Episode 97: Finding Freedom Through Freelancing

Episode 97: Finding Freedom Through Freelancing

Freelancing can be very lonely, learn how you can find freedom in it


Freelancing can be very lonely, it can be frustrating, and it can be flat out hard. In this episode, Emily shares her unique approach to solving that problem by creating a community of freelancers to help one another achieve the freedom in business they truly desire.
Emily Leach is a pioneer in the world of uniquely-talented people who feel empowered to go beyond conventional jobs and create businesses from unique vantage points and perspectives.


Chris Davis: 00:24 Welcome to the Active Campaign Podcast. I’m your host Chris Davis. On this episode, I have Emily Leach, the creator of the Freelance Conference, aka FreeCon, and the advocate, she’s an educator and advocate for freelance business owners. What we talk about here is, if you are a freelancer, thinking about getting into freelance, or you’re working and you want to make a transition from working to doing more creative, more free work, this podcast, it was a joy to record because, not only does Emily have a very interesting story, she tells it very well, and her purpose to really equip freelancers with a community of others who they can collaborate and commune with. Because we all know, as freelancers, it can be very lonely, it can be frustrating, and it can just be flat out hard. It was very refreshing to hear her unique approach to solving that problem with creating this community of freelancers. She details it all and speaks about it in in high detail in this episode. So enjoy.
Chris Davis: 01:37 Emily, welcome to the podcast. How are you doing?
Emily Leach: 01:40 I am doing great. Thank you so much for being here.
Chris Davis: 01:43 Yes.
Emily Leach: 01:43 For letting me be here, sorry. Let’s start that over.
Chris Davis: 01:47 We’re both so excited. I will say, I just want to start off by telling everyone, I have a special vested interest in this podcast because Emily is an engineer and I absolutely love engineers in the marketing space. I am biased. I believe we make the best marketers, the best implementers, and the best entrepreneurs.
Emily Leach: 02:11 Alright.
Chris Davis: 02:11 With that being said, let’s talk about you, Emily. Give us a little bit about your background and your business.
Emily Leach: 02:19 Well, like you said, to be honest, also, I’m an engineering designer, I started engineering school and about two years in said, you know what, I don’t want to read anymore. So I decided to stop where I was at and took on being an engineering designer. Basically, now we call that a CAD designer, Computer Aided Drafting. I’m glad I went that way because it was a lot of fun. As I got into work and jobs and stuff like that and got to meet, I guess they call them real engineers, EITs and PEs and stuff, they were like, you know what, you did it right. You get to do all of our calculations, you get to do the drawing, the creativity and we’re over here basically going after work. We’re salesmen. I said, oh, well that worked out pretty well then.
Emily Leach: 03:06 But I did. That’s really where my freelance career even took off is, a couple of years in I decided that I didn’t want to live in … I don’t know if you’ve heard the story or not, but I was in Houston working at a great big, huge company, and I woke up one Tuesday morning and said, I don’t want to do this. I want to live in this town that has a really fun name. And so on Tuesday morning I quit my job and on Saturday morning I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Chris Davis: 03:34 Wow, that’s a big move.
Emily Leach: 03:35 Because it had a cool name.
Chris Davis: 03:37 Oh man that’s a big move.
Emily Leach: 03:39 I was also a single parent of an not quite two year old.
Chris Davis: 03:43 Wow. You had to be terrified. There’s no way you didn’t …
Emily Leach: 03:46 I was not.
Chris Davis: 03:47 You weren’t terrified? You were just that ready to go.
Emily Leach: 03:54 I was ready to go and I didn’t know that that possibly couldn’t work.
Chris Davis: 04:00 Ignorance was your bliss in this situation.
Emily Leach: 04:03 Ignorance has been … I like the word naivety a little better, but just because it has a little less stigma.
Chris Davis: 04:07 It is a little harsh. Yeah.
Emily Leach: 04:12 But it is the same in that, yes, I just, I didn’t know that it couldn’t or shouldn’t work. In my world, at that point in time, the way that my mind worked is just like, hey, this is what you want to go do you just go do it and it’s going to work. And it did. It was hard. Looking back, sometimes I look at it all and see how wonderful and romantic it kind of was. But then I … then you have the drink or whatever and the reality comes to play and it’s like it was hard.
Chris Davis: 04:43 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 04:43 I don’t know that I would suggest necessarily to everyone to do it. It definitely takes a certain ability to take on risk and to navigate risk and be okay with not having anything and it even feeling like, some days, that you didn’t even have an opportunity ahead of you so that you have to dig.
