Side Hustle City

Build a Successful Freelance Career and Financial Independence with Ashley Stanford

March 21, 2024 Adam Koehler & Kyle Stevie with Ashley Stanford Season 6 Episode 18
Build a Successful Freelance Career and Financial Independence with Ashley Stanford
Side Hustle City
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Side Hustle City
Build a Successful Freelance Career and Financial Independence with Ashley Stanford
Mar 21, 2024 Season 6 Episode 18
Adam Koehler & Kyle Stevie with Ashley Stanford

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Ever dreamt of shaking off the 9-to-5 shackles and venturing into the world of freelancing? Get ready to be swept into a world where your side hustle becomes your main gig, and your network is your net worth. Joining us is Ashley Stanford, who'll share her seamless networking strategies that open doors to endless possibilities. As your host, I'll match Ashley's tales with my own route from designer to creative director, discussing the liberating aspects of freelancing – shaping your narrative, selecting your clientele, and setting your own metrics for success.

Navigating the freelance marketing landscape can be as intricate as it is rewarding. In this episode, drawing from my firsthand experience in sectors from medical devices to event ticketing with Ticket Socket, I reveal invaluable strategies on analytics, targeted advertising, and the ins and outs of engaging email and SMS campaigns. And let's not forget about the power of your past - we'll explore how old agency connections can be the golden ticket to flourishing freelance opportunities and weigh the pros and cons of collaborating with larger agencies. These partnerships could be the crucible where your marketing consultancy career is forged.

As we wrap up, we wade through the perks freelancing can unleash – think passive income from evergreen content and the joy of curating a diverse project portfolio. Ashley and I discuss the pivotal role of financial savvy, from pricing your services to the fine art of tax management, and recommend tools like FreshBooks to keep the finances in check. Plus, discover the unexpected might of platforms like Pinterest in monetizing your blogging efforts, and get a sneak peek into my startup, Ice Cream Social, which is making waves alongside Comcast and NBC. Tune in for a candid blend of advice, personal anecdotes, and, of course, a good laugh or two – all served up to help you navigate your future in the freelance cosmos.

Learn more about Ashley at:
https://ashleyncline.com

As you're inspired to embark on your side hustle journey after listening to this episode, you might wonder where to start or how to make your vision a reality.  With a team of experienced marketing professionals and a track record of helping clients achieve their dreams, we are ready to assist you in reaching your goals. To find out more, visit www.reversedout.com.

FranchiseU!
FranchiseU! is for those in, or considering, careers within the world of franchising.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Subscribe to Side Hustle City and join our Community on Facebook

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Ever dreamt of shaking off the 9-to-5 shackles and venturing into the world of freelancing? Get ready to be swept into a world where your side hustle becomes your main gig, and your network is your net worth. Joining us is Ashley Stanford, who'll share her seamless networking strategies that open doors to endless possibilities. As your host, I'll match Ashley's tales with my own route from designer to creative director, discussing the liberating aspects of freelancing – shaping your narrative, selecting your clientele, and setting your own metrics for success.

Navigating the freelance marketing landscape can be as intricate as it is rewarding. In this episode, drawing from my firsthand experience in sectors from medical devices to event ticketing with Ticket Socket, I reveal invaluable strategies on analytics, targeted advertising, and the ins and outs of engaging email and SMS campaigns. And let's not forget about the power of your past - we'll explore how old agency connections can be the golden ticket to flourishing freelance opportunities and weigh the pros and cons of collaborating with larger agencies. These partnerships could be the crucible where your marketing consultancy career is forged.

As we wrap up, we wade through the perks freelancing can unleash – think passive income from evergreen content and the joy of curating a diverse project portfolio. Ashley and I discuss the pivotal role of financial savvy, from pricing your services to the fine art of tax management, and recommend tools like FreshBooks to keep the finances in check. Plus, discover the unexpected might of platforms like Pinterest in monetizing your blogging efforts, and get a sneak peek into my startup, Ice Cream Social, which is making waves alongside Comcast and NBC. Tune in for a candid blend of advice, personal anecdotes, and, of course, a good laugh or two – all served up to help you navigate your future in the freelance cosmos.

Learn more about Ashley at:
https://ashleyncline.com

As you're inspired to embark on your side hustle journey after listening to this episode, you might wonder where to start or how to make your vision a reality.  With a team of experienced marketing professionals and a track record of helping clients achieve their dreams, we are ready to assist you in reaching your goals. To find out more, visit www.reversedout.com.

FranchiseU!
FranchiseU! is for those in, or considering, careers within the world of franchising.

Listen on: Apple Podcasts   Spotify

Support the Show.

Subscribe to Side Hustle City and join our Community on Facebook

Speaker 3:

Welcome to Side Hustle City and thanks for joining us. Our goal is to help you connect to real people who found success turning their side hustle into a main hustle, and we hope you can too. I'm Adam Kaler. I'm joined by Kyle Stevie, my co-host. Let's get started, all right. Welcome back, guys, to the Side Hustle City podcast. Another episode with Kyle Stevie actually in studio, to my right.

Speaker 1:

He should all buy lottery tickets, you lucky bastards.

Speaker 3:

I know no volleyball practice, no driving kids around.

Speaker 1:

We actually have all of our cars. None of them are in the garage, none of them are in the shop, so that I don't have any way to get anywhere.

Speaker 3:

Well, kyle is here, guys, and today we also have Ashley Stanford with us. Ashley, welcome to the show.

Speaker 2:

Hey guys, thanks for having me.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, and we just talked a little bit before the show. You are also a fellow Ohioan at one point, from Toledo, your husband's from Cleveland. So Northern Ohio talking to Southern Ohio here.

Speaker 2:

I love it yeah.

Speaker 3:

And a lot of good marketing people come out of Ohio, like we had a lot of marketing people here in Cincinnati and you guys do too.

Speaker 2:

I agree, I agree.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, we're regular people, ashley. We're America, we represent America.

Speaker 2:

I live in California now and it is so easy to find other Midwesterners, midwesterners, ohioans. We are just very like-minded and kind.

Speaker 1:

And you all left a stake.

