Jade Gillham’s freelancer story

As part of our freelance celebration we’re sharing the experiences of female freelancers. Here’s Jade Gillham’s story. 

What do you do?

I’m a digital marketing freelancer with a focus on search engine optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), and copywriting. I’m based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and work on digital marketing projects with local businesses and marketing agencies.

How long have you been a freelancer?

After juggling freelance projects on the side alongside my in-house role for around 6 months, I decided to quit my job in the marketing department of a recruitment company and become a full-time freelancer a year ago in August 2018.

Why did you go freelance?

To be honest, reading blog posts like this really got me thinking about a different way of living and working. I read a lot of stories from other freelancers, some of them worked in digital marketing but most were from a range of industries.

A lot of people I was reading about were working from a beach in Bali but when I took the plunge, I just made the move across the water from Sunderland to Newcastle. Not quite as bold, but a change nonetheless.

Of course, this wasn’t the only or even the main reason. I was feeling really unfulfilled in my job. I had worked in a marketing role in-house at a few different organisations and after a while, I always felt the same way. So rather than find another similar 9-5 role in a different company with the same outcome, I decided to make a bigger change and freelance.

What do you love about being a freelancer?

I worked client-side for years so I was used to working on just one brand so now I really appreciate the chance to work with a variety of people on different projects. It really keeps things interesting and I think I’ve learned more in this year of freelancing than I ever would have in another year in-house.

Also, I love being in charge of my own time. Yes, I’m tied to client deadlines to some extent but for the most part, I can choose when to work and how I work.

And what do you hate about being a freelancer?

A lot of people talk about the feast and famine side of freelancing as being the worst part, but for me, I think I struggle most with switching off.

How long did it take you to earn an income you were happy with?

I think I was quite lucky as I’ve been pretty busy from the start. For 3 out of the first 6 months that I started freelancing full-time, I took home more money than I did in my in-house role.  

Although, I would say that a few years ago I was much more money orientated whereas now I’ve realised that money isn’t everything. I’m happier working fewer hours as long as I have enough money to pay my bills and fund my chocolate habit! 

And how long to get a good client rota?

Again, I think I was pretty lucky here too. Two clients that I was working with on the side while still at my last role have stayed with me. I got a few juicy temporary contracts at the beginning and have since had some lovely new clients. Most of those have found me through referrals and recommendations which is nice.

Have you ever turned a client down? And if so, why?

I literally just turned down a client for the first time on the same day as I’m answering these questions.

I’ve been working with this particular client for about 4 months now, even though it should’ve been a very short-term project. This project has caused me the most stress while simultaneously being one of the smallest (read: least profitable) projects I’ve worked on. 

After finally finishing the initial project scope, they asked me to stay on for at least another six months at which time I said I would find them a lovely replacement. 

If you could offer any advice to yourself starting out as a freelancer, what would it be?

I would tell myself to stop worrying about it so much and just do it.

Worry about getting enough clients and earning enough money kept me chained to my 9-5 for longer than it should have. I honestly wish I’d done it sooner.

Find out more about Jade