Chris Davis: 05:11 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 05:11 Basically, what I ended up doing is I started calling engineering companies because I knew that I did engineering design and so I knew where I needed to work, and it turns out that I just happen to know a platform, a CAD platform, that was new to the market. Of course I didn’t realize that because it was the only one I knew. And the state of New Mexico, New Mexico Department of Transportation, the DOE and DOD, which are huge in New Mexico because of Kirkland Air Force Base and Sandia National Labs, they had all switched to this platform. And if you didn’t have a designer in your engineering company that ran that platform, you didn’t get contracts.
Chris Davis: 05:54 Wow.
Emily Leach: 05:54 I didn’t know that.
Chris Davis: 05:55 Oh my goodness.
Emily Leach: 05:56 So I was gold.
Chris Davis: 05:59 You were gold, untarnished gold. Wow.
Emily Leach: 06:01 I know. I didn’t even know that … I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Chris Davis: 06:05 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 06:07 I started working in engineering companies and then that helped me migrate through. I did that for about, I don’t know, seven or eight years. Then the platform-
Chris Davis: 06:16 Now, were you doing that as a consultant or …?
Emily Leach: 06:18 Yeah.
Chris Davis: 06:18 Wow.
Emily Leach: 06:19 Because most of these companies didn’t have enough work, especially at that time, to hire on someone full time. I ended up working with a couple of different companies so that they could put their stamp on the ground and say yes. And if you want to see her, she’s … I’d come in and I’d sit in their little office.
Chris Davis: 06:35 Wow.
Emily Leach: 06:38 That was it. We didn’t call it freelancing, we didn’t call it anything other than I go into your office and use your fancy expensive machine.
Emily Leach: 06:47 Let me see, I think it was about three years in that the, Intergraph, is what it was called, now it’s called Bentley, and it started … it went to a client site, which if you don’t know what that means, it means you can use it on PC versus having to have this huge dedicated machine, so I bought my first computer and it was $8,000.
Chris Davis: 07:08 Oh my gosh. $8,000.
Emily Leach: 07:11 Yeah. $8,000. I went and had to special order a 17 inch monitor because … and the people were like, there’s … no one needs a 17 inch monitor, what do you? And I was like, but I do. And I had eight, I think it was eight megs of RAM, and they were also, nobody needs eight megs of RAM.
Chris Davis: 07:31 Oh my gosh.
Emily Leach: 07:31 I was like, well I do. So, $8,000 later. That was my first machine that I bought that I started … basically launched my business from, and so that I could do work from a home office.
Chris Davis: 07:43 Wow. Wow. That is …Emily, that is amazing. Oh my goodness. What was that transition for you after you had … I have … first off, I have so many questions.
Emily Leach: 07:55 Okay.
Chris Davis: 07:57 I will proceed with the podcast.
Emily Leach: 07:59 Alright.
Chris Davis: 08:00 What was that point where you were doing it for these companies that you wanted to make the shift and say, okay, I think I’m done with this chapter, on to the next?
Emily Leach: 08:11 As far as what I was doing as a freelance business owner or …?
Chris Davis: 08:15 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 08:15 Well, you know what, I didn’t think of it that way for still quite a while longer.
Chris Davis: 08:21 Okay.
Emily Leach: 08:21 Another four or five years passes and the platform then begins to move to server side, meaning that all of the platform sits on the server and it gets … you use it, just like we do now. Almost the way everything works now. The network people in the companies that I was working with, it was new, all we had used servers for at that time was to serve files and to connect you to printers. Putting a software program on the server wasn’t as easy as it is now. Now that’s assumption.
Chris Davis: 08:53 Right.
Emily Leach: 08:54 I just began dive into what the servers did because I understood my program inside and out, and they did not. In this particular case, it just turned out easier for me to learn the network side and then help them through that process of let’s install it on the server and see what happens. Let’s find one over here on the corner, so if we blow it up we don’t hurt anything.
Chris Davis: 09:16 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 09:17 Then I’m going to connect my computer to it, let them start talking and then have it talk to theplotter, and then … We just kind of figured it out. That migrated me into network administration.
Emily Leach: 09:28 I began going to engineering companies and transitioning their Intergraph Bentley over to the server side.
Chris Davis: 09:35 I see the progression.
Emily Leach: 09:36 Yeah.
Chris Davis: 09:37 As you’re talking. You’re just learning and leveraging your learning as you go and grow.
Emily Leach: 09:43 Yes. Exactly.
Chris Davis: 09:44 Wow.