Speaker 2:

Everywhere I go, I'm like oh, you must be from the Midwest.

Speaker 3:

That's right. Somebody opens a door for you. You're like you're not from California.

Speaker 2:

Nope, isn't it weird, like it's just-.

Speaker 1:

Like shit. You go to South Carolina, you've tripped and you've fallen somebody from Ohio. It's crazy, it is crazy.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's North Carolina. If you say pop in North Carolina, they think you're from Cincinnati. They're like who's from Cincinnati? Like how do you know? You said pop, but there's a lot of places. Do you guys say pop up in Northern Ohio or soda?

Speaker 2:

I say pop. In California they do say soda.

Speaker 3:

It's so stupid because it's soda.

Speaker 1:

We always call them soft drinks.

Speaker 3:

Angry but it's soda pop. But soda is the descriptive word for what it actually is.

Speaker 1:

It's pop. It was also one of my nemesis on Mike Tyson's punch out oh yeah, I forgot about that I forgot about that, yeah that's right, I forgot all about that.

Speaker 3:

Well, ashley, today we're talking marketing Guys. If you're out there and you are looking for a side hustle, it's one that I can recommend. It's one that got me out of my nine to five grind working at advertising agencies just being a designer. There's not a whole lot of money generally you make as a designer. I mean you can make decent money it depends on what you're working on right. But you got to get up into that creative director type of position and you got to fight a lot of battles on your way up that ladder. And I just like doing my own stuff. I like having my own clients. I like you know deciding how much money I essentially want to make every year and you know how much work do I want to take on. I mean, that's what happens when you do your own thing, when you're able to freelance and Ashley's here to talk all about freelance. And, ashley, what's your background? Are you previously in an agency you mentioned on your website here, ashleynclientcom. You got a nice list of clients here.

Speaker 2:

Oh, thank you. Yes, so let's see my background. I've always started out very scrappy, to say. I went into marketing honestly, because that was the only class in high school that I got a decent grade in. So it just seemed like a natural transition for me. And I did start out always kind of consulting, always loved sales. So when I first started my career I was working with a company that was doing web design. So I started out in sales and through sales I learned to network and meet people.

Speaker 2:

So I would say that was a big foundation of you know, being able to freelance to begin with is knowing how to do sales and talk to people, which I think goes hand in hand with marketing. Anyways, you need to know how to sell yourself if you want to be a freelancer and you need to know how to communicate with people. So I would say anyone who is looking to freelance or really get your side hustle going, networking is always a great place to start just getting comfortable talking to people. I used to go to a lot of Chamber of Commerce events to people and for anyone I know we live in a world now where everything is so digital, but for anyone that finds it totally awkward to network and meet people.

Speaker 2:

One of the best things that I would do is I would go to these kind of like evening mixers events at a lot of these Chambers of Commerce or local networking groups put on and I would stand at the front door where everyone was entering and as soon as somebody walks in because it's awkward for everyone to be there and talk to people about what you do but as soon as they walk in I'm on the first faces they see, so they introduce themselves to me because they think I work there and then I can tell them that I don't work there. And then the great thing is is you meet everyone that walks in the door and then, once the actual event is like taking place and everyone's gotten there all those people who feel uncomfortable talking to other people in the room and don't know what to do they see your face and they go to you because you're familiar face. They met you right away. They've already broken the ice and it's just a great way to really talk to people and that's a good tip.

Speaker 3:

See, I never. I just I don't know I'm extroverted, but when I'm in a group like that, I don't know how to break the ice. I've never been a good ice breaker, but once I get to talking, you can't stop me, like I just I'll talk forever and I'll talk about random things like genetics and stuff like that with people who are not interested in it at all, and I'll just start going down whatever I'm interested in at the time and if they don't like it, too bad, you're going to listen to it anyway, because I can't stop talking.

Speaker 2:

It's a good way to find your people.

Speaker 3:

Kyle knows how this works. Kyle's been around me enough he knows my problem. But Kyle's in sales. Kyle's. Kyle's used to all kinds of sales strategies and different types of people. What would you say, kyle, or some of the more? What is the personality type? What are some of the things that a good sales person somebody who's able to sell themselves and sell their services what kind of personality or qualities does that person have? You've seen a lot of them, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I actually. I mean, some of them are simple, like the Doug comes in and he's got a smile on his, he's very nice and he's very funny and that's a no brainer. That guy's going to be great in sales. The ones that, the ones that I want to talk about, the ones that surprised the shit out of me and this isn't how I speak with them in sales. No, I speak like this now because this is kind of like your show and you speak.

Speaker 1:

As you speak, fast and animated, it's like do we have two people like that? Nobody's ever going to listen to this. So I try to be calm, but I'm not like Doug. There are guys that I've helped, that I were when I first heard them speak. You just think, dude, how do you even tie your shoes in the morning? There's no way that anyone's ever going to listen.

Speaker 1:

But that I think, when you have perseverance and you can express like an understanding of knowledge and make it clear and concise, it doesn't have to sound like sales, yeah, and it doesn't have to sound like F Scott's Fitzgerald wrote your, your, your script, right. But you, you sound like you know what you're talking about and you have the confidence in your tone. You don't have to be the most animated person in the world, you just have to come across as trustworthy. So you either it can be like the life of the party kind of sales guy and people are going to roll the dice because they're like well, he seems like he's like, he's really energetic, he's a lot of fun to be around, or you seem like you're a subject matter expert near trustworthy.

Speaker 1:

I think those are the two that really hit it the most. Now, if you come across the subject matter expert, you live, you live. You live a slower life, it's it's. You know your career is not going to be a skyrocket. You know you're not on the rocket ship just because it takes people longer to warm up to you, but you treat that your sales growth is from earning trust. Like they're in a pinch and they need they need help or they have a new for you guys, that they have a new project coming up and they need to. They need to make sure that it's within budget and it's perfect.

Speaker 1:

Like you want the guy that you know knows what they're, knows what they're doing, perhaps seems organized, seems structured as opposed to the guy that like looks like he's flying by the seat of his pants, like me, I'm always coming up with crazy new ideas.

