Interview | 22 Jul 2021

Freelance Spotlight: Interview with Sabina Ellahi, Communications Consultant

Posted in PR and Communications, Freelancer, Freelancer's stories, Interview,

This month we interviewed Sabina Ellahi. Originally from the US, Sabina has been working in PR & Communications for a over a decade, specialising in lifestyle and beauty. Read on to hear about her journey into the world of freelancing, the interesting projects she has been involved in and her advice for aspiring communications freelancers. 

Tell us a bit about what you do?

I’m a communications consultant that specialises in earned media strategies and overall brand strategy for lifestyle & beauty brands. I’m passionate about brand building through compelling storytelling, cultural understanding across markets, and crafting integrated communications strategies to ensure that anything that is external facing for a brand is always approached through a 360 marketing and communications lens.

Originally from the US, I’ve been working in the PR & communications realm for over a decade in both New York and London. I’ve worked on the agency side and in-house with beauty and lifestyle brands of all genres, from global brands like L'Oreal and LVMH, to emerging start-ups and scale-ups. Currently, I’m consulting with brands such as Shiseido Fragrances, Function of Beauty, Heist of London, dome BEAUTY and more. I also work with agency partners from time to time to provide strategic guidance.

I’ve been fortunate to build and sustain relationships with media stakeholders and digital influencers in key markets across the globe, which has become a key offering for my services for brands who are looking to expand internationally. One of my main services is working with brands in helping them craft integrated communications strategies to help them grow at home and abroad.

How long have you been a freelancer?

I’ve been freelancing on the side since 2016 but went full-time in the summer of 2019.

Why did you decide to go self-employed?

I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit in me, and I give kudos to my father for that, who is also self-employed. He said to me “it’s hard work, but nothing is more rewarding than being your own boss.” He is absolutely right.

The beauty and wellness industry has exploded with the rise of DTC businesses – there are so many interesting brands out on the market who are growing exponentially but remain nimble with their teams. Contacts in the industry started reaching out to me asking if I would be interested in consulting on brands who were looking for a PR/communications specialist. The more leads I got, the more I realised that there was an opportunity to tap into this full-time.

The best part about being self-employed is being in control of the clients you bring on. When I decided to pursue this full-time, I made it my mantra that I would only work with brands that align with my own personal philosophy and that I would personally consider buying from as a consumer. This approach has helped me land some really fantastic brands!

How has The Work Crowd helped you as a freelancer?

The Work Crowd has been a great resource for both networking and leads. The best part about TWC is how closely their team works in vetting the talent they have before putting them forth with a potential client to ensure success between both parties.

The other part that is really useful is how TWC has integrated invoicing into their platform for any contracts secured through them, which eliminates the admin work of invoicing manually and chasing accounts for payments. This method allows for the freelancer to worry about one less thing and to really focus on developing a solid relationship with the client and to ultimately deliver great results.

Do you think the pandemic has had an affect on freelancing?

It did, but in a positive way. As many companies furloughed staff at the beginning of the pandemic, they realised that there was still a great need for marketers and external communication specialists to help their brands navigate a world that was changing daily from the pandemic. Freelancers were a great asset to still generate results but without the financial and logistics commitment of a headcount. 

Additionally, now that working remotely is much more widely embraced, many companies have realised the power of being able to bring on extra support and great talent quickly and without the red tape.  I can tell freelancing opportunities are in an abundance at the moment and I think that trend will continue for quite some time.

What kind of clients/projects have you worked on through The Work Crowd?

I’ve worked with a CBD brand that promotes stress management to Type A personalities and providing strategic earned media counsel for a sustainable fashion marketplace (while simultaneously planning a photoshoot for that brand). TWC has connected me to so many creative and inspiring minds and I’m so grateful for it.

What one piece of advice would you give to a new communications freelancer?

Oh boy, I have tons of advice, but the main advice I would give to a freelancer (and this was actually from a tarot card reader) is to think of yourself as a business owner. Yes, you are available for contracts and gigs, but if you want to grow and be financially successful, you have to approach freelancing with a business-oriented mindset. This mindset will reflect positively from every touchpoint of your work – from how you interact with clients and prospects to maintaining deadlines. And make sure you do the math and are not underselling yourself just for the sake of winning a contract. Your efforts should be compensated fairly because your skillset & expertise is the product you are selling, and it shouldn’t be undersold!


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