Emily Leach: 09:46 In this particular case, maybe because I have that engineering background, that I learned the more technical side of it. Whereas, if maybe I was more artistic in nature I would have went down that road. It doesn’t … neither road was right or wrong, it’s just the route that I took and people look at as like, how did those things match up? It’s like, well they just do.
Emily Leach: 10:09 So I did that for a few years and then, because now I’d really learned the network side and the server side, I was kind of getting tired of engineering and I got an opportunity to do a network install at a hospital and they needed somebody that understood computers and so I was like, alright. I went in as a kind of a hand, if you will, and within about three or four months I was setting up their exchange server. I was doing their SNA server. I was doing … I learned all six of the Microsoft servers and I just sat there overnight with the discs and just plopped them in and installed until I could get it to install right. It took me all night, but I taught myself. Then I did a couple of other installs, did some MIS direction stuff and I ended back up in Albuquerque.
Emily Leach: 10:57 I kind of traveled all over the west, Montana and Washington and Colorado, Arizona, and then I ended up back up in Albuquerque because, again, I still love the city and I worked at a furniture store. About a year in to doing that I kind of did the same thing. I went in and changed over … got them completely often Novell, onto Microsoft, and replaced all their Microsoft Nodes. Their sales manager quit. So they were like, well, you know … Internet Sales Manager, and they said, you know how to run a computer, why don’t you take over their Internet Sales Department? I was like, alright. I don’t think I know what I’m doing, but okay, we’ll do that. So I hired on a web designer and she ended up being an SEO person as well, which, back then we didn’t call it SEO even. Her and I just kind of worked our way through it and learned how to do search engine optimization, which was super easy back then.
Chris Davis: 11:52 Yeah, right. right.
Emily Leach: 11:53 We rebuilt the website. It was a 2,500 page static website.
Chris Davis: 11:57 Oh my gosh. 2,500 pages. God.
Emily Leach: 12:00 It was really when … database sites were just barely starting to come on the scene, and we didn’t know how to do that, so we kept it static, but we gave everything a really new look and we found some different holes that the company hadn’t reached out to. We had the company making $250,000 a month on just the Internet side, selling furniture.
Chris Davis: 12:28 Wow.
Emily Leach: 12:29 In less than 90 days.
Chris Davis: 12:30 Wow. Amazing. I love it. I love … It sounds like, if I wouldn’t have heard your story beforehand and someone offer you this position, I’d have been like, oh my gosh, Emily, what did you do? But, as you’re telling, I was like, of course she took it, there’s no fear. She’s looked risk in the face and has survived, and risk is on the floor injured.
Emily Leach: 12:54 Yeah. I still … that was probably the first time I began to start looking at this as, hey, this is a business, this is something that I do. So I made my goal of $250,000 a month and I didn’t get my bonuscheck, so I quit. That was a real job, a j-o-b. So I quit and I started a company doing website design and search engine optimization and I learned how to do networking. I jumped out and went to an BNI group, I’m sure you’ve heard of BNI.
Chris Davis: 13:26 Yeah. Yeah.
Emily Leach: 13:26 And figured out how to make a business. My son was going into being a teenager. It really worked out quite well that I was able to be home and be around and help him through those years. It’s interesting now to see him as an adult, because he’ll be 29 here in a couple of weeks.
Chris Davis: 13:45 Oh wow.
Emily Leach: 13:45 Actually, two weeks from today, and to watch him use those lessons in his life.
Chris Davis: 13:52 Yeah, because he had a front row seat to it all.
Emily Leach: 13:54 Yeah.
Chris Davis: 13:54 It’s in him whether he chose it intentionally or not, it just became part of his reality, just seeing mom do that.
Emily Leach: 14:02 It really did.
Chris Davis: 14:02 Wow. Alright. Fast forward us now, we’ve got FreeCon. I’ll let you describe and explain what that is. Where are you at now? What are you doing?
Emily Leach: 14:13 Well, I did the search engine optimization stuff for 13, almost 15 years, and moved back home to Austin, or Texas is home, anyway, made Austin my home, and I started this group here in town called Austin Freelance Gigs. It’s on Facebook.
Chris Davis: 14:29 Okay.
Emily Leach: 14:31 It was just a group, a friend of mine asked me to start it up and it was, in my mind, it was just a group where people that had a freelance business could come in and introduce themselves. I do web design. I do graphic design. I write. Whatever we do. It’s all the kind of fun stuff. And the people that we’re looking for those services could then post, hey, I need a copywriter for this. I need a website for this. It was really kind of fun to watch. About six months in, it grew so fast, we had 600 or 700 people in it, at six months in, and with really no marketing because it wasn’t a money maker thing, it was just something that was community. It was fun to do.