Speaker 3:

Ashley, you might be the same way, because you're in marketing and you're a designer type person. So we're always like, oh, do you know what else we could do with this? And oh man, you do always come up with like new ideas for your clients.

Speaker 2:

For sure I do have to catch myself sometimes from that shiny object syndrome. I for sure, like always, have to have a good strategy in place I can always come back to. But I for sure have a couple clients who are like I. Like your ideas, I'll try anything. Bring them to me, I don't care how crazy they are. So when something comes up, I've got some guinea pigs usually ready.

Speaker 3:

Nice. Are you very structured, like, do you have a lot of processes? In my experience, I just kind of do things as they come in. I don't have a crazy process, like I have somebody who checks my email every day and lets me know what meetings I have coming up and like what I actually need to get done in the day, and we'll just put it on the calendar. Oh, you got a PA, huh yeah, oh yeah, yeah, that's what Jen does and we'll put it on the calendar. So she'll have on there. From one o'clock to two o'clock, do this. From two o'clock to three o'clock, do this, and sometimes I'll just move those to the next day because I spent way too much time on Twitter or doing something else. So do you have like a more structured? Do you talk to your clients, because you're a consultant also. So do you have that structure in place? Do you find that helpful or are you more kind of like fluid?

Speaker 2:

I you know it's weird, I need both.

Speaker 2:

I need a little bit of both, but I can't have too much of either one. And I do think my early years working with agencies like scrappy upcoming agencies for this skill. But I feel that I can work really well in both sides of my brain, meaning I will carve out a couple, two to three hours each day where I'm not going to schedule calls and that's going to be my deep work hours, where I'm going to get stuff done and knock out what needs to get done without distractions, but in that sense, where I can, you know, work on reports and analyze numbers and use that side of my brain. I can also very easily switch into creativity and brainstorming, and that is something that I was just forced to do a lot in agency life, because you have to be thinking very strategic, high level, but then you also have to know how to roll up your sleeves and get the work done and make it work. So I can't say I've got like some processes that work for me, but nothing like no hard.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so you say blonde hair. Looking at this, looking at the website. That was you on the website.

Speaker 2:

Variety is the spice of life. I like to change my hair a lot, oh there you go. Sometimes it's blonde, sometimes it's short.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, you mix it up. I didn't know if that was your partner on there, and then I saw it was you. It was like, oh, wow, okay.

Speaker 3:

It was like your brand. Your brand is changing.

Speaker 2:

You can't even think about updating that picture. There you go. It looks like I'm teaching it does look like you're teaching.

Speaker 3:

It's a good picture, yeah.

Speaker 2:

You're teaching with brown hair, so I have to roll with that.

Speaker 1:

I mean, it is awesome website.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, actually it's really informative. And what is the shop portion here? So you're selling? Are you selling brands of your own or are you selling?

Speaker 2:

It's just linking off to some products that I like.

Speaker 3:

Oh, interesting. Okay, Because I did notice on your site you do work with some clients that I actually think are really cool, one of those being Meow Wolf. So not many people probably even know what Meow Wolf is, but it is like essentially an art installation in. Is it the one in Vegas that you were working on?

Speaker 2:

I did not, the one in Vegas, the one in New Mexico.

Speaker 3:

Ah okay. So how did you interact with them? I mean, that's like a it's cool. It's like a grocery store, that's all weird stuff. It's like an entire grocery store is weird stuff. And then there's like a cave in the back that you like a consignment, it's like weird. It's like aliens took over this. It's like you're in another dimension.

Speaker 2:

When you go in stranger thing.

Speaker 3:

Yes, very much a stranger things.

Speaker 2:

In my marketing consulting life I have essentially two areas that I play in one medical device, so I have a lot of extensive medical device experience, and then events. So I work with a company called Ticket Socket, which is a white labeled ticketing solution, and I support their clients on their marketing strategies. So in cases it could be like simple helping them configure all their analytics and how it works and talking them through like what I'm seeing work in the industry to sell tickets advertising strategies, email marketing, sms, whatever the case may be. So with all of our clients at Ticket Socket I work in different capacities. For some I actually execute all their marketing for them, and then in some it's just kind of like I'm here as a resource and we touch base and talk about what's working and what's not.

Speaker 1:

So you kind of like, and this is not my world, this is your guys world. But looking at the website, if you can go back to real quick, a lot of the clients she worked with were in partnership with you know, partnership with Ticket Socket.

Speaker 3:

Smart social media.

Speaker 1:

So it reminds me kind of like how you guys at DotLoop had to go to the brokerage house itself instead of the individual realtor.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, or it reversed out.

Speaker 1:

I mean we do that now, like most of my clients actually come through other agencies, so that's how you do it in marketing as you go through like a big agency and then they say we need you to take this person, or they have this project that needs to be taken care of.

Speaker 3:

That's a really good point actually, because, Ashley, because when you start out your, your consulting practice or your agency, you don't have a huge network. I mean, I had a decent size network because I worked at other agencies and Ashley brought it up Like that's how one way you can actually build your network is by actually working in the industry but then letting people know like hey, I'm available for freelance because it's so incestuous and here in Cincinnati. So that's like actually okay.

Speaker 1:

so there are some things you can't do, that you can't like work for somebody and say, all right, I'm also on the side.

Speaker 3:

Oh no, you can't doing this. They don't want you to do that, but you do it anyway. Okay, but most of the people that in Ashley tell me if this is your experience or not. I worked at a big agency because in Cincinnati, you know, Procter and Gamble's here. It's the largest Spender of advertising dollars in the world and they're here in Cincinnati. So we have a lot of agencies here and I worked for them and I went actually back as a freelancer. So everyone in the company and we had like 350 people in that in that company they all knew me as Adam the freelance designer guy, right?

Speaker 1:

So when they left, one of the ways they knew you. Yeah, there are other ways. Yeah, dr.

