It’s 2016, My life in the Gig Economy is going well. I just hope my blog is still up to date?  With so much going on professionally, it’s hard to stay on top of your own marketing game sometimes! But I’m still me, and working solo has been great to me so far. And just so you know – I’m not that girl in the photo. That’s a little game I like to play with stock photos just to keep everyone on their toes.

But more about the real me – I have had a whirlwind of a ride exercising my skills and freelancing muscle as the head of Thirst Productions, which only kicked into full swing early in 2016. I’ve lost track of the number of clients and projects I’ve had the pleasure to work on, thank goodness I have a portfolio I keep somewhat up to date. And perhaps even more importantly, I can honestly say I have had a great time working on each. Freelancing is not for everyone, but it aligns very well with my independent spirit. I like to work hard, play hard and am learning when to take risks to seek rewards. Knowing that the future of business is going to focus on the gig economy, I believe my place as a talented freelancer is key to seeing my own personal successes down the road. I leverage a number of social channels to share my messages, but rely mostly on Linkedin as it keeps business related topics open for all to see, but keeps everything neat, tidy and clean.

I probably don’t market like you do – if you ever think of yourself as ‘old school’ – I do my connecting very virtually. While I indeed get most  business through referrals, I do get a fair amount of clients that simply stumble upon my information and like what they see, I think because I am genuine, and transparent, and care about the outcomes of my clients. While I work to be paid, I put the work, and the relationship first. The dollars seem to magically flow afterwards (though I certainly could use a few more of those, it’s tough with no one but yourself to get ahead sometimes).

Linkedin has been fantastic for networking, introductions, and follow-ups – being a professional forum it isn’t viewed as invasive or “creepy” to look at someone’s history or contact them out of the blue with a fun idea or even just a bit of positive messaging. In a forum that is business focused (and since I am no longer a recruiter) people appreciate a genuine message, even if it is simple, and I hope with all the changes it can become stronger and stronger. It’s a fascinating service. I have also entertained a number of requests from Linkedin Pro Finder which has opened my network up to people who weren’t already in my 5000 or so closest friends. Just when you think you know everyone in your field – there are more, different groups of folks out there just around the corner, like little foreign countries you weren’t aware of operating under the radar. It’s fascinating to connect them all and experience the fact that it is a really, really small world.

That being said, I have had the pleasure of working on a vast array of marketing related projects, from designing and creating Survey Monkey questionnaires to communicating company messages via Mail Chimp, as well as writing numerous press releases and launching endless social media channels. I manage and maintain content for a number of businesses across all social media portals, and also have seen success contributing to blogs and marketing materials with genuine, authentic content. I’ve become all too familiar with the Google Search Console and have spent many wasted hours doing things ‘the google way.’ And speaking of Googs, I have become fully immersed in the land of SEO challenges, wrangling with the likes of the Google machine is certainly no joke. The complexities of search engine and social media marketing have become a massive challenge to most businesses, with only two means to survive – pay a boatload of money or produce content that people enjoy. But there is a catch. You also have to actively promote it, remain involved in the community you are attempting to reach, and be relevant to your target audience.

Now that Facebook has monetized company presences (if you aren’t paying to boost posts, it’s likely no one is seeing them) and if you are paying and no one’s listening, you may just be throwing money out the window. With new platforms like Instagram and Snapchat to consider, the party never seems to end.

In addition to consulting with and working alongside clients on content creation and distribution, I have had the pleasure of learning a good deal about WordPress development – like it or not. While I consider myself quite technical in nature, a programmer I am not. But with so many amazing plugins, templates, and self-directed Help resources available – many of which come at little or no cost – the possibilities for anyone with an interest in learning are virtually endless.

Yet many challenges exist in this space – there is too much freedom, too many plugins, too many devices/platforms to plan for, and too much misinformation out there. Web design doesn’t have to be expensive, yet certainly shouldn’t be cheap. Cheap out on complex features you don’t need (read: anything that would ever be built in flash) and dedicate resources to genuine design elements like fresh photos, rich colors, and carefully tuned messages. There are no so many channels to distribute content, the real battle is choosing whom to market to – then honing your message to the ideal consumer(s). So many companies lose sight of the difference between a beautiful website – which can be a work of art – and a marketing tool that actually delivers the right message.

I love working with clients on all aspects – the marketing messages that need to be developed, the keywords that strike home, imagery that talks to the target market and storytelling. It’s all about storytelling.

Here are a few of the sites I have designed, developed, and launched – from scratch – in 2016. I’m already filled up with projects on the way to 2017 so more to come!

Peak Business Consultants, LLC

Magalloway Guide Service

Kate MacPhee – Physical Therapist

Shoals Fishing Harpoons

The Great Bay Stewards

And 3 more in production.

While I have no employees (nor do I intend to) I fully could never have completed these projects on my own, leveraging the skills of friends and business partners both locally and from across the globe and am grateful for the support, advice, and suggestions of many whom I wish to formally thank someday.

So that is my story. If you are looking for localized, individualized marketing attention, specifically through the use of internet and social media technologies, I can help your brand find it’s true path on the road to content marketing. And if I can’t, I can refer someone who can.

Rich Collins

PS. I entered my story into Linkedin’s #ProFinderContest. I’m gonna win a few thousand dollars of seed money with this little tale. #Entreprenurial thinking at it’s finest. Just #believe in your product – it’s the advice I’ve heard time and time again!