Kerry Needs - Branding and Marketing Strategist from Nottingham, UK


This week's edition of our Freelancer Insides series is with Kerry, a freelance Branding and Marketing Strategist currently living in Nottingham, UK. Kerry started off freelancing part-time and has since grown her business to be able to work remotely full-time! Check out our full interview here.

1): Hello Kerry, it’s a pleasure for us to have you here on our blog! First of all, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and what you do?

Hi there, I’m Kerry Needs, a branding and marketing strategist currently living in Nottingham, UK. I have been freelancing for a few years now; I firstly started off part time, and increased my hours over time. I provide clients with advice on branding their company and establishing their marketing strategy. I help them formulate their key marketing messages and tone of voice, and execute a storytelling plan for web content, social media, email marketing, advertising and PR.

2): What was your inspiration and when did you actually decide to become a freelancer?

I’ve always enjoyed being my own boss and managing my own workload; so when I heard about freelancing job sites online, I decided to give it a go. I earned a bit of money on the side, and then took on a local client. Things just progressed from there as I spent more time on it. I then got a full time remote job for a fixed amount of time, and when that ended I decided to pick up freelancing full time.

3): Do you sometimes think about going back to fulltime employment? What are your career goals for the future?

Yes, sometimes. It’s easy to think about it when you have a quiet period or when things get tough, as they inevitably do. But I know that within a few months of being at an office I will start thinking about the time I have and how I would rather be doing something else. I am very creative and am always working on side projects; freelancing gives me the opportunity to do that without feeling too stressed or burned out.

“Freelancing gives me the opportunity to always be working on side projects without feeling too stressed out“

I am currently writing a book called Freedom Seekers: How to create a life that works for you, which is about remote work, creating a healthy work-life balance, and freeing up your time for self-care and doing those things that really make your life worth living. Freelancing gives me the mental headspace to focus on writing, which I love.

4): What was the most challenging obstacle when starting your own business? Did it get even more challenging when hitting the road?

The fluctuation in finances is always tricky; as is setting out a scope of work with a client. I’ve made a few mistakes along the way that I think I’ve learned from. The amount of time you need to spend on growing your business is something I think I underestimated. In the first few years of a startup you need to really focus on getting your proposition right, building up your portfolio and getting your name out there.

5): How do you set yourself apart from your competitors? What makes you special?

I think what makes me different is that I have travelled and read extensively so I feel like I have a good grasp of market trends and what consumers are looking for these days. There’s so many businesses that are stuck in the past and need to move forward; content needs to be engaging, authentic and personable, especially if it needs to reach the younger generation.

For example; there are a number of trends that have just arisen in the last 5 years that are really changing the landscape - the rise of virtual reality, the rise of coworking spaces, the rise of veganism and the rise of mental health initiatives. All of these are connecting us in ways we have never connected before.

6): Let’s go for a question which might be interesting for all newbie freelancers and Start-ups. How do you find new clients? Could you share any marketing tips for freelancers and entrepreneurs?

As I like to work remotely; I build up my reputation on Twitter and LinkedIn as much as I can. I post one thought-leadership blog a month on my website (see link below) and I use online freelancing job sites to find work.

Above all, I try and do a) work I enjoy and b) work I can get excited about. The reason for this is because then I will do my best work, and if I do my best work the client will be happy, and it will be a strong portfolio piece for me to secure further work. I am also a member of many Digital Nomad Facebook groups, there are lots of people on there always posting remote jobs.

When marketing yourself, just look to consistently refine and improve your content - it will grow with you as you grow.

“I try and do work I enjoy because then I will do my best work.“

7): How do you manage the pressure of meeting deadlines? Do you use any specific apps or software tools for self-organization, invoicing and something else?

I use Google Calendar to block out periods of time; although I usually end up juggling it around. In terms of deadlines, I ensure I have enough contingency time should something come up or I get stuck - it’s really a case of forward planning. For long term goals, I use Trello to create lists and things I want to pick up at a later date. I use Harvest to track time if I’m working to a specific budget.

8): You have been working remotely for a while now and that makes organization tips even more complicated. How do you manage to be on the road? How often do you change cities and how do you make the most of the experience of travelling while working?

I enjoy working remotely, but when I’m travelling I like to travel. I’m too much of a sun worshipper and people person to be sat behind a computer when I’m abroad! So when I travel, I will do the basics like answer my emails or do a bit of writing each day, but I try to make sure I can totally switch off, otherwise I wouldn’t be fully present in enjoying my travel experience.

I work from Nottingham and the UK most of the time, but in the last couple of years have travelled to Venice, Bali, Ibiza, Rhodes and France. Travel really fuels me; every time I get back from a trip I am even more motivated to pursue my goals.

9): Is being your own boss what you expected? What do you love most about your work? Is there one particular project that you are especially proud of?

Yes and no. It is wonderful but also very hard. You really have to face up to your own mindset, and recognise where you may be holding yourself back. You also have to admit where you make mistakes, and try to learn better from them next time.

What I love most about being a freelancer is being able to set my own tasks. Ultimately, it’s up to me what kind of work I take on, and how much I am willing to put in. I know that hard work and effort will pay off, and sometimes my work surprises me as I can be far more creative when working at a strategic level.

For example, I recently did a piece of branding strategy for a client, and he wanted to talk through it on the phone. In my mind, I was worried about the things he may critique, but he loved it and wanted me to expand on certain points further. Things like that have really given me more faith in my abilities.

“Being your own boss is wonderful but hard. You have to be able to admit where you may be holding yourself back, and try to learn from those mistakes.“

10): Last but not least, what advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting a freelance career? 

I would say: Ensure you have a significant cushion of money, not just to fall back on, but to make you feel emotionally safe, and allow you to invest in your business and brand.

Being successful as a freelancer means being committed to yourself, and having daily discipline. Even when you think what you are doing is tough, remember you are creating a life on your own terms, and living more flexibly.

When you’re on the road try meetup groups and digital nomad facebook groups so you can meet people in a similar situation. Coworking spaces are great for meeting likeminded people too. Above all, persevere and you’ll get there!

Freestyle! Is there anything you would like to tell our readers?

You’re better than you think you are; you just need to believe it. Don’t try and run before you can walk, just keep going with the freelance work, and eventually, it will snowball, and clients will seek you out instead of the other way around.


Follow her on twitter @kerryneeds
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