Speaker 3:

Phil and judge Joe Brown were another way. But then when, when I left, I started my own business because I noticed they were bringing in a lot of freelancers and I'm like man, they people leave a lot well, they leave and they go to other marketing agencies that need freelancers and you just. It just builds from there. So talk a little bit about that, ashley, if that's something you've dealt with too.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely so. Yeah, as you can see, a lot of those clients I work with are in partnership with smarty social media or in partnership with TicketSocket, and I've worked with both of those companies for 10, 15 years Along with, you know, clients of my own and clients with other agencies and what I found when I, you know truly Decided you know what I'm gonna do freelancing full-time. As much as I love sales, I was spending so much time Doing sales and not enough time doing what I like to do with the marketing, and Not only that. I felt that Pitching certain customers that we're looking for a freelancer. They're also very picky about their budget and they're also the most difficult clients to work with sometimes.

Speaker 2:

So eventually, I found this happy world where, yes, a lot of these agencies want a freelancer because their clients are coming and going, they're doing special projects. They may not want to have a full-time employee, but they always want someone that they can tap, and A lot of times, these agencies have more than full-time work for freelancers for an ongoing basis, and so I found that that works best for me because, one, these companies are doing the hard work with sales. They're bringing in clients that have budgets to work with and I just get to focus on the work that I like to do and Pick and choose the things that I want to work on that's exactly my experience, and if it's my experience and it's your experience is probably gonna be the experience of a lot of the people.

Speaker 3:

If you plan on jumping into Freelance work consulting design work, consulting marketing work, any of this, anything in this marketing world you can essentially freelance yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

And all of these People that I work with in partnership, these agencies, these companies, obviously they know I freelance, I consult, I do a lot of things and they're cool with that. And Actually they'll bring me clients and say, hey, you know what, we can't work with you, but this is a special project and you know what, once you just go work with Ashley Without us in the middle, yeah, does.

Speaker 1:

Is there like a reciprocity? So if you, let's say, you get something that's maybe not, you don't have the bandwidth for, and you send it to someone else, do you get a percentage of the contract Like a finders fee, like the lawyers would do?

Speaker 2:

Sometimes you know, if I bring one of these agencies a big account in a sense, then yeah, there can be finder fees. I'm not always like out there looking for finder fees. I've got a lot of freelance friends of projects I don't want to take on or not in my realm, or I'll happily just say, hey, go work with this person and I don't care about a finders fee. If there is one cool, I'm not gonna say no to money.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and I think the benefit of this to Ashley is you don't necessarily have to have full-time employees. You can. You can use the Hollywood model like I've always done for 13 years that I've owned my agency and I just bring people in on a per-project basis and I've had to go through some crappy Freelancers and pick up the slack. But I eventually settled on a group of freelancers that I really like and I just bring them into projects and then I'll just you know, they'll come in, they'll bill me, I'll just build a client for those hours and that's how it'll work.

Speaker 2:

Yes, that works great for me and it allows me to keep this sense of freedom that I love, like time freedom, opportunity, freedom and not, you know, necessarily have the overhead of running an agency, which is just not what I want. I love working with the agencies, but I don't want to run one and marketing goes up and down to.

Speaker 3:

I don't know if you know this, kyle, but there's like a wave that happens in marketing. Is it seasonal?

Speaker 1:

or are you talking?

Speaker 3:

No, this is like years at a time this is years at a time. So it'll be like companies will hire everybody in-house. They'll want in-house marketing teams and then they won't want in-house marketing teams and the one in-house marketing teams again and then they won't want in. That's like transportation.

Speaker 1:

They won't drop trailer. They don't want drop trailer. They want to drop trailer. No, we want guys be able to come here and get loaded and get out. Yeah, it's so like P&G.

Speaker 3:

P&G will just start hiring a bunch of people internally and then they'll just decide one day no, no, no, we just want to. We don't want LH people here. We'll just work with an agency and then they hire the agency to do most of that. Get out peasants.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, they bring them back in nothing to us, yeah and that's the problem in this industry actually is.

Speaker 3:

It's just nobody's loyal Like this is probably the most unloyal. Hey, like it more than like sports probably is probably the only other one. Like, if you're a hack now, like you turn 30 years old and you're running back, you're gone right.

Speaker 1:

It's the same in the agency cost of the same's like there's a little bit Sorry to cut you off. It seems like there's a little barrier and entry in this. It's kind of like you got your degree and then you can Compete right away, as opposed to having the bond get by, a bond like for freight brokering or for care. At least you have to put $35,000 down to have a bond that people can claim. If you really screw some people over, this seems like that's. Yeah, I could see you. I could see it being very, very difficult sometimes.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, if you have a job and actually that's probably one of the reasons you and I wanted to be freelancers- yes, as I mentioned before, it's really that Core desired feeling for me is freedom.

Speaker 2:

You know, I started out my career like wanting financial freedom, and then it evolved to time freedom and now it's evolved to Opportunity freedom of just the choice to take on what I want very California yeah. Yeah, thank you.

Speaker 3:

But but also you get to kind of create your own future. It's not that you know you don't necessarily need to work for somebody when you're, when you're a freelancer, when you're a designer, a writer, you, you pick up gigs, right, and then you get you build relationships with agencies, like Ashley's done Over time, and it's just something that builds up and I think a lot of people and they're looking to do a side hustle they think, oh, that's just takes too long. Oh, I don't know. You know you've got that that doubt that people have in their brains. What do you tell people when you're talking to other? People were thinking about freelance and how do you, how do you get them over that self-doubt?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, for those people that don't want to invest the time, I just think time's gonna pass anyways. And From being in the industry, there are Things that I dreamed about or kind of fiddled and started with years ago and Didn't do anything with it for years later and finally picked it up and I'm just like, oh my gosh, if I would have just done this years ago. You know, you got to dig your well before you're thirsty and you just got a. You do got to have a little bit of you know, self-initiation, of you know wanting, desiring something and going for it or just sit at a desk all day and do what your overlords tell you.

Speaker 1:

And that's a great line.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, no, we always have good people like good line. Dig your well before your 30s.

Speaker 1:

Just wrote a book about never heard a book of just the one-liners, the like one line and one liners for wisdom. Yeah, we would have like one of the best sales books of all time. We're like the self. You know what is this? Self-affirmation type books.