Chris Davis: 15:09 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 15:11 I was like, man, this would be really fun to do in person, just to hang out. Conversations started being brought up in there, kind of being vulnerable, because we made it super safe. Nobody’s allowed to pitch to each other. Nobody’s allowed to sell anything. We’re not trying to get you to buy anything, go anywhere, do anything, other than get business. And if you did any of those things, you just got deleted. It was pretty simple. People felt safe enough to ask questions and be vulnerable about this. And it turns out that running a freelance business is kind of hard.
Chris Davis: 15:45 Yes. Yes.
Emily Leach: 15:47 It wasn’t just kinda hard for me, it was kind of hard for everybody. I was like, oh, wait a minute, I’m … Because I think everybody kind of sits in their home office and thinks this is just hard for me. Everybody else has got it.
Chris Davis: 15:57 Yep. Yep.
Emily Leach: 15:58 And I don’t want to look like the one person in the world that’s having trouble running a freelance business.
Chris Davis: 16:03 Yeah. Yeah. So this was, it was on Facebook, this group?
Emily Leach: 16:08 It’s still on Facebook.
Chris Davis: 16:08 It’s still on …
Emily Leach: 16:09 We have 8,700 people in there today.
Chris Davis: 16:11 Wow. And the engagement happens in … I hope … what I was excited about this was, I know we have a ton of freelancers that use our software.
Emily Leach: 16:21 Awesome.
Chris Davis: 16:21 We’ve got probably even more aspiring freelancers. What people don’t realize, if you’ve never done freelancing, it is extremely lonely. Like-
Emily Leach: 16:32 It can be.
Chris Davis: 16:32 Oh my goodness. If you don’t intentionally go out to those networking events, go out to those speaking engagements and conferences, you can really find yourself to where you have specialized so much in doing one thing for people that you forgot about people. It’s just like, oh yeah, human interaction.
Emily Leach: 16:54 Yeah. And depression tends to sneak in. Then, the other thing that I see is, you’re not staying on top of the latest and greatest things because, even if all you do is go to local networking events and hang out with people that you even kind of just know, because maybe that’s your comfort space, a lot of people say, no, don’t do that, it’s wrong. It’s not wrong or right, it’s what you’re going to do. There’s still conversations that happen in there and you learn little tidbits by going and doing that. If nothing else, you at least get out of your home office and you engage. Like you’re saying.
Chris Davis: 17:34 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 17:35 Yeah, it can be very lonely and it can actually be, I think, detrimental if you stay at home by yourself all the time.
Chris Davis: 17:42 Yeah. I love just the idea of using technology to create that knowledge and experience share. Right?
Emily Leach: 17:52 Yeah.
Chris Davis: 17:52 Now, I may be in my home office and maybe I’ll just post something like, oh, having a rough day. And now it’s like 10 other people are like, oh my gosh, me too, and maybe it’s that time of the year … And all of a sudden now, even though I don’t know you, I haven’t met you in person, but I feel some form of resolve like, okay, okay, it can be alright.
Emily Leach: 18:16 Exactly.
Chris Davis: 18:17 It’s just a moment, it’s just a day. Wow. What has that evolved into? You have the group, people are interacting, it’s growing like crazy. What was the unanticipated growth that you experienced?
Emily Leach: 18:30 Well, it was that … It was July 13th when I decided that, man, I’d love to do this in person. I want to have these conversations. Because the other things that happened … I don’t think it happens as much, but it still happens a lot, where the solopreneur, the single-person, freelance, or whatever name you want to put on it is told by family and friends to go get a real job. When are you going to get a real job?
Chris Davis: 18:52 Yep.
Emily Leach: 18:52 I wanted to be in a group of people where nobody was telling me to get a real job. They understood what my plight was, so on and so forth. I had already started, or help start, two different TEDX events, one being one of the largest in America at the time. So I was like, I can do this, let’s just do it. Because it didn’t exist. I went and looked for a conference for freelance business owners.
Chris Davis: 19:12 Yup. Yup.
Emily Leach: 19:13 Now there’s a bunch of industry conferences, but that’s not what I was looking for.
Chris Davis: 19:16 Yes. Yes.
Emily Leach: 19:18 I wanted my industry to be the fact that I was a freelance business owner.
Chris Davis: 19:23 Yes. Yes.
