really just didn't manage it all that well. Now, a lot of it was putting in, like I've said, structure or process to control every part of my pipeline. I just don't think that when you're in the freelance gig that you have the space for that kind of aloofness either with your processes or your money.
Jenni Brown: I mean, look, we work really hard, and like I said, our clients, we really want to serve them out of a place of wanting to do a good job. Part of the way that you do that is by rolling up your sleeves and getting a system that makes sure that not everything that happens is your responsibility to remember, right? I always say that the brain of an entrepreneur is not always a safe space, so getting things out of your brain and into either a checklist, or some sort of email that gets sent off automatically at a certain time so that you're reminding clients of their deadlines to get back to you on something without you physically having to remember it in the moment.
Jenni Brown: A couple of systems I really like is I use YNAB for cashflow planning, which is You Need a Budget, YNAB. They're actually just like a budgeting system that's available for like normal household budgets. I started using it in my personal life, and I liked it so much I started using it as a way to forecast how much is in my bank account, and how far can that get me when I need to pay myself, and if I'm subbing out to any other freelancers. You know, any of the other expenses that kind of just come with the gig. How far will that money get me, so I know what my pipeline looks like.
Jenni Brown: Then I use a system called Contactually for lead nurturing, so that's like a great way of seeing, who are the clients that we've talked to? Who is somebody that maybe just needs a little more time, and can I send them an email that has some value, or like, "Hey, I listened to this great podcast and this episode reminded me of you." Just as a way of kind of staying top-of-mind so that it's not so feast or famine.
Jenni Brown: We also have this enormous spreadsheet in Google Sheets where we kind of like actually document what money we have for every quarter. That kind of just helps us see like, "Oh, okay. Come June we're going to feel skinny." We can start doing something about it in March, so those things help. I think with any freelancers we still have months, for example for us it's in the summer, where things get really scary. Now we just plan for them, and we don't have the perfect solution, but the systems kind of help you be a lot less anxious around it than I used to be.
Steve Folland: That's so cool. Man, those are ... For somebody who didn't like rules, as you said at the beginning, you like creating your own. I like it.
Jenni Brown: Yeah, and I think that's actually a big challenge for us freelancers is to like find a set of rules or structure that allows us to thrive. You know? I think a lot of us want to be like, "Oh, the reason I'm in this is so I can own my time." I think if you take that to its extreme it can kind of be hard to be productive.
Steve Folland: Yeah, and as a sort of duo company, although obviously it sounds like you have many other people who you have helping you out as well because everything seems to have happened fairly organically along the way. Do you sit back and think of greater plans or goal making? Is that something you two do?
Jenni Brown: Totally. Constantly. All the time, but I think some of it is the whole reason that we do the "I'm not working for someone else" is because I think we want to enjoy how it feels along the way. We're setting goals, but then constantly checking in with ourselves and with each other, and just kind of saying like, "Okay, how does this feel?" I'll give you a real-life example that we're kind of going through right now. The Brand Plan is the name of a strategy that we offer to businesses to help them understand their position in a market, so it kind of goes through core-messaging, and who they're for, and how they're different, and all these really interesting things that can help lay a really good foundation for a company.
Jenni Brown: That's the one thing that we love to do. We love selling it. We love making it. We love presenting it. There's just joy all around, right? Last year we said, "What if we kind of change the way that we're promoting and selling things? What if we try to focus on doing the most of that because that's what we love. It brings us the most energy. They're easy to sell. We make a decent profit. Okay." That was the goal. We said, "Okay, quarter one of 2018 we're gonna really try to focus on that." We gave ourselves a goal of doing, I think it's like ten strategies in three months. Which, we're like, "Okay, that's doable." We're launching three a month. We know we take about three weeks on each, and we can kind of just stagger them. Then around March or the end of February we were like, "Oh my God. This is so much work." Part of it is that we go really deeply in the process, and so I don't know if any of your listeners have really creative work.
Jenni Brown: Sometimes with creative work it just can't be rushed, right? You have to gestate it. You have to think about it. You have to come back to it, and so just a couple weeks ago we were kind of waving the white flag and saying like, "This doesn't feel the way I thought it would feel." Now we're having some interesting conversations around, what can we shift? How do I still make the amount of money I need to make each month, but like shift it so that we don't feel like we're on a treadmill. I think we haven't hit the point where we're feeling like the work is compromised, but we're really defensive about that. How do I make sure that what I'm delivering to my clients is great, and I have enough time to get all the work done, and I'm making the amount of money I want? We're constantly toggling those dials back and forth.
Steve Folland: Cool. As Prim'd Marketing, is there anything that's grown as you've developed your website and everything that has particularly worked for you, or maybe something that hasn't that you've got rid of?
Jenni Brown: Like as a product, or as a-
Steve Folland: Well, what actually I meant as the website, but I'd be interested to hear about even the point where you started offering products, for example, because maybe at one point it may have just been services.
Jenni Brown: Yeah, you know, it's funny. I can tell you about the evolution from service to product, so our products are still services. They just have product names. For example, with the Brand Plan, and this actually helped a lot with our sales, and conversion rate, and just getting more businesses to understand what we were offering. We were doing the Brand Plan kind of like, again, organically. We found that clients are squirrelly. They change their mind a lot. They ask for different things all the time.