Speaker 3:

I know Ashley chapter.

Speaker 1:

Right there You're well before you're thirsty.

Speaker 3:

See, yeah, is that an Ohio thing did you come up with? Is that like a northern Ohio thing? Did you brought to California? Did you hear that in California or did?

Speaker 2:

you just make that up. Yeah, I must have learned that back on the farm one day.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, farm, that makes sense to do. Have a well reference.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm definitely already in existence, but well, tell people, ashley.

Speaker 3:

One of the things I always run into is when I'm talking to the you know people that it's the old agency. So people will come to me because now I've owned my agency for 12, 13 years However long it's been almost 14 years I've got people that are aging out of the agency world. Like I said, it's not a loyal Universe to be in. They will get rid of your butt. As soon as you start making over a hundred grand, they're looking to replace you with three college students. That's just the way the industry works, because it's about numbers, right? When somebody says, well, how many people are at your agency? What's the biggest agency in Cincinnati? Oh, it's this one with 300 people. Well, they get to that number because they're getting rid of their Highly paid people and they're bringing in a bunch of junior talent and you got to stay young the whole time, because it's all of them Like that's a relevant.

Speaker 1:

So it's so predicated on being up with the times like 100% gotta be the Rolling Stones as opposed to kiss you can't. You got to age gracefully, as opposed to trying to hold on to that one trick pony you had.

Speaker 3:

Well, ashley I don't know if you've dealt with this too, because you've, probably because you have a successful agency you've probably had other senior level type people that maybe you worked within a past that called you and say, ashley, do you got something for me? Or, ashley, I'm thinking about leaving this agency and start my own thing. Do you have people like that that you've encountered?

Speaker 2:

Oh, for sure. I mean, just in my years of consulting and working with different agencies, I always have people that let me know they're leaving, they're going somewhere else do would I be interested in taking on some freelance work at their new place, or do I know of any? You know people I could refer them to for sure it, you know it's still always going to come back to that networking. You know you want to have good relationships with people because you never know. You know you may be able to refer a friend to a really great company to do something, and people being a connector is still important.

Speaker 1:

People remember that and that's this is not a burn bridges type of world to be in no more of a king make you want to be more of a kingmaker, then yeah, you want to help other people.

Speaker 3:

This is very much a like I'll help you. Oh, I know of something that's available. You should do this. But then the problem is, though, you have a lot of people who think that, oh, I'm just going to go freelance. My agency was billing at $350 an hour. I'm going to start billing at $350. What they don't understand is a half that money goes to London or wherever the parent organization is, and so they think they're just going to be billing at $300 an hour, and they're at $3,350, and they're just going to work all day. They're going to do design work for eight hours. That is not the case. You spend more time doing admin work and non-billable, you know respond to RFPs or chasing people down for money or whatever.

Speaker 1:

Like half of your day is admin so what point is it better to hire somebody to take care of that for you? You gotta be making the money that's that's.

Speaker 3:

The problem is, do you ever get to that point where you can have somebody take that on for you, and maybe Ashley could? Could? I don't know, what did you do, ashley?

Speaker 2:

yeah, you do got to get to a point where you are making enough to hire out some of those things that you don't want to do and hold you back from being successful. I would say, when you get into freelancing if you're new or thinking about getting into this or maybe you got a couple years under your belt, one you definitely want to understand the financial side of freelancing. I would say when I first started my career, the best advice that I got is someone was like oh, you are not charging enough, you need to like quadruple that that's great advice.

Speaker 2:

I know and this came from an agency lady and I was like young in my 20s, didn't have a lot of experience yet, and she's like, and I think I was like, oh, I'm gonna charge them $35 an hour. And she's like, no, you need to go on at 150. And in my head I was like there's, I'm so scared I can't ask that. And I just did and I never looked back, and so that was like the greatest advice that I ever got, because I soon learned, after getting some of my first clients and billing at an hourly rate.

Speaker 2:

I don't always bill hourly right now, but you learn that there are a lot more expenses that go into it and you do have to think about things like your taxes and setting money aside and figuring out as soon as you can and make enough money. You don't want to be a sole proprietor anymore. You need to incorporate yourself to help save money on taxes and all kinds of things that I did not understand at first. So I would make sure, if you're new, charge more than what you think you need to charge, which I know is a little bit different story than what you told. You probably can't come in to charge 350 like an agency rate, but you can probably charge more than you think More than you're making at your, at the company, that's for sure.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. And then you know, look at tools like. Over the years I've used tools like fresh books or bench, or now I use a tool called Vincent to manage all of your bookkeeping, like keep your books clean. As soon as you can spend a couple hundred bucks a month to use one of those companies and keep your finances in order, it will for sure create a really great foundation for you.

Speaker 3:

I 100% believe in that. Like I spent years with my books just a hot mess and I didn't care because I was paying myself and I had enough money coming in, it was like I cares, my books tomorrow.

Speaker 1:

I'll get it tomorrow. I'll get it tomorrow.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it's yeah, and then it's just snowballs, yeah anybody has ever had to deal with accounting shit.

Speaker 1:

You got to reconcile that every month and you're the one that has to do you like, and it's not that important, I'll be fine well, what I found.

Speaker 3:

I got more important things like making money right now yeah, well, or you get so busy working on your business like the accounting takes us the accounting secondary compared to like making money. Dude, I'm responsible for my accounting.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I know, oh, in your company, oh, wow, for like collecting and stuff on my accounts and I know exactly what it's like and we're 100% reliable on not reliable reliant reliant on truck drivers from like Uzbekistan understanding what's being written on these bills of lighting to make sure there's no claims or anything like that. And what? 30 days later you get it. You're like well, you didn't deliver like 165 cases. Now I gotta go back and go back.

Speaker 3:

It's just night here I just found out I'm paternal related to Uzbekistan. People all the stands.

Speaker 1:

You realize you're good for a person who does not trust the government. You are giving the federal government all your DNA information. They don't care about mine. They don't care about it they do. They found out I was related to all these people in the stands me they don't care about, but you, you're the one trying to run for every office that there isn't a land out of there gonna be like man.

