Interview | 04 Jul 2019

From Medicine to Digital Marketing? James's story

Posted in Marketing, Digital, Freelancer, Learning, Interview,

Here at The Work Crowd, every freelancer has their own unique story to tell. In this month’s issue, we’re putting James Treacher, a Digital Marketing Consultant, in the limelight.

Before his career switch to marketing, James received a BSc. in Traditional Chinese Medicine and practiced acupuncture for over four years within the NHS. Now, he has successfully made the switch to a freelancing Digital Marketing Consultant for a number of tech-based companies and has established himself as one of the best in his field.

You went from studying traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture to a thriving career in marketing. Describe to us what influenced this massive decision, as well as the challenges associated with it.

For over four years I worked in a busy NHS pain clinic providing acupuncture for people with a range of chronic pain conditions. Although I enjoyed my work greatly, I felt frustrated with the limits I faced as an acupuncturist within the health service. I felt that I had reached the peak of my career, before the age of 30.

During this time I was writing content for BuzzFeed around pop culture and LGBT stories. After a short time I began to see exciting traction with my articles receiving millions of views, hundreds of thousands of shares on social, and were translated into various languages. I saw the power of content as a marketing tool, and felt that I wanted to pursue this as a career.

I was soon approached by a traveltech company who wanted to work with me to build out their content on their website. I spent a year writing travel related content, and soon moved on to managing their social, email and contact database. I was lucky enough to have access to various marketing experts during this time, so I was able to draw on their knowledge and expertise in order to learn the technicalities of digital marketing. This experience with a thriving startup, set me up for my next roles within the tech scene in London, including contracts with TrendWatching, YunoJuno, and AxiCom, a WPP agency.

Having both agency and in-house experience, what were the main differences between the two environments and how did those experiences help you in your freelancing career?

They are both very different working environments, each with their unique challenges. Agency side can be very fast paced and demanding, as you are dealing with multiple clients and are expected to provide input on various projects. Being part of a digital team within an agency can often mean having to put your hand to a variety of tasks at very short notice. When I was freelancing as Digital Lead at AxiCom I worked on everything from paid media, event email marketing, and organic social strategy.

In-house can be slower paced, but what I do enjoy is the end-to-end ownership you get on a project.  It is easier to feel part of the team and closer to the product when you are working directly with a client.

Recently we noticed you worked CogX through The Work Crowd. Describe to us your successes from the festival, as well as upcoming companies to watch out for.

Where do I start. I was brought in for CogX, Europe’s biggest festival of AI and Emerging Tech, to drive sales. I managed email, CRM, and social and as such we smashed our targets bringing in over 20K tickets, and fully booked side events. This was a huge achievement, which took a lot of focus and determination, brought to fruition by the superb teamwork of the entire marketing team at CogX.

What have been your biggest career takeaways, since you have started your career as a freelancer?

My biggest takeaway by far has been being able to feel comfortable embracing change and to be flexible with new briefs. Coming from such a structured background within the NHS and then in-house, this has been quite a challenge, but essential in succeeding as a freelancer. Agility is the nature of startups and SMEs and you must be able to adapt to changes as and when they occur.

For people who are considering making a big career change as you did, what advice do you have for them?

Paid internships are a great start if you are looking for a career change. Interning is a fantastic way to work with game-changing startups and inspiring leaders in the UK, whilst being exposed to a thriving tech scene and drawing on the experience of others.

I would also invest in some professional development courses if you are looking for a career change. Look at General Assembly, Coursera, and EdX, all of which do open access introductions to digital marketing. 

 “The Work Crowd have been incredibly supportive in helping me to secure my latest contract with one of the hottest tech companies in London. I was assigned a consultant who guided me through the whole process, from negotiation to completing my profile and invoicing. I would thoroughly recommend the team at The Work Crowd. “  

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