Admin. Love it or hate it, it’s a big part of freelancing. The harsh reality is that when you work for yourself, you only have so many billable hours in a week, and what many people don’t see is all the unpaid hours of admin that go into freelance work. From finding and retaining clients, setting rates, to networking and pitching yourself, there’s a lot that goes on behind the freelance scenes.
Because whether you’re a sole trader or a limited company, being self-employed is basically like running a business. It’s an unglamorous job but someone’s got to do it, and Cristina Lai knows exactly how valuable your time is when you’re freelance.
Cristina is a growth marketing consultant and a seasoned freelancer. She set out to do her own thing a few years ago partly out of circumstance, but mainly because she felt constrained in her full-time job. “If I'm not constantly learning something, improving on something, or having obstacles thrown my way, I lose interest in things. And I've seen that in corporate environments.”
Despite having what she describes as a “dream job” on paper, the monotony eventually got to her. “I could do my job well in two hours and then there would be still six hours left. I didn't know what to do with myself.” The office perks and barista coffee wasn’t enough, she wanted a challenge, and to feel like she was contributing to the growth of a business.
“Being a freelancer allows you to have the best of both worlds where you are actually making an impact but you set the expectations. You also have a certain authority in what you say that is listened to. As stupid as it might sound, I need that drive to feel like I am contributing to the success of this company.”
For Cristina, being freelance not only allows her to work with clients across all kinds of industries, but it’s also a chance for her to explore different verticals, targets and stages of business, “which kind of keeps me on my toes and makes me learn,” she says. It’s one of the many ways Passionfruit has allowed her to develop her skill set, and make freelancing not only easier but more lucrative, too.
“It's nice and refreshing that you’re constantly learning all the time, so in X amount of months, your rate is going to be higher because you're going to be more knowledgeable.” Upskilling is a must for her, not only because she enjoys the challenge, but because it adds another notch to her freelance belt (and potentially a zero to her bill).
She explains that Passionfruit has allowed her to work across new areas of growth marketing, spanning from proptech to haircare brands — without the hassle of cold pitching people on LinkedIn or scouring job boards.
“These are pre-vetted companies, in a way. So you're talking with people that know their shit. You get good quality clients that know what they need, and you get a brief and you know exactly what you're going to be doing,” she says.
“Everything is just clear, it’s a model that I believe works really well. It’s a great way for freelancers to not have to spend money marketing themselves or getting leads.”
Now that she’s a successful freelancer, her goal is to grow her consultancy business — an apt goal for a growth marketer — and one day eventually hire people to help her. Because if there’s anything she’s learned working with Passionfruit, it's that time is money… and admin doesn’t pay.