Speaker 3:

This dude is related to all the crazy people, um, but yeah, so. So on your website, one thing I like is that you're actually giving people a lot of advice on your blog here and you've got these different categories uh, in freelance business, just what we're talking about is one of your categories, and in there you're talking about uh operations. You're talking about legal structure, you're talking about why you even want to do this, and we already talked a little bit about that. But what made you want to put so much effort into just building content around, I mean, helping other people make this move?

Speaker 2:

Because I've made mistakes in the past and definitely want to share the information that will help people not make those same mistakes.

Speaker 1:

You say it, so I don't know like everybody does it that way, but not everybody does it that way. A lot of people like to hold their personal experience close to their chest, to use it kind of as a competitive advantage. But you're not. You're freely sharing it Very transparent. Yeah, it's very nice.

Speaker 2:

I maybe it was like Bernay Brown or somebody said something once and this is a little more emotional than what we're talking about but you don't want to share the wounds, so you don't want to share while you're going through it. But once they're scars and they've healed, then you can share and help other people because you're going to have a better perspective.

Speaker 3:

That's a good way to look at it, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I can play the good approach. I completely agree. I just I don't think people do it. I don't know the way you deliver. It was kind of like yes, just basically in an industry standard we share with each other, but I don't think it is really.

Speaker 2:

Is it a Midwest thing?

Speaker 3:

Might be a Midwest thing, because I'm always trying to help people too. I just can't. I hate seeing people struggle and seeing people broke and I'm like, after five seasons doing this podcast, there's absolutely no reason anybody should be broke.

Speaker 1:

Well, the real in America the real, the syndicate, this like they're getting some body slam. But the syndicators, the mid-level size guys, they're like that because they know that they have to compete together and be as nice to each other as they can in the competition, because they're competing against, like BlackRock and people that are oh yeah, financial, they got to be so large that they can't compete unless they there's some sort of like loose they have to have a competitive advantage.

Speaker 3:

Alliance of ideas yeah, but I mean, ashley, you're helping people in multiple ways, I mean, and the thing I like about what you're doing is is you're not necessarily branding a company, you're branding yourself, which can be difficult for a lot of people. People are afraid to talk about themselves, especially where we come from and where you come from particular, I mean, I'm at least from the city and I'm in a city of branding people, and people don't have a problem talking about themselves here, necessarily, but people, you're a farm girl, right, like I mean, talking about yourself is something that you didn't get probably raised to do, right.

Speaker 2:

No, it's still not super comfortable to me. I really just have a website, because sometimes I'm like on podcasts and I like to write and I like to share information. I just need a place to put it. I'm not necessarily out there saying, hey, check this out, I just need a place to store my thoughts and can I tell you something of actually why? So my website? I probably haven't updated it in years, but I want to tell, I want to tell this story to inspire some people listening. So many, many years ago I would say this was probably eight years ago I wrote one blog post and it's gonna sound really stupid, but it was. I like to read books, as you can see behind me, I think. I read a Tim Ferriss book and he talked about how you should eat sardines every morning and I wrote about my experience, about how I ate sardines every single day, and I kind of like to play with the human optimization stuff here and there.

Speaker 2:

And so this is why I like to sometimes publish blog posts. So Pinterest is a cool platform. It doesn't get a lot of story time because the ads aren't the same as Facebook, but let me tell you something cool about advertising on Pinterest. I put, I think, $200 towards a pin on Pinterest that drove traffic to this blog post and this was eight years ago, and that pin got tons of repins and click-throughs and whatever, and the blog post in general.

Speaker 2:

The topic was about Whole30, which is a particular diet, if anyone's ever heard of it, and once you stop paying for that ad if you stop paying for an ad on Facebook, it disappears, it's gone, but on Pinterest it still lives there organically and it continues to get picked up and repinned and people see how much traction it's gotten, which they don't know came from paid dollars at first. So that one blog post during peak months where people do Whole30, which is like September and January or big months where people do that to this day I still get so much traffic and I still make decent money off one blog post that I wrote eight years ago. So I like to think like each little blog post is kind of like putting money in the stock market and you know every month it'll make you a little bit of money and you just keep creating content and putting things out there.

Speaker 1:

I gotta get off my ass, dude. I'm telling you I wrote a book and I'm not going to bore you with it, but the bad fact of matter is I haven't done shit to market this.

Speaker 3:

I haven't done it to market it. Yeah, same with mine, and you know website together.

Speaker 1:

I need to get apparently I need to get on Pinterest. I thought I was just about like mudrooms and closets and Pinterest is very female oriented, though too.

Speaker 3:

It's 85%, I think is what the demographic is on Pinterest 80, 85. I don't know.

Speaker 2:

I think there's still a pretty decent. I don't know the exact statistics, but I think there's more male than they like to admit.

Speaker 1:

Maybe it wouldn't hit quite as hard with female. Maybe I don't know the one that the people that are most interested are been in the topic that I've spoken with have been female. Okay, it's like a crypto thing, and you know crypto is a crypto.

Speaker 3:

It's tokenization of assets.

Speaker 1:

So you don't know, maybe real estate people Different way to do stocks.

Speaker 3:

Real estate. If you tie it into real estate a little bit too, because a lot of real estate agents are female, so that would that would be a good way to get into the Pinterest thing.

Speaker 1:

If you put a bet on it, especially this year, because this is supposed to be the year that it starts becoming mainstream.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, oh, that's true. Yeah, so I mean there's a lot.

Speaker 2:

Oh good, Pinterest doesn't have to be it.

Speaker 1:

No. Go get traffic organically, YouTube, other places, but I think I know I was just saying something that's like something that's like outside of the box, what I was thinking like $200 to drop a pen is nothing. I need the website and I need the material and that's going to be just. It's going to be an awesome website too, because I've really gotten a dad jokes, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Oh, you're just not going to be a dad joke.

Speaker 1:

No, no, no, no but it will have a joke a day. There you go.

Speaker 2:

Oh, but you need TikTok. Think of those social platforms that have evergreen content, where people are searching on them, like searching into YouTube, tiktok, pinterest that would be the place to double down.

