With the need for social media professionals reaching new highs, many freelance professionals like Social Media Director and Senior Copy Lead, Christina McDermott, find themselves applying to briefs that involve many different ‘hats’, as Christina shares;
Social Media can be quite a broad umbrella which takes in lots of different disciplines. Do they want a community manager or a strategist? Will I be creating the content, or is there a creative team who will do that?
Having learned to broaden her skillset and take on all types of briefs this vague approach has not stopped Christina from carving out a successful freelance career since 2017. We spoke to Christina about how she stays on top of such a fast-paced channel, what advice she would give someone considering it as a freelance career and why day rates matter.
It's not the mistake, it's the recovery. It's so easy to make mistakes, especially when you're a freelancer who isn't aware of a client's processes or ways of working. If you make a mistake, just own up to it, show them how you're going to correct it and move on. I'm not ashamed to say that I still make mistakes fairly regularly and I've been in the industry for almost ten years!
Due to the ever-evolving nature of social media it can be hard to stay on top of the latest tools and trends whilst working on projects, however this isn’t something that phases Christina;
I see upskilling as an important part of my role as the actual day-to-day work of writing copy and devising strategies.
Having stayed up with industry trends as well as running her own weekly newsletter, Christina would recommend anyone in the industry signing up to a few key resources;
I'm going to be biased here and say my newsletter! I also really value Battenhall's daily WhatsApp round-up of social media news, Social Media Today, the 'Social Minds' podcast from Social Chain (especially their 'Social in Six' episodes), the 'ICYMI' podcast by Slate which examines social media and pop culture, and Twitter! I follow lots of fellow social media/digital marketing professionals on there and it's usually where I find out things about my industry first.
Running an industry-related newsletter is a great way to invest in your business as a freelancer, as well as attract more potential clients and help fellow freelancers who are just starting out or want to learn more about your skill.
One of the best things I've done since going freelance was creating my own weekly newsletter, 'Social Lives,' which examines what it's like to work in social media. Putting that together each week means I have to keep a keen eye out for any changes in my industry, new products or new features which have been introduced to the channels I work with every day.
When it comes to reviewing briefs and deciding to accept the work, we asked Christina if there was anything she looks for in particular when reading a new brief;
It's good to check if out of hours work is required. Social Media is always-on, and it's good to build this when you're creating your campaign, especially if community management is required.
We then asked if there was something clients could do to help improve vague briefs and in turn help freelancers like Christina decide to take the project;
Be honest about day rates! There's nothing worse than getting excited about a project only to find that the day/hour rate is really low. Good social media professionals aren't cheap (and neither should they be!) Budget for us the way you would for any other digital professional.
As social media marketing is a relatively new marketing channel there can be teething problems when reporting back to a new client, particularly if they haven’t invested in their social media previously. Christina feels reporting should be handled by simplifying things;
It's really easy to bamboozle people with numbers, KPIs and metrics without explaining what they mean and why they're so important. It's not enough to say that a post worked or didn't work, you've got to break it down really simply so you can see the why. What was the purpose and who were the audience? What time of day was it pushed live? Did it have a unique call to action? Was it tied into a cultural moment? It's only by looking at all these elements that you can see the whole picture.
Being a freelancer can make it difficult to dedicate time to growing your network online, but for Social Media Director, Christina, it’s something she finds comes very naturally with the territory;
The best place to network is social media. I've made so many fantastic contacts via Twitter which have led to me working on fantastic projects. Talk to peers in your industry, follow cool people on social media and let them know you're available. And be willing to take risks! You may think that a role isn't for you because you don't have the exact experience, but it's always worth giving it a go. I've learned so much from taking on work that was outside of my comfort zone because it has meant I've had to do my own research and learn on the job.
And finally, we asked Christina how she felt on learning she’d won her category in the 2021 Freelancer Awards;
It was really unexpected! When you're a freelancer, you can sometimes feel a bit unappreciated because you don't have the same access to industry awards. It felt so incredible to be recognised for my hard work by a group of my peers. Everyone who was nominated in my category was an absolute superstar and the future of social media. There's so much great talent out there and I'm so happy that events like the YunoJuno Freelancer Awards appreciate that.
If you’d like to benefit from Christina’s social experience in your next social media campaign, why not book her today.