So far so good? Freelance life

Freelance life for me meant jumping in with both feet kind of blind folded, not that I hadn’t thought it through carefully, I had. And I did and still believe that this is the way one can work and have a career in 2016 and in the future. But like they say – if it was easy and all planned out in detail it would not be: A.Fun B.Adventurous C.Different

I wanted to give freelance living a shot as a part of my career experience because I truly believe that this is where the world is heading ,in terms of professional careers and how businesses have to operate today and tomorrow. In my private life I have many close friends that run their own businesses, they are a great inspiration. When you know you are doing something you believe in, the conclusion is simply that life is too short not to give it a 100% try.

On a personal note I can add that loving your marketing job and being a total workaholic will drive you very close to the famous wall. So before I got to close to it, I decided to combine a choice for a better lifestyle and a freelance marketing career.

The freedom is priceless.

Sure I have scheduled conf calls with clients, deadlines, and all the work that goes into client projects as well as pitching and marketing. But I still have, most of the time, freedom to get up at 6 am and work intensively until 11 am or 1 pm, then go for a run and do some reading.  Then during the evening  get back to a bit of work again. Or, I will just have a regular 9-5 office day like anyone else, or go to the beach in the morning and work full evening. Sometimes I will take a Monday off and work Saturday instead. Each week is a little different, depending on the workload, the season, and if I am travelling or not. Yes, travel. I could be sitting anywhere in the world writing this blog post or working on a marketing strategy for a client. Digital nomads are defined by the way the travel around the world whilst they are working for clients all over the world. I really wasn’t that keen on travelling around all the time, so I usually work from home or a coworking office in Ibiza where I live. Digital expat, or just plain immigrant that works online if you will.

In the workplace, we are moving towards more flexible arrangements where the individual is working with multiple companies at the same time. A lot of it is knowledge work, which can be done from anywhere. Stephane Kasriel, CEO Upwork, and co-chair of the Global Future Council on Education, Gender and Work By 2030, will we all be our own boss?

The flexibility is key

With no commute to the office & short efficient meetings on the phone or through Skype, I can work very efficiently. Take out half an hour to one hour a day for commuting, and around two- three hours per day for meetings, that is the time I am saving. Which means I can work four to five hours per day efficiently, with no breaks, and be done for the day. Or I can decide to do ten hours per day for three days and then have a some time off. Which means my work hours can be very flexible, depending on project deadlines of course. I have no boss, but the client is the boss. Clients are in different locations, and some times so am I. For the most part that is just a minor detail in the equation (translates to; the clients don’t really care where you are, as long as they can reach you on the phone or Slack, and you deliver on time). For some this way of working is a bit premature and will take some getting used to. But not to be worried, I do believe this is the path for many in the future, not just marketing consultants as myself. It is estimated that by 2020, 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be independent works – freelancers, contractors and temporary employees. Also, new platforms that pair talent and businesses, and co-working spaces around the world, is now built around this gig-economy.

The finding inspiration part

People are usually more receptive of creative thoughts when they are doing something that has nothing to do with the creative task, for example during or after a run or a nice walk, reading, driving your car etc. Inspiration can come from anywhere and there are many techniques that can help, but usually it helps to stop forcing it and do something completely different for a little while. Then you draft out a couple of ideas, and as you line out how the idea can work in a strategy it usually hits you which idea is viable and not.

I also need to keep myself up to date with all things relating to marketing and social media, which is my profession and therefore my responsibility.  I dedicate hours in my schedule every week to read up on marketing and social media news, to read blogs, find case studies and other great marketing work to learn from, search twitter for relevant content, and watch vlogs on YouTube. Everything is available on the internet, absolutely everything, e.g. I took a course in Gamification at the University of Pennsylvania online – for free (www.coursera.org). The question is not what you can learn, it is how disciplined are you?

The future

Someone told me once; it is just as important to learn to say no, as to say yes. Don’t waste your time, focus is key.

