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For the first year and a half of my adventure into freelancing, I was primarily a web designer.
If someone needed a website, I would gladly design it for them. Sometimes I helped with some basic marketing work as well, but in general I positioned myself and was perceived as a web designer.
Eventually, this started wearing on me and I wanted something more.
I wanted to be strategic.
I wanted to make a bigger impact.
One day I decided that I was going to become a freelance marketing director, and the rest is history. Here’s how I did it:
Making the change
At first the idea of becoming a freelance marketing director seemed odd. I was afraid of wearing the hat because I had become so used to exchanging money for something tangible (a website).
The idea of charging for strategy and consulting seemed odd to me: I was afraid that people wouldn’t believe I was good enough to be a marketing director.
Doubt filled my mind, but eventually I made the jump.
In the course of one week, I went from positioning myself as a Squarespace Web Designer to a Freelance Marketing Director.
- I changed my website.
- I changed my LinkedIn.
- I changed my email signature.
And just like that, I was calling myself a marketing director.
Talking the talk
Changing online profiles was easy, but the next challenge was actually explaining to people what I was doing.
I didn’t even have a single marketing client yet, so everything I was saying I could do was basically theory.
Here’s the polished version of what came out after quite a few pitches that totally flopped:
“I work with companies as their freelance marketing director. Basically when you can’t afford to hire someone full time, you can put me on retainer and I will help with strategy and execution of your marketing efforts. By having multiple clients it allows me to take things I learn elsewhere and apply it to helping market and grow your business.”
Each time I pitched my new position to someone, I began to believe it more. I began to believe that I could rise to the role and the occasion.
Walking the walk
The amazing thing is that it started to actually work.
Within the first month I had closed two marketing clients on freelance retainer.
The first client was a developer recruitment company called Gun.io. I had known these guys for a long time, but positioning myself as a marketing director turned them into clients from acquaintances.
The second client was a Squarespace web design business called Digify. This also was someone I had known for years. The CEO, David, constantly came to me for advice on building up a web design business, but I had never given him a framework to really hire me. This marketing director role was the tipping point for that relationship.
Then, within the next month I had closed two more.
As a project based web designer, I averaged between $8k–11k per month in project-based sales. While I was making good income, I was spending countless hours each month writing proposals and taking sales calls.
In two months as a freelance marketing director, I had secured $8,500 in recurring revenue.
- I didn’t have to take any more sales calls.
- I didn’t have to write any more proposals.
All of that clutter of jumping from project to project dropped from my life.
I was now able to focus on helping a few select clients grow their business. The work was more fulfilling and the stability of recurring revenue helped bring peace to my previously chaotic life.
Evolving your business
It’s not an easy thing to evolve your business. When you have identified yourself one way for a long time, it’s easy to get trapped in that mindset and believe you can’t do anything else.
The truth is that you can.
If you want to evolve your career or transition to something new, you can.
Reposition yourself in all of your marketing materials, and over time people will begin to catch on.
The act of transitioning isn’t hard, it just takes the guts to do it.
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