Posted in Freelancer, Top tips, Tools & Advice, Motivation & inspiration, Freelancer's stories, Interview,
For our next freelance spotlight series, we're showcasing our award-winning freelancers to celebrate their achievements and the outstanding work they do in supporting businesses globally!
Lala Cooper is a Content & Communications Consultant and category winner of the TWC Freelancer of the Year Award in Content. Lala has been freelancing for more than 8 years and shares her secrets to success, and her top tips for winning new business and a successful freelancing career.
Can you provide us with a brief insight into what you do?
In short: I'm a Content and Communications Consultant, providing bespoke brand messaging, communications and content services to global (and local) brands.
Through strategic thinking and creative outputs, I bring full-service delivery across clients' networks, using traditional, owned and paid channels. In September 2021, I launched my freelance venture, Goldline Content - and it's been rapidly growing ever since!
What are your top tips for winning new business?
Genuine consultation. It's really the cornerstone of professionalism, but being an effective freelancer means offering true, meaningful and genuine consultation. There are plenty of nuances to this, but you must:
Importantly, it also means offering guidance, even if that means stepping out of the picture and recommending another freelancer. Professional integrity drives us to do what's best for our clients and the objective.
How do you effectively manage your client relationships?
Connecting with my clients is a big part of why I do what I do - and a huge motivator - so it comes comparatively easy to me. Balancing consistent communication with initiative is a good place to start. That looks very different for each of my clients, which is fun, and once you find the sweet spot the work and the relationships tend to keep a great rhythm.
It's a simple concept, but I always try for some F2F with my clients, both in-person and over video. I love it, it's easier to discuss or workshop certain projects, and it increases your chances of actually connecting with people in a very real way, rather than just niceties.
Flexibility is also a huge marker for success. I do believe in boundaries and avoiding the "yes trap", but I also believe firmly in going that extra mile. Sometimes, going out of your way to make a project or a deadline work for a client can be just as rewarding and really support a healthy working relationship.
Are there any tools you wouldn’t do without?
What are your top tips for success?
Most clients you work with have business objectives, and a personal driver behind that. Yes, they might want X pieces of coverage in mainstream publications, but it's likely the individual is also looking for that to reflect well on their personal career wants. In support of a promotion or pay rise, meet a KPI, connect with a specific customer type... they might not tell you outright, but if you can identify if there's a driver, and what it is, you'll deepen your understanding of the project, the relationship, and probably be more motivated to achieve great results yourself.
How do you manage your work-life balance as a freelancer?
I recently took my first 'proper' holiday as a freelancer which felt strange and difficult and alien, and wonderful. The world doesn't stop, and provided you've given your client fair warning, they'll fully support you taking breaks.
Practically speaking, when I'm not working, I try to do something more physical to give my mind a break. Gardening, cooking, working out... I also keep the same schedule as my fiance so that when he shuts his laptop, I shut mine. We have a good routine that 'mimics' a journey into the office, of sorts by walking the dog first thing in the morning, and straight after work. It allows us to prepare, connect, and reset, and gives us an immediate distance from screens.
I struggle far less with this as a freelancer than I ever did being a permanent employee, particularly coming from an agency background. There are days I work 6 hours and days I work 16 hours. My philosophy is that conscious decision-making enables me to balance this naturally, and those hectic weeks in September find equilibrium in the quieter summer months. It's a mindset rather than practicality, but it works for me.
What advice would you give your less knowledgeable self?
As my career progressed, assessing priorities became increasingly important - and valuable. Especially clients' priorities. And that's the case across the board.
Receiving multiple requests from a client and determining which task to complete first. Understanding why a client is telling you a non-urgent matter is urgent - and reminding them of their true priorities if need be. Knowing that your communications update might not be as important to the board of directors as it was to you (said after spending hours once creating a deck and visibly sweating for hours before the presentation...). I could go on.
Being a consultant and a freelancer means looking critically at your time, and understanding where there's sway and where there isn't. And a significant part of that is determining what actually is a priority, and what isn't for your clients, especially if they need some guidance or a reminder.
It's really tempting to go full throttle at every piece of work you come across but perfectionism is the enemy of productivity, and it can get you into some really difficult situations if you don't find ways around it.