Speaker 1:

Well, I have. I'm going to start in June with and I'm sorry I forgot his name the young kid that did all the drone footage for Osh oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Oh, you're working with him. Cool Okay, Jaden, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Jaden, jaden Moore, he's going to do a video for you. No, he's going to buy his package. He's doing the whole social media promotion thing. It's going to be Instagram and in TikTok and all that stuff.

Speaker 3:

Ashley, are you, are you doing the social media management stuff, or are you? Are you bringing other people in? I'm sure you get that a lot.

Speaker 2:

I, early in my career, did a lot of that, unless content writing, posting optimization. I don't do that now. I'll write content if I need to, but I prefer to play in paid advertising, email and SMS.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, your website looked like you're a more commercial client's like is it, yeah, bigger clients. It's not even mid-sized. You got some big clients in there.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and those are through the agencies and partners I work with. I mean, like I said, my website's kind of for fun for me to just throw up content when it's on fresh on my mind.

Speaker 3:

But the fact you're doing speaking arrangements too, like speaking gigs. I mean that's all part of building your brand and getting this information out there, driving traffic to your blog, your thought leadership stuff that could eventually lead to speaking gigs and people don't really think about that. But that's a decent channel for not just making money off the speaking gig, but you're speaking to an entire room of people that are in your industry. Potentially that could then go off and want to hire you for another gig, or you're actually advertising yourself, but getting paid to do it.

Speaker 2:

For sure. One of my secrets to my side hustle is things like speaking and creating that content. Like I said, that blog post makes me money because I'm driving people to go buy things that I recommend. So as a freelancer, let's say you're in marketing. If you're not in marketing, I don't care if you're teaching people how to do cross-stitch or whatever you're doing. Think of all the things that you use in your career day to day the software, the tools, the stupid little things on your desk that you might keep to say, organize whatever you're using, how can you sell it? And so when I do public speaking, yeah, usually I get paid, but I'll also entertain the idea of doing it for free If I can teach people how to specifically set something, up an email marketing tool and get all those people to sign up for that email marketing tool or for that SMS tool, because those tools will pay me commission.

Speaker 3:

So you're doing some affiliate stuff too. I have just permission.

Speaker 2:

But yeah that affiliate that ongoing reoccurring revenue.

Speaker 3:

Are you on click bank at all? Do you do any click bank stuff?

Speaker 2:

I have a click bank account. I don't do a whole lot, a lot of the tools that I can easily talk about every single day they have like direct affiliate programs, but I do have a click bank account so I do like browse and see what catches my eye.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, cause guys. That's another way to make money is to, if you know SEO, if you understand how to drive traffic to things, or if you already have a popular blog or any that kind of stuff like becoming an affiliate for products and stuff actually helps you get paid. Or if you've got your own product, go on a click bank and then hire affiliates, because I think that's one of the best ways to get advertising now, honestly, because if you're selling something like software, if you're selling a SaaS product or you're selling a actual physical product, the affiliate only gets paid when they send traffic to you and you get paid, so you really don't lose out on anything. Right? Have you done any Kajabi stuff, Ashley? Have you? Are you thinking about, have you done a course or are you?

Speaker 2:

I personally haven't done a course. I've thought about it one day, not ready, but I've helped other people build courses and sell them.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I just thought, with your personal brand and the amount of content that you seem to have, that would be a really good way to make money. And you mentioned evergreen content. When people build courses based on their expertise, that's evergreen content. That thing's sitting there on you to me or something, and every time somebody downloads it you get paid.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a it's all made to do. It's not a priority right now, but it's up there.

Speaker 3:

But that's the good thing about being a freelancer, ashley. Oh, I know, if you worked a nine to five job, you wouldn't be able to do any of this stuff Right. You wouldn't even have a to-do list. Your to-do list would be get done with work and then go home and do whatever you got to do at home and maybe watch some Netflix before you go to sleep and do it all over again the next day.

Speaker 2:

For sure.

Speaker 3:

That's terrible.

Speaker 2:

Can I share something cool that I did?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, share cool stuff, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Okay, because I think it might be helpful for freelancers, people doing a side hustle, and we kind of talked about networking. So HumbleBrag, one of my company's ice cream social, nbc Comcast, invested in our company and with that investment they put me through this like accelerator program and I got to work one-on-one with this coach who helps you basically create like your elevator pitch, and he said one of the best things I could possibly do for myself and my career of just like being able to speak on, you know, podcasts or my public speaking or sales, the best way that I could ever improve myself more than any kind of coaching is to do improv, and which sounds really scary, and I have no desire to be a comedian, nor am I funny, but I thought that was so interesting. And so I've been researching improv classes and I'm still like iffy because I still like feel like I'd get too nervous, but I found these improv classes that I just signed up for them starting. So that's what I wanted to share. I'm just excited that I started this.

Speaker 2:

So I signed up to do these improv classes, but the improv classes are built for people in business who need to learn how to be fluid and network and like think on their feet and be clever during Zoom calls, which is so much more awkward than in person. So interesting you may be cool and something people might want to check out.

Speaker 1:

You may just quit and go to Chicago, get in second city cast my wife was in second city you go back to Sierra Nile she worked with.

Speaker 3:

What's his name? Will Ferrell? No, no, no, no. Chevy Chase Soccer, john Blue Soccer, dude the coach in England soccer.

Speaker 1:

The one yeah.

Speaker 3:

You know I'm talking about the show that's popular. For God's sake, oh, ted Lasso, ted Lasso, yeah, she wore it.

Speaker 1:

She was on there, right, ted Lasso Jason.

Speaker 3:

Sudeikis, jason Sudeikis she was the second city to Jason Sudeikis, yep.

Speaker 1:

She wrote, she texted them and write tell them they've ruined the last season of it.

Speaker 3:

No, but I spent five years in a school for the credit informant arts here in Cincinnati oh wow, that just switched over. But I was in drama for six years, or, yeah, six years at SCPA. So I've done it and I would say for sure, like that is good, like being on stage, you know being in front of people, you know being put in the spotlight, I think is really really good.

