Career Growth

Transitions: Food Magazine Owner to Six-Figure Freelance Consultant

Claire Beveridge
April 20, 2023

This is the third story in our new guest post series on career transitions in content marketing! This series will include insights and advice from experts in the field to help guide others who want to change their career path in content. You can read the first and second transitions posts for more career inspiration.

If you'd like to submit your story, you can check out the guidelines here.

What was your first experience working in content?

I founded and launched a digital food magazine for Brighton, England—purely by accident! 

Flashback to 2010. Instagram wasn’t even a thing yet, and the only Tik Tok everyone knew was by Kesha. I had just graduated university with an undergrad in film and landed a role working in ops for Apple. I’d always been interested in technology and computers, but my main passion was writing and being creative.

My day job involved filling in spreadsheets and managing stock, which was very methodical but mundane. So a friend suggested I start a blog as an outlet for my creativity and to practice my writing skills. 

I’ve always had more than a keen interest in food and love going out to restaurants, so I decided to write about my experiences of dining out in Brighton. For about a year, I wrote a post whenever I went somewhere to eat and spent whatever spare time I had teaching myself marketing.

Then the whole thing blew up. 

Turns out, people dug my writing style and what I was doing. So I took a gamble, went part-time at my day job, and relaunched the blog as a full-blown website about the city’s food and restaurant scene. It was called Places I Eat. 

I created and ran social channels, developed partnerships with local restaurants, managed the content strategy and a team of writers, ran paid ads on Facebook, reported on local food news, interviewed world-famous chefs, went to launch parties and after-hours events, wrote a column about Brighton’s food scene for an upcoming newspaper, and ate and drank my way across the city for free.

Looking back, I can’t believe I pulled it off! But Places will always hold a special place in my heart, and I learned so much in such a short period of time — mainly from saying yes to things and then figuring it all out later.

But after four years of grinding away, I felt the excitement I once had for the business fading, and I started to miss going out for dinner and not having to critique what I was eating. So I started applying for in-house marketing roles in the city, using the website’s success to prove I knew what I was doing.

Before long, I was snapped up by Crunch, the UK’s leading SaaS accounting company, and I started my first in-house role in 2015 as a content producer, creating blog posts, guides, whitepapers, PR articles, and video content.

What do you do today? What's your job title?

Fast forward to 2023, and I’m a freelance content marketing consultant who works with software and technology companies in North America and Europe. 

I offer a few different services, including content strategy, content writing, blog management, editing, keyword research and optimization, along with consulting startups on marketing strategies and growth initiatives. 

What's the single biggest career jump you've made? 

Oh, without a doubt transitioning from in-house to freelance was the biggest career jump. The move from IC to manager is certainly a challenge, but going it alone and setting up your own business where you’re solely responsible for your success is an entirely different beast.

What skills did you need to develop? Which skills from your previous position helped you in your new one?

I was fortunate to work in content management for two bustling Vancouver agencies: Quietly and Method and Metric. Both experiences taught me a lot about managing client relationships, the importance of a solid SOW, and how to be operationally savvy and lean while giving me a deeper understanding of the creative process.

My previous role as an in-house content manager for a software startup taught me the importance of working with companies that have product-market fit, prioritize content as a marketing channel, and have alignment between SEO and content teams. Otherwise, it’ll be challenging to drive results from your content strategy.

In terms of new skills, the most challenging part while transitioning was time management. It took a good six months to fully let go of the Monday to Friday 9-5 mentality. I realized that creativity and inspiration completely falter if I spend all day, every day, in front of a computer. 

Now I work when I’m most productive, usually 8 am to 2 pm, and I rarely work more than three days in a row. I usually log in on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and then do a few hours Friday and Saturday mornings. 

My week seldom exceeds 30 hours, I take around 8 weeks of vacation a year and bill $10,000 monthly on average. I think sharing information about freelance income is important — especially as it opens up conversations that help ensure people who are typically underpaid (women, BIPOC, disabled folks, LGBTQ2+ community, etc) get paid their worth.

I don’t have my work email or Slack on my phone, which helps create a clear work/life balance, and I’m pretty good at setting firm boundaries with clients about when I’m available and when I’m not. It’s all worked out pretty well so far, and I’m very happy, which is the most important thing. 

What habits helped you thrive in this transition?

I will hold my hands up and say I am one of those people who gets a real buzz out of organizing. I think being naturally thrilled at the prospect of making a list means that project management is a doddle, and I’m not phased by juggling multiple assignments with various deadlines and scopes. 

Having previous agency experience meant I was used to tracking my time, which became habitual as I shifted to start my own business. I love knowing how many hours I spend on a project, and it helps prevent scope creep. Also, it’s easy to spend time toiling away when you WFH without a definitive start and end, so tracking my time means I can see exactly how many hours I work in a week or month.

Running your own small business is stressful at times, and if I don’t regularly practice yoga or exercise, I can feel my sanity slowly slipping away. But thankfully, being freelance means you can log off when you need to and do whatever it takes to feel good again. For me, that’s a long stretch on the yoga mat, a furious bike ride around Vancouver’s Stanley Park, or a long walk along the beach or in a nearby forest. 

Have you had a career mentor or coach? If so, how did you find them, and what have you learned from them?

I spent eighteen months working with Jon Norris at Crunch and feel very lucky for that experience. He’s incredibly smart and supportive and showed me what exceptional leadership looks like. He was instrumental in helping me navigate challenging work experiences and has repeatedly given me sound advice throughout my career. I’m so grateful he took a chance on me after Places I Eat, and we’re still good friends to this day. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a career pivot like you did? 

If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, unchallenged, or unhappy at work and have a skillset that means you can go freelance — do it! What have you got to lose? Look at the big picture. Life is way too short to work for a shitty boss or resent your commute. If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back in-house. You’ll likely be surprised at how fast things snowball, and before you know it, you’ll be fully booked and operating a waitlist. Good luck! 

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