Yep. I decided I needed to work with people on a permanent basis again, and wanted a gig that combined social media, copwriting, and the chance to work in an interesting, online environment for a company that was going places. And I got it!
It’s been an, ummm, interesting three years plying my trade as a freelance social media bod. The first year I found my feet, and the income slowly and steadily rose, until at one point I was seriously considering taking on people to help me out. Then it suddenly all went downhill, and I found the work taking more out of me than it was putting in.
Curiously, since I made the decision to go back to permanent employment, things started picking up again. But I’d made my decision.
It’s not just the work, it’s the freelance life that started to pall. You tend to find that when you’re working, you’re not hunting, so a large spike in earnings one month becomes a drop the next, when you’re looking for work. And despite winning over 30 clients in the past three years – nearly one a month – I never really managed to arbitrate for that lumpy demand. And it’s lonely. And you tend to find you’re eating more biscuits than is strictly necessary.
Plus, whenever I visited clients in London, I realised how much I missed it. I used to think it would be great to be able to get on with work, without being disturbed by people, with a cat asleep next to the monitor and Radio 4 in the background. At first, it was. Then I realised I was talking to the cat, and it wasn’t even listening, even when it wasn’t sleeping. I missed the buzz of the city, and the stimulation of being around people.
And I also realised that freelance doesn’t lend itself well to truly strategic thinking. You’re regarded as a stopgap, and while you can kickstart programmes and train people, you don’t get to sink your teeth into something long-term. I really missed that. I think I’m more of a builder than a starter. Adfonic will give me the opportunity to build.
So a brave new world awaits. Adfonic is a very interesting global mobile advertising company that matches publishers and developers who want to monetise their wares, to advertisers who want maximum exposure. I’ll be producing a ton of written material for them and looking after their social media presence and I just can’t wait. Strangely, it’s almost exactly what I did at Sharepages.com and its parent company KTS, except social media didn’t exist then. And when I look back, that’s the environment in which I felt I most belonged. I’m hoping the same happens at Adfonic.
My feelings about social media? Well, I’ve learned a lot over the past three years. I’ve learned that social media simply does not, cannot and should not stand alone. It absolutely needs to be complemented by other communications programmes including PR (‘earned’ exposure), advertising (‘paid’) and a company’s own efforts (its ‘owned’ channels). I’ve also learned that there’s a lot of variation in approaches to comms generally, from ‘seat of the pants’ activity with little planning and lots of gut feeling, through to people who really do want to figure out replicable, objective ways of getting the most out of a programme through strategy. My money’s most definitely on the latter, but it seems most people can muddle through well enough.
I knew there was hype around social media. I do give credence to the Gartner Hype Cycle, and I think I’ve lived through the peak and the trough. We’re probably nearing the productive plateau. But I also think a lot of companies are now thinking “Well, we never did start that blog or YouTube channel or Facebook page, and we’re still here and doing ok”, and they’re right. But they probably could be doing better. Still, it’s not a wasted opportunity if you never took it, right? If you’re doing well enough, then that’s, well, enough.
So I’m looking forward to Monday. Today I visited the same bench, high up in the Chilterns, where I sat on the day I handed in my notice and decided to go freelance. Then, I sat for a while and wondered what on earth I’d done. This time, I sat for a while and thought about the ups and downs I’d been through over the past three years. The view, I’m sure you’ll agree, helps you get a good perspective.
As for my subscribers, well, I’m not really sure what’s going to happen with this blog. I’ve been toying with the idea of taking the Netvibes Pro option, setting up a dashboard under the brendancooper.com domain, and using that more to curate content, including whatever I’ll decide to write about, alongside other snippets I pick up along the way. Or I might start writing about my Triumph Spitfire or Concorde the Tortoise. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, I’d like to thank the following clients for their help over the past three years: Abacus Marketing, Brightpath Technology, Consolidated PR, Edelman, Flashlight Marketing, Fleishman Hillard, Ideas4All, Jason Deign Associates, Kwittken London, License to PR, Maillot Jaune, Metrica, Neesham PR, Noble Meleka, Nobull Communications, PointBeyond, Ranieri Communications, Synesis Digital, Social Media Academy, and Superior Catering.