Emily Leach: 19:23 I went to GoDaddy and I found a domain, and Freelance Conference seemed like as good a domain as any.
Chris Davis: 19:29 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 19:29 And 100 days later we had our first event.
Chris Davis: 19:32 Wow. Wow.
Emily Leach: 19:34 And here we are four years later.
Chris Davis: 19:35 What was … because it’s always interesting with the first event that you run. I feel like there’s always this moment where you sit back and you look and you’re just like, wow. What was that moment for you?
Emily Leach: 19:50 It was that they actually showed up.
Chris Davis: 19:51 That they showed up.
Emily Leach: 19:57 We had 92 people at our first event.
Chris Davis: 19:59 Wow.
Emily Leach: 20:01 I was pretty excited about that.
Chris Davis: 20:03 That is a great turn out.
Emily Leach: 20:05 Interestingly enough, we charged $92 that year and we had 92 people show up. I don’t know what that was about, but I’ll take it.
Chris Davis: 20:12 I’ll take it.
Emily Leach: 20:13 I found a space and I didn’t really, at that point, I didn’t really know a lot of people in Austin and it was really thanks to the group that I was able to get out to people and people were like, hey, what is this thing? And who is this person? And what is she doing on our lawn?
Chris Davis: 20:28 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 20:28 It was like, okay, well, maybe she’s okay.
Emily Leach: 20:33 Then from there other things began to happen and I really just got to the point where everything I was doing was to help freelance business owners, some way or another. Help them learn how to start business or build a better freelance business. Me and a group of other people came together and started the Texas Freelance Association. It was a nonprofit that … we’re still out there. Then, of course, I stepped down from that after a couple of years and really just dove completely into the Freelance Conference. I felt like it had so much opportunity.
Chris Davis: 21:09 Yeah, that’s big. You doubled down, and four years later it’s proven. It’s like, hey, good job Emily, I’m glad you focused on me. I told you I could grow up and be something
Emily Leach: 21:20 This year we have our first other cities … Corpus Christie is doing a Freelance Conference, and they’re just about three hours down the road.
Chris Davis: 21:27 Okay.
Emily Leach: 21:28 They’re having a Freelance Conference, a two day one, November 1st and 2nd. The goal for 2019 is to build this out into other cities.
Chris Davis: 21:35 Beautiful. It’s definitely needed. It goes without saying that the way that business is going, how technology has really transformed the small business landscape and enabled and empowered entrepreneurs at a level that has been unseen ever in history, that the common practice is to get freelancers to help you. Nobody is starting a business now thinking, okay, I need to hire 10 people. It’s like, no, I need to need to hurry up and find a web developer, I need to find a designer.
Emily Leach: 22:08 Actually, it’s the exact opposite. It is, how do we run this without having to hire people?
Chris Davis: 22:14 Exactly. Exactly. And it’s so crazy because that was the standard years ago. When I was coming up, there was no such thing as a business without employees. What do you …
Emily Leach: 22:23 Exactly.
Chris Davis: 22:23 You would be laughed at. So now, it is definitely the land for freelancers to thrive. And without communities and events and people like yourself, it would just be a lot harder. It would just be a lot harder. I know that you’ve been using Active Campaign for a little bit. Are you using it solely to operate the conference now?
Emily Leach: 22:48 Yeah.
Chris Davis: 22:49 The managing of the contacts and the community and everything?
Emily Leach: 22:51 Absolutely.
Chris Davis: 22:52 Yep.
Emily Leach: 22:53 Yes. Yeah, I’ve loved how … it’s taught me a lot about, not just the email marketing side of it. We’ve talked about some other platforms and stuff when we got on board, but what I loved about using Active Campaign … I’m not trying to make this a sales pitch, but it’s probably going to sound like one anyway, is that your team really got on board with me and helped me go through and say here’s how the platform works. Then it made me begin to reverse engineer and look at how I was pulling in the email addresses, my contacts, and what does that mean? Okay, well I want to know who went to the conference in 2014, who went in 2015, who went in the different years, and I could do all that, either with different list or tagging, and which way is best.
Chris Davis: 23:45 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 23:46 Then, how do you connect back with them and then being able to go in … Because the question comes up a lot now, as I start to work with more sponsors is, what is your open rate? What is your click rate? And those … and granted, probably everybody has that in their platforms, but yours is so easy to see, that I actually can tell somebody, at a moment’s notice, my average is 38.7%.