Speaker 1:

Have a couple good dad jokes in your repertoire, just in case.

Speaker 2:

OK, let's hear it.

Speaker 1:

No, no, no, I don't have it.

Speaker 2:

I'm saying oh, I have a ton of.

Speaker 1:

Come on, man, I got a ton of them, but I'm saying for you, just in case you like you know, all right, this is. The scene isn't working out well, so I'm just going to use the worst joke I possibly can at this moment just completely bomb it or make it even better, Because then there's never really a sketch that's kind of like meh, it's either really really good or it's really really bad. So you have to have one for all seasons, I think.

Speaker 3:

Very true, very true. Well, kyle knows his stuff. Kyle's a, kyle's a dad, so he can, he can. He can vouch for dad jokes, working or not working sometimes. So, but actually tell us, tell us what's what's next for you. What's what do you got going on? What is your thing like? What you got the improv thing you got going on. But do you got any startups or anything else that you're working on? Because I know a lot of us freelancers. We do a lot of startup stuff too.

Speaker 2:

Well, now that you guys pulled up my website that I haven't updated in many years, I feel like my next project is to update my website. But I have a ice cream social social referral tool turn all customers into influencers for your brand. So that is a startup and we'll definitely be working a lot on that this year.

Speaker 1:

How's that working with Comcast and NBC work? Like did they? Are they coming in, allowing you just to spread your wings and do your thing? Are they say we'd like to see this, this, this and this place?

Speaker 2:

No, it's, it's actually a really great relationship. So they basically work with this company called Boomtown that creates an accelerator program, and so they make the investment in our company, put us through this accelerator program, which was about four months long, of intensive like meetings, education, things like that, and then Comcast essentially introduces us to all of their partners, so companies like WWE, the PGA Tour, nascar, golf, now all these companies we actually got to go to all these events like NASCAR, behind the scenes, pga and do all this really cool stuff and so they introduce us to all their partners in hopes of finding great use cases where they can use our products. And it's just an ongoing relationship now, where we touch base every month or so. They introduce us to new people so they work hard to bring us business, but they're not micro managing us in any way.

Speaker 1:

Well, the WWE is going to need a lot of PR help and they're going to need a lot of marketing help here. Coming up now, I guess, yeah.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, Ashley doesn't have to worry about that. She's worried about her startup and her business.

Speaker 1:

There's an opportunity there. Now Rocks the chairman. He's going to bring in smart people. That's true Free Lance with the Rock.

Speaker 2:

I did get to go to WrestleMania two years ago and it was a bucket list.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, buddy, there you go.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's awesome. He, boston, came and did a, did a a wrestle. I was going to say a skip, but it's not scripted.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, not at all, not at all. No more than roller derby was in the 90s, still real to me. Well, ashley, I really appreciate you coming on. This has been awesome. And any, any final things you want to tell people, any advice that you, you would like to give potential freelancers?

Speaker 2:

I would say there's a book that I love that has really helped me navigate my career, and I'm someone that I need everything in my life to be very fluid. I don't have strong borders between work and life. So there's this book called the desire map by a lady named Danielle LePore, and it's a book that's kind of a workbook, takes you through all these exercises. It'll take you many days to complete, but at the end of it you come out with these three to five words that she calls your core desired feelings and you learn to use these essentially core desired feelings as your filter and decision making Cause.

Speaker 2:

When you are a solo or, you know, a side hustler, decision making can get hard because you don't have people to bounce it off of or you want to take everything on because, yes, money coming in is great and you don't want to say no, but eventually you're going to figure out that you need boundaries and how do you decide what you take on? So that book has been very helpful for me. I do it every few years and that's where I came up with that kind of philosophy of freedom. Like that has been a core desired feeling for me always, every time I do the book. Usually the words evolve depending season of life.

Speaker 3:

And this is the looks like. There's two books that she wrote the desire map experience, and then there's the desire map daily and yours just desire map.

Speaker 2:

I don't know. This is what mine looks like. It's just called the desire map, a guide to creating goals with soul.

Speaker 3:

Oh, nice, okay, Maybe it's an actual like book book, is it one of those things? Like you said, there's some there's some workshopping type of stuff in that book, so maybe it wouldn't be good as a oh yeah, look at you, you got all the notes in there and everything.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I've got lots of notes. You definitely it's not a Kindle book. You need to write there's.

Speaker 3:

That's probably what it is then. Yep, it wouldn't work as an audio book. I was just looking it up on audible. Okay, well, you got the lean startup there. You got one of my favorite books, traction. If you're doing startup stuff, traction is a great book. You got some Seth Godin stuff there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

Oh, you got the whole setup. Look at you, I don't see digital melting Succeed unshakable. Look at all this. I don't see it.

Speaker 1:

Hmm, I don't see digital melting.

Speaker 3:

Oh, you don't see. He don't see your book, his book up there. Yeah, shoot, I know. Yeah, If you're ever interested in, yeah, the digitized assets, tokenized assets.

Speaker 1:

You ever need to fall asleep with 25 minutes.

Speaker 2:

It made the first thing I update, once I do, my website, I'm going to add the book.

Speaker 1:

Perfect, thank you.

Speaker 3:

Well, actually, we really appreciate you coming on. Good luck with everything. I'm excited about this. I'm glad I met another freelancer who's had the same experiences, similar experiences and I'm not the only one.

Speaker 2:

Yes, thank you guys, this was fun.

Speaker 3:

All right, ashley, thank you. Thanks for joining us on this week's episode of Side Hustle City. Well, you've heard from our guests. Now let's hear from you. Join our community on Facebook, side Hustle City. It's a group where people share ideas, share their inspirational stories and motivate each other to be successful and turn their side hustle into their main hustle. We'll see you there and we'll see you next week on the show. Thank you.

Freelance Marketing and Sales Tips
(Cont.) Freelance Marketing and Sales Tips
Building a Freelance Marketing Career
Freelancing in the Marketing Industry
Freelancing and Financial Advice
Monetizing Side Hustles and Blogging
Navigating Freelancing and Personal Growth