Maria Soleil began her freelancer marketing consultant business after losing her job in travel marketing. Starting in late 2020, Maria faced many obstacles others hadn’t with the pandemic. But, through hard work and commitment, she has built her business around the freedom to work where and when she wants. This is Maria’s story…
What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Maria Soleil, I am a marketing consultant and I work with small purpose-driven businesses who value creating impact as much as they value growing profit.
How long have you been freelancing and why did you decide to become a freelancer?
I went freelance in late 2020 after the Covid pandemic started and I lost my job in travel marketing. I decided it was the right time to start working for myself after building up almost a decade of experience in a few different industries. I’ve always valued freedom and flexibility in my work so in many ways it was a no-brainer.
What strategy do you find most effective for attracting new clients?
Tapping into my LinkedIn network, speaking to old contacts and joining great communities like Freelance Heroes.
What app or social media platform could you not run your business without, and why?
FreeAgent, because it makes invoicing and accounting hassle-free.
Do you research prospects before a call or meeting? If so, what information do you look for?
Always. I try to see if I can find out some clues about their motivations, their passions and their experience. I like to get an understanding of how mature their marketing knowledge is – are they looking for a strategic guide or just need some support with delivery.
What do you do to help maintain positive mental wellbeing?
I set boundaries and stick to them. I always make it clear when I am available to work for clients and when I’m not. I keep Fridays free for admin, training or just to get some headspace and take the day away from the laptop. I also make the most of not being chained to my desk from 9 – 5 by taking a walk in the mid-afternoon.
Is being a freelancer what you expected? Do you work more hours (or less) than what you had first anticipated?
It’s mostly what I expected although it takes more resilience than I thought it would. I am happy with my schedule at the moment but as I am newly self-employed, I am still ramping up my hours.
What are the most common objections you’ve had from potential clients? How did/do you overcome them?
It’s usually related to budget or payment terms, but I usually negotiate an agreement that works for both sides.
Have you ever turned a prospect away? If so, why and how did you do it?
Yes – if I could tell we wouldn’t be a good fit, I would tell them on a call or politely over email.
What do (would) you do when a client ghosts you?!
Luckily, I’ve never had a client do this! It happens a lot with prospects. I just forget it, move on and don’t take it personally.
Are your motivations now the same as they were when you started freelancing?
I only started recently so I’m still riding the wave of those first motivations.
What is it about being a freelancer that you enjoy most?
The freedom to work when and where I want, as well as being able to take time away from the computer screen when I need to. Also knowing that I can give myself a pay rise without much trouble!
What do you enjoy the least about being a freelancer?
Not having a close team to support with work or pick you up when you’re feeling a bit down.
What one thing do you wish you had known before you became a freelancer?
How important it is to build a thick skin quickly and move on from prospects who don’t want to engage your services.
What is your ONE top tip or piece of advice you would offer to other freelancers?
Be enterprising: Aim to meet and speak with at least two new people each week. Not only is it good for expanding your network but it gives a big boost to your mental wellbeing.