Chris Davis: 24:07 Yeah. Yeah. I love it. I love it. And of course, we caught up before the podcast … we’ll keep that off air. We got the joke about some of the other experiences and limited capabilities. I guess one of the things I do want to ask you is, that we did talk about beforehand, was the challenge of teaching freelancers marketing. Can you talk about that a bit?
Emily Leach: 24:36 Yeah, well, it’s like you said, anybody that’s read The E Myth knows exactly what we’re about to talk about. Is that, as a freelance business owner, 99% of the time, I think, you have a skill, you have a craft, and you’re really good at it. That’s why we need you in the market is because you are specialized in the expertise in a craft. You’ve probably even niched that craft. There’s one woman that’s … she’s coming again this year to the conference to talk, and I love this example, is, she does graphic design and she has defined, over her period of time, that she not only loves to work with, but is really good at, working with public speakers. That’s her niche in graphic design. I love when a freelance expert can go into that niche for themselves and then really build it out. She got it.
Emily Leach: 25:31 What that means is that, for the majority of us, we don’t really understand the business side of it. Marketing is one part of the business side. Accounting usually comes up first. It’s like, I don’t know how. I don’t want to know how. I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I personally believe that you should probably learn at least the basics before you hire someone. But that’s my own personal belief.
Chris Davis: 25:49 Yep.
Emily Leach: 25:50 Then, the marketing side of it is, why do I need an email? Speaking from Active Campaign, why do we need an email list? What am I do with it? What am I going to tell them? I try to go through the process with them of talking about how, you’re the expert in this. What questions do you get? Another advantage of going to networking events. What do people ask you about? When you tell them you’re a web designer, graphic designer, whatever your thing is, start documenting in your head, or shoot, take out a piece of paper, I don’t care, and write down, what are those questions.
Chris Davis: 26:22 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 26:23 And guess what, that’s the question you answer in your email campaign.
Chris Davis: 26:27 Yeah, it’s really amazing. It’s kind of that … I think it’s recency bias, is the official term for it. It’s like when you buy a red car and then you’re like, everybody has a red car.
Emily Leach: 26:37 Yes.
Chris Davis: 26:39 It’s the same dynamic. When you start looking … I think it was a Chinese proverb that says, when the student is ready, the teacher will arrive.
Emily Leach: 26:46 That’s it, yeah.
Chris Davis: 26:47 It’s, when you start looking for opportunities to really capture content, in any form, you realize it’s all around you. You’re talking to people and they’re asking you what you’re doing and you have a conversation and you’re present enough to realize, wait a minute, that not only could be an email, I could write a blog post on that.
Emily Leach: 27:08 Right.
Chris Davis: 27:08 But I think people just don’t let themselves use everything, as content, to explain and further educate.
Emily Leach: 27:17 That’s true.
Chris Davis: 27:18 On exactly what it is, the message that they want to send out in the proposition.
Emily Leach: 27:24 Well, in the beginning of marketing can fill really, really overwhelming … the creating of the content. So imagine you’re sitting here at your home office and you realize this morning that you need to start marketing, okay, well that means I need to start having some blog posts. Well I’ll send out that first blog post, they’re going to go to my blog and I have one blog post. Okay. Then really I need to probably build about five or 10 blog posts. Oh man, who has time to write five or 10 blog … that’s what starts to happen. It’s like, oh, then I need to send an email campaign. Well, I’m going to send out that email campaign and I have one email. Now I need ten emails. I see where and how it gets really, really overwhelming.
Chris Davis: 28:03 Really quick.
Emily Leach: 28:04 Where as, I wish I could interact with more freelance business owners and help them understand that, just because you wrote the first blog post doesn’t mean you have to tell everybody about it yet. Maybe you just write one a week for the next 10 weeks because, if you haven’t been marketing now, then I’m not sure that waiting 10 weeks is going to make that big of a deal as far as that particular piece.
Chris Davis: 28:27 Yeah. Right.
Emily Leach: 28:28 Go start, take all the content that you have in your head and maybe grab a white board. And look at mine, mine are in front of me.
Chris Davis: 28:34 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 28:34 Which does nothing for you I guess. Every time you get a phone call, or you’re on Facebook, and you see somebody ask a question, even if they didn’t ask it of you, go to LinkedIn, find the places where people are looking for information about what you do.
Chris Davis: 28:48 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 28:49 And then understand what they’re asking and how to best answer it. I mean, what are they really asking? And then, try to go the level below what they’re asking because they’re asking the symptom. Just like when we all go to the doctor.
Chris Davis: 29:07 Yep.
Emily Leach: 29:07 We’re going to get our symptoms solved. What’s going on below the symptom? And you be the person that’s solving the problem that removes the symptom, and then talk about that.
