For Claudia Pennington, marketing is a way of life. With more than 13 years of experience in the industry, she’s become an expert in developing measurable marketing strategies, SEO, and affiliate marketing. When Claudia’s not freelancing, she loves to hike and kayak.
Name: Claudia Pennington
Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
How long have you been doing freelance work?
More than 5 years
Tell us about your freelance business, in 100 words or less.
I consult with small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) on digital marketing strategies, especially when SEO and affiliate marketing are involved.
What do you consider to be your specialty. How does it help you in your business?
I’ve developed a lot of great relationships in the realm of personal finance, so I often consult with companies in that space.
What made you become a freelancer?
When I was an employee, I found that working with one “client,” i.e. my employer, wasn’t always challenging. I become a freelancer because of the opportunity to work with my clients at once.
What do you love most about freelance work, and why?
I love how each day represents a new challenge. Even though I have a plan for the day, there is inevitably something new that pops up and that’s exciting.
What do you hate about it?
In this industry, I could work 24/7/365 if I wanted, but that doesn’t lend itself to great work-life balance.
Tell us about your first paid job. How did you land your first client?
An employer had a friend in need of a new website, so he referred his friend. The rest is history!
Do you think aspiring freelancers should take unpaid work to gain experience? Why or why not?
I wouldn’t recommend taking unpaid work. Rather, I would consider discounting services for a client or two and ask for testimonials in exchange (assuming the work meets their expectations).
Do you feel you’re charging what you’re worth?
Yes, I think the value I provide is worth its rate. Getting to this place happened slowly over several years, so it likely could have happened faster.
Describe your process for finding new clients? Where do you look?
First, I start by asking current and past clients about the potential of taking on more work. Then, I’ll ask those same clients for referrals. Next, I’ll look for opportunities to do some content marketing, either written or in the form of a podcast.
Name 3 tools (apps, equipment) that you can’t live without. What makes them so great?
Insightly, Gmail, and Slack.
What is your #1 productivity hack?
Set a big goal and then do the biggest, most important task at the beginning of the day that’s going to push that goal forward.
Do you outsource tasks? Why or why not? If so, which ones?
Outsourcing depends on what I’m working on at the time and whether or not it’s in my wheelhouse. I outsource graphic design because it isn’t my strength.
In your opinion, what is the most important skill required for freelance work, and why?
You have to be organized to keep track of all the work you’re doing to ensure you’re meeting deadlines.
Do you consider yourself a strong time manager? How do you stay organized?
I rely on Insightly to manage projects and tasks and Google Calendar for appointments and to track time I’m spending on projects. It’s because of the system that I think I’m fairly good at managing time.
Where do you do most of your work?
I worked in an open setting in a co-working space, but it didn’t work for me in the long run. I’m switching to a home office.
Name an entrepreneur/freelancer/influencer who inspires you. What is it about their story/message that resonates?
Coach Chad Carson is an entrepreneur who lives in a way that resonates with me — he’s all about finding a good balance between work and life.
Name 1 thing you would do differently, if you were starting over today?
I would have niched down sooner.
What is your #1 tip for aspiring freelancers?
Start small until you find the kind of work and system that works best for you. Once you find what works and how best you work, it will be much easier to grow.
MMM: Thank you Claudia, for sharing your experience as a freelancer! I love the “#1 tip” you shared. It’s so tempting to want to go big right out of the gate, but growing too quickly can often lead to problems down the road. Great advice!
Next week, I feature Jaime Durheim here on FSS. Jaime is a stay-at-home mom based in Madison, Wisconsin, who turned her passion for the minimalist lifestyle into a freelance decluttering business. It’s an interview you won’t want to miss!
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