Simply put; as a marketing consultant I have decided to do mainly two things – marketing strategy & social media. For some that means developing a marketing strategy from scratch, for some it means reviewing existing marketing strategy. Some clients need a social media strategy, content plan, followed by operational tasks, and some just need some direction in what this all means for their business. Often there is also a gap between a business´marketing strategy and what/how they communicate in social media – and that usually also needs to be addressed.

This is what I do, and I love what I do. Ask anyone, I am a total geek at heart.

2015 was the foundation, and trial- and error, year (it was more like a quarter of a year to be fair), 2016 was the “yes I’m in business” year, and 2017.. let´s just say it will be VERY exciting! And as always; careful what you wish for;)

I know I am blessed and fortunate to have this life, and I am very grateful.  However, I do believe everyone is responsible to create the life they want for themselves. Which is why I can, and will, attach this “I’m just casually posing in the sunset rays, with a glass of cava, oh and a strawberry ” wishing you a very happy new year – may all your dreams come true in the new year!

¡Feliz año nuevo!

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Live Video Stars

We already know that the new generation of media consumers are not only consuming through new and/or established platforms; they are also distributing content themselves. Content that they just by instinct know will engage people, or content they want but can’t find.

Today you have your bloggers, vloggers, YouTube channels for every hobby on the planet, Instagram photographers, Instagram models, Snapchat Kings & Queens, lifestyle influencer brands that started as bloggers, and everything else under the social media sun that we now are very familiar and accustomed to. The next social media celebrities from the new generation seem to come through a less filtered version though – Live Video.

In most parts of the world we are very familiar with live video apps and services such as Periscope and Facebook Live, if we are not creators ourselves we at least seem to be paying attention to the live streams (Facebook has seen a 700% growth in video views in the last 14 months).

I personally find it fascinating that I can watch live video streams from both unknown creators and CNN within the same app. And take part in a moment on the other side of the planet, whether it be breaking news, a beautiful sunrise or the Olympics.

Even though we are just starting to embrace live video one should always keep one eye open for what´s next in how we consume live video content, and how we can utilize this tool. And who knows better how to adapt tools and make them their own more than the people of China. Of course, Periscope and Facebook Live are banned in China (together with YouTube, Google, Vimeo, Soundcloud and a long list of other tech companies), so they have innovatively enough built their own live video apps.

Apps such as Ingkee, Momo and Douyu are now the top live video apps in China in terms of number of users and their degree of innovation. Momo was initially a dating app and Douyu a gaming platform, both have now switched their focus to live video as China sees a reality TV culture emerge within the live video space. The content in the live video streams on these different apps varies from “look at me having lunch” and “watch me doing absolutely nothing” (really), to “watch me do my make up” and making conversation with their audience – basically real life or “reality TV” through a mobile lens with no filters. The live video stars also out test driving cars and promote whatever endorsement deals they have going on. The audience can of course respond and engage not only with different emoticons, but also by buying the live video stars virtual gifts bought with real money that the receiver can then take out as hard cash (50/50 split with the app owner). The gifts can be anything from virtual flowers to virtual yachts, and even though we are not talking real life amounts for each item here it is still proven to be a healthy business in addition to endorsement deals.

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“Wang Jianlin, founder of real estate colossus Dalian Wanda Group, streamed video of himself playing poker with associates on a private jet via an app backed by his son. More than 300,000 people watched, and many sent virtual gifts to China’s richest man”. Bloomberg.com

The live video sector in China is now growing at such a pace that it’s turning into a new economic sector of it’s own, which tech giants Tencent and Alibaba have also invested in. As much as “TV personality” and “blogger” now are considered careers, you can now also be a “live video star” in China.

I am very curios to see how live video will evolve the next few years. We can already follow professional news broadcasters on live video, but I would definitely like to see people involved in tourism, cooking, personal training, and real estate taking advantage of live video as soon as possible. Or why not live video Art?

 

Thanks to CNN.com, Bloomberg.com, WSJ.com and TheBeijinger.com for inspiration.