Chris Davis: 29:20 Yup. Yeah, you gotta be willing to think critically. Get beneath the surface and see, okay, I know this is what they’re saying, but this is what they’re really experiencing and what they … and you can test it. You can test it on other people, or you could test it on them and say, hey, are you experiencing a symptom? And then you can prescribe … you can literally talk about your solution. And if it resonates strongly, you’re like, okay, I think I’m onto something.
Chris Davis: 29:47 It’s funny Emily, I find that you have no issue using live people, live conversations, for marketing research.
Emily Leach: 29:56 I do not.
Chris Davis: 29:56 I do it all the time.
Emily Leach: 29:57 I prefer them.
Chris Davis: 29:58 I do it all the time, but it’s one of those things you just don’t hear about, talked about, a whole lot. Everybody’s, hey, run ads. Hey, start a Facebook group, this that … but we can never minimize and forget what’s natural to humans. And that’s this, talking and taking note. Don’t be robotic and don’t have an agenda. Especially at the network. Let it be natural and organic, but still take note.
Emily Leach: 30:26 I want to talk to that because, having a relatively natural engineering, a linear type mind, if you will, I’ve understood … I’ve learned over the years that I also have a very creative side, so maybe I’m one of the unicorns, I’m not completely sure yet, but, having such a linear mindset in the way that I look at things has actually made it quite difficult to get to the point that I’m at now because, when I write … that’s why I actually don’t have many blog posts written out there is because for so many years when I wrote, I could have a really fun conversation like this, with you, and then I could go and write notes to it and it’s going to look like a white paper. You know?
Chris Davis: 31:08 Right.
Emily Leach: 31:09 Even the formatting. People are going, what the hell is this?
Chris Davis: 31:13 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 31:14 This isn’t what we talked about. I mean it is, but where did you go? Who wrote this?
Chris Davis: 31:19 Why does it look so different?
Emily Leach: 31:20 I’m like, I wrote it. I wrote it. And I actually remember my first attempt at an email campaign. What year was it? It was 2006, I think, and I was starting up the Search Engine Academy. I was going to teach SEO. And I did, I actually did it quite well. But anyway, I was putting on my first free class, and I was like, it’s free, everybody’s going to signup for this because it’s free. And it was like 90 minutes long. So I wrote my email and it was … I wish now I still had the content because I wish I could read it right now. And of course it was very bullet pointed and it was very engineering oriented and nobody signed up.
Chris Davis: 31:57 Wow.
Emily Leach: 31:58 I talked to a couple of my friends. I was like, what’s wrong? I was like, everybody wants this, everybody needs it, blah, blah, blah. And they’re like going, have you read your copy? I went, yeah. Okay, well you’re not the one attending so put some of these words in there, but some of this word … I had to begin to learn, relearn, how to write and how to allow my personality to come out.
Emily Leach: 32:22 I’m aware that, we can have these conversations like, oh, like for marketing, all you gotta do is … I still believe that we got to teach everyone to understand who they are.
Chris Davis: 32:33 Yep.
Emily Leach: 32:33 And your strengths and weaknesses, and if it isn’t your strength to take live content and make it into something, it isn’t your strength to speak publicly, if those aren’t your strengths, but that’s what needs to happen, there’s always a third option.
Chris Davis: 32:50 Yep.
Emily Leach: 32:51 Find it.
Chris Davis: 32:51 Yep. Find it.
Emily Leach: 32:53 Maybe it’s you have to learn to do that.
Chris Davis: 32:55 Yep.
Emily Leach: 32:55 Or maybe it’s you go find a partner and they’re good at that and you do the behind the scenes work. There’s always that third option, so look for it.
Chris Davis: 33:07 There’s no excuse. There really isn’t. If you can’t do it, someone else can. If you’re not willing, someone else is. And it’s just you coming to that result. Just staying true, like you said, to yourself, you said, look … listen, I get it, I’ve watched so many videos, taken so many courses, I understand the power of writing words that people enjoy reading. I will never be that person.
Emily Leach: 33:30 I will not either.
Chris Davis: 33:31 So let me go and find someone who could write pleasing words to the mind and the ears so that I can go to the next … get the next step in my business complete. And that’s what we signed … and if anything, for freelancers and small business owners, alike. When you say, I’m starting a business, what you’re saying is, I am deciding and committing to be whoever I need to be to make this succeed. If I can’t be them, I will go find them, but there will be nothing that stops me. That’s all I hear when someone says, I’m starting a business.