Jenni Brown: They meet with someone in a bar who says, "You know what you should do?" Then they change their whole business model, and so we started offering this strategy as kind of a way to nail their hands to the table. To be like, "Guess what, when you meet with that guy in the bar, and he says you should be doing this. If that's not in line with what's in this book, you don't have to do it." For like the first three years of our business were kind of just doing this deep foundational work, and not charging for it.
Jenni Brown: We had a mentor that we were working with that we were kind of saying, "You know, we're really having a hard time making sure we're paying ourselves enough, and client work." All the things that can come up, and he pulls out the Brand Plan and he goes, "This is the most interesting thing that you do. What would happen if you sold this? Give it a flat rate, and in your statement of work it's a flat set of deliverables. You kind of guide people through a process." Its still a service. It's essentially copywriting and strategies, and we were like, "Oh, can we do that? Can we charge for that?" That's an example of just kind of trying something on, and we said, "Okay, what if we charge for the Brand Plan?"
Jenni Brown: Then it was like, what if we charge more for the Brand Plan? What if we cut the Brand Plan in half and then doubled the price? Those are things that we've done over the years just to kind of really step deeper into, what's the best part? How do we focus on the best work, and really, again coming back to serving your clients, give them really high value. Give them exactly what they need, and less of the stuff that they don't need. That's kind of how the Brand Plan evolved. We've had a lot of other things that we've kind of like tried on, and been like, "Well, that didn't work."
Steve Folland: I love that, so it's like seeing what really ... I guess that makes you stand out against one of your competitors, be it an agency or freelancers for that matter. This particular name that people can attach a meaning to.
Jenni Brown: I think what we're doing is similar to any freelancer, like any copywriter out there who is like, "I'm a freelance copywriter." A lot of what we're offering is probably not that different, but I think what it does for that copywriter is it puts them in the driver's seat. I'm an expert. I know what you need. I want to sell you the things that you need, and I want to get you to where you're going. I don't necessarily want you to come to me with ten ideas that like maybe three of them are good, but we're going to end up spending a lot of money and a lot of time. Not to say that the client is always wrong, but I think sometimes that's the risk you can run if you're kind of just selling your hours for dollars.
Steve Folland: We'll put a link of course at BeingFreelance.com. You can go and check out what we're talking about, and the website as ever for all of our guests' linked through. It's really interesting. I mean, you can kind of see your systems and processes, what you've talked about, come through. You know, if I was imagining myself as a client without even talking to you, I get a sense of what would be involved in the Brand Plan, for example. I notice you have video on there as well.
Jenni Brown: Yeah, that was something we did maybe like 18 months ago. That was so fun. I'm a huge fan of video. I guess to back up to what is the point of all this? I think I wouldn't advise for anybody to kind of go out and get a bunch of marketing stuff on their site because somebody on the internet told them to, but I think when it comes to really connecting with those clients who are going to work with you helping them understand what it feels like to work with you is literally the name of the game.
Jenni Brown: Again, I'm going to go back to copywriting because that's what I've done kind of in my past. If you're a copywriter, your client doesn't understand how you as a freelance copywriter is different from any other copywriter on the internet or a recommendation. You're kind of fighting an uphill battle there in trying to be the one that says like, "I'm the copywriter for you, XYZ Brand." Part of what we've really gotten serious about is trying to think about how do we demonstrate what it feels like to work with us? That way clients can begin imagining what it might feel like to hire us, and that just really helps. You just do a lot less in the business development side. Yeah, I would invite people to come to the site. Just even look at the way we've set up like, download an info pack, or a video.
Jenni Brown: All that was just really in the name of trying to really be transparent about, this is what our energy is like. This is the steps and the process. This is exactly what's included. Here's a little bit of our aesthetic so you can get a feel for what it's going to look like. I think anytime, as a freelancer, you can start illuminating those pieces it helps draw in the clients that are going to be the greatest fit for you. And, you know, there's clients out there that aren't a great fit, so they can look at that and go, "Mm, no thanks." Then you don't have to get on the phone and try to use your time to sell that person because they've already self eliminated, which is kind of what you want.
Steve Folland: Man, I love that. Seriously, go follow the link. Take a look. Take all of that in because it was great. If you could tell your younger self one thing about being freelance, what would that be?
Jenni Brown: You know, it's interesting, I think because freelancers tend to be such ambitious people. I don't know about you, but for me I'm like I want to be there yesterday, and I have 10,000 goals. A lot of times when I think about advice to my younger self it's like you're doing a great job, slow down. Maybe not even slow down, but just maybe lessen the grip because you're going to be fine. I think I know that that may sound like cop-out advice, but I think we really do the best job we know how given the tools we have.
Jenni Brown: I think sometimes there's some insight into just trusting yourself, and knowing that this is going to be great. It's going to be fun, and you're allowed to enjoy it along the way. It doesn't have to be so like, what's next? How am I growing my pipeline, or who's the next client? Which I think for freelancers, because we do control so much of our own destiny and outcome, sometimes the downside of that is we're responsible for so many things. I think it would just be relaxing and enjoying it, and just really being confident that I was doing a great job.
Steve Folland: Nice. Jenni, thank you so much. All the best, Being Freelance.
Jenni Brown: Yeah. Thank you so much.