Posted in PR and Communications, Motivation & inspiration, Freelancer's stories, Interview,
This month we interviewed freelance content and communications consultant Lala Cooper. Lala specialises in strategic development and tailored messaging and shares how brands can benefit from insight-led content strategies. She discusses her journey into freelancing, interesting clients she worked with in the Fintech space in the past year and gives great advice in valuing your work.
Tell us a bit about what you do?
In a nutshell: words.
I specialise in brand narrative, communications and content, working closely with clients to make their words work better – whatever that looks like for them.
It might be in creating brand positioning and messaging for a start-up, helping businesses strengthen their relationship with their workforce, or producing content driven towards lead generation.
What I do could be defined as a multi-hyphenate career, but all of these disciplines are closely interlinked. Understanding that broadens what you can do for your client – and your career.
My work isn’t limited to businesses either. I also work with people on an individual level towards their career goals. It’s rarer but very rewarding.
How long have you been a freelancer?
Freelancing was something I’d done sporadically throughout my early and mid-twenties, and it instantly gave me that spark. No matter what happened during my 9-5, I could rely on the evening and weekend work to bring me back to that mindset of: “oh yes, I remember why I love this so much now!” It was a very different creative process owning that.
In early 2021, I realised that freelancing was where I found my most rewarding work. I’d long wanted more ownership than a traditional 9-5 could reasonably offer, and going solo would enable that.
I did a private launch of my freelance business, Goldline Content in May, and a formal launch in September after I had transitioned out of my permanent role.
Why did you decide to go self-employed?
I doubt I’m alone in saying the early 2020s have shifted my priorities. As someone who was a seasoned 60-hour-weeker, the pandemic made me step back and assess my life – including my career. Could I sustain that level of commitment for the next 40-something years for someone else’s business? And more importantly, would I want to?
There’s no one single reason why I took the step. Diversity was a significant contributing factor. I’d been in roles that were purely centred around communications, and roles that were purely content strategy – I would find myself missing one when I was in another. Through Goldline, I could find a healthy variety and continue to hone each discipline.
Ultimately, it wasn’t as simple as working less hours or being paid more – I wanted to be considered in how I approach my work. Allocate time for strategic and creative thinking, keep ethics at the core of Goldline, and create a structure that would enable true flexibility, not only in the where and when, but in the how.
How has The Work Crowd helped you as a freelancer?
Everything about The Work Crowd is different to other freelancer platforms – or job seeker sites, for that matter.
The opportunities on TWC are legitimate, well-rounded roles and unlike other platforms, it’s simple enough to get a good flavour of clients’ needs and expectations. It doesn’t feel sporadic and the UX makes it really easy to narrow down what you’re looking for – which is pretty key for busy freelancers.
I think it’s really the conscientiousness that separates TWC from the crowd of other platforms. I definitely appreciate the calibre of opportunities on there, and can see how that translates to the real life “doing”.
You specialise in insight-led content strategy, can you explain what this is and how brands can benefit from this approach?
Content can feel like a bit of a tick-box exercise for a lot of brands, and I’ve seen how watered down it can quickly become. And how ineffective that is.
Putting out content simply to have something to post about on social, or to boost SEO is a no-go for me. Don’t get me wrong, they’re viable objectives within themselves, but it’s not enough to create meaningful content. If there’s no depth, your audience will see right through it, it won’t speak to who you are or what you do in the same way, and it’ll be a slog to produce.
Insight-led content strategy keeps the focus on the “why” and the “who” in every single piece of collateral. Typically, I’ll run a workshop at the start of my clients’ content strategy and it’ll cover a wide spectrum of their work. Their ideal outreach, keywords, competitors, current content process, why it isn’t working – even their tone of voice and narrative style.
All of these factor into creating a holistic picture of your content and will ultimately ensure it’s aligned to every single aspect of your brand. It also importantly makes the gaps much more evident – meaning it’s easier to fill them.
It’s a good deal of work on my end, but 100% worth it.
What kind of clients/projects have you worked on through The Work Crowd?
A range! Last year, I worked with StormPay, a payment service provider, on their website content and UX/UI copy for their app. They have a pretty easily identifiable brand which is something I really appreciate, and a strong understanding of who their target audience is. It isn’t a pre-requisite for me, but it’s very encouraging to support a startup with such a defined awareness of their own proposition. And because they’re coming up in the fintech sector, it was exciting to be a part of that.
It's something I appreciate most about The Work Crowd. Clients looking for work are often ambitious, established and growing – meaning the work is exciting, you have the opportunity to create real impact, and support their development.
What one piece of advice would you give to a new Content and Communications Consultant freelancer?
I’m definitely open to receiving advice myself as someone who’s relatively new to the freelance game! There are a few good nuggets that regularly circulate out there but here’s my big one:
Don’t undervalue your work at the get-go. When you’re starting out, it’s easy to think that undercutting your own prices will equate to more work. Not necessarily. But it will set a precedent not only for yourself but for your current and prospective clients. The chances are just because you’re new to being a freelancer, doesn’t mean you’re new to your field – I came along with 8+ years in the books! Why would I underprice myself when I could provide greater commitment and interpersonal service than many agencies juggling 80+ clients?
Being self-employed means that no one’s coming to pay your bills for you; no one’s paying for your holiday time or sick days; no one’s paying for your subscriptions to online tools; no one’s going to pay for your vendors or your pension, or your parental leave if you choose to grow your family. And your clients know this too.
Doing thorough pricing research is good, adding it on top is better, and knowing when to raise your prices – and when to walk away – is best.
And if you really really want to work with someone, there are ways of deducting from your fee, but I would make sure that’s clear to your client. They’ll see your heart’s in it, and they’ll get an understanding of the value you add – and what they can expect to pay in the future.
That’s my two cents.
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