Emily Leach: 34:10 Okay.
Chris Davis: 34:11 And if, behind that statement, none of that shows through, in my head, I’m just like, oh, you won’t make it. The sands of time, I’ve turned them over and it’s a matter of time before you either go back to your job or you’re coming back to me frustrated.
Emily Leach: 34:27 I can see that I guess. I can’t say that I hear that when I hear someone do it. I usually get pretty excited for them.
Chris Davis: 34:33 Yep. I used to.
Emily Leach: 34:34 What I hear is, hey, I’ve chosen freedom, and I’ve chosen to do something on my own and I’m worthy of doing it. Now, like you said, whether all that comes to fruition and shines through is another … because it does, it gets hard.
Chris Davis: 34:48 Yep. Yep.
Emily Leach: 34:48 And you do want to quit. And I tell people that, you know what, it’s okay if you quit, doesn’t mean you can’t do it again.
Chris Davis: 34:55 That’s true. That’s true.
Emily Leach: 34:55 But it doesn’t necessarily mean absolute failure either. It just means that maybe you weren’t ready.
Chris Davis: 35:00 Yeah.
Emily Leach: 35:00 It means that maybe you’re under-funded, or you had some skills you still needed to learn.
Chris Davis: 35:06 Yep.
Emily Leach: 35:07 All of those are okay.
Chris Davis: 35:08 It’s fine. Yup. Yup. Well, Emily, this has been great. Absolutely a amazing time with you. If people want to find out more about you and your business, where can they go?
Emily Leach: 35:21 You know what, I really like to just send people to the Freelance Conference, so it’s www.freelanceconference.com. If they do want to know about me specifically, it’s Emily Leach, L-e-a-c-h, emilyleach.com.
Chris Davis: 35:34 Alright, well great. All of those links will be in the show notes of course.
Emily Leach: 35:37 Okay.
Chris Davis: 35:37 Activecampaign.com/podcast. And Emily, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Emily Leach: 35:43 No, thank you.
Chris Davis: 35:44 Thank you for coming on, spending some time with us on the podcast, it’s greatly appreciated.
Emily Leach: 35:49 Thank you so much for having me.
Chris Davis: 35:50 Yep, no problem. I’ll see you online.
Emily Leach: 35:52 Okay.
Chris Davis: 35:55 Thank you for listening to this episode of the Active Campaign Podcast. If you’re a freelancer, I hope you feel empowered knowing that there is a community of people that understand exactly what you’re going through. If it’s been a bit overwhelming for you, you know that that’s part of the journey and don’t go at it alone. You have conferences and communities, like the Freelance Conference, that you can easily connect and engage with other people to help along the journey. I think one of the biggest things that Emily said in the podcast was, it’s okay to quit.
Chris Davis: 36:32 A lot of times we look at quitting and it’s just such a negative connotation to it, but, if you’re quitting something that’s just not working, not because you haven’t tried, or not because you haven’t put forth effort, if you’re quitting something that just is not working for you, that shows a strength and not a weakness. That shows that you’re aware, that you know what, I was willing to give this a go, it didn’t work. My only thing, along with that, is that you don’t give up. It’s okay to quit. Just don’t give up. Try something else. See how you can leverage the learnings of the past for future success, as Emily has done and explained so well on the podcast.
Chris Davis: 37:11 Speaking of podcast, listen, if this is your first time listening, please know that this is a personal invitation from me to you to join the family of listeners that are dedicated to learning about small business success by listening to this podcast. So please, go and subscribe. We’re in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, SoundCloud. Wherever you subscribe to podcasts, we are there. I want you to make sure that you do not miss another episode ever. We’ll be dropping episodes every week, just like this, so if you found value here, there’s more where that came from.
Chris Davis: 37:50 If you’re new to Active Campaign, when you heard about it, haven’t heard about it, either way, you’re having troubles getting started or just don’t know what the next steps will be, we’ve got a success team. These are human beings that are ready and willing to take your call and walk you through the platform specific to your business need. You can sign up for a complimentary one on one at activecampaign.com/training. And if you want to use the more hands off self guided approach we have an education center dedicated for you. You can go there, learn about guides, podcasts, courses, manuals, videos, webinars, whatever content you prefer to consume, at the rate and schedule in which you prefer to consume it. It’s all at education.com/learn. All of the information is ready, right now, for you to go enjoy and consume and grow, grow and succeed. This is the Active Campaign Podcast, the small business podcast to help you scale and propel your business with automation. I’ll see you on the next episode.

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