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Name: Ashley Barnett
Location: Mesa, Arizona
Bio: Ashley Barnett is an expert in blog management and content creation. She works with sites like Money Under 30, PT Money, and Choose FI. Her course, Hit Publish, teaches new and intermediate bloggers how to produce the best content on the internet.
How long have you been doing freelance work? More than 5 years
Tell us about your freelance business, in 200 words or less.
I’ve been blogging for 15 years and have been a freelance editor and blog manager for over 5 years. I recently created a course, Hit Publish, to teach new bloggers how to create better content for their site.
What do you consider to be your specialty. How does it help you in your business?
For the course, my ideal client is a newer blogger who is frustrated by the results they’ve seen from their site. For my blog management services, my ideal client is a blogger who has a team of writers and would like to focus on growing their site, rather than managing writers and editing content.
What made you become a freelancer?
Blogging is hard! There are so many things that need to be done and hats to wear. It can lead to a lot of guilt and feeling like you can never do enough. Freelancing let me do the parts of blogging that I loved and avoid the parts that stressed me out.
What do you love most about freelance work, and why?
My favorite part is learning from the site owners. Everyone runs their blog a little differently and it’s awesome to learn from so many points of view. I think that gives me a very unique perspective on blogging.
What do you hate about it?
I hate not having my own brand and that in the end I’m trading time for money. Not exactly the entrepreneur’s dream.
Tell us about your first paid job. How did you land your first client?
I met my first client (and all my clients for that matter) at FinCon, an annual conference for personal finance content creators.
Do you think aspiring freelancers should take unpaid work to gain experience? Why or why not?
Not unpaid no. Super cheap… fine. But don’t work for free. Asking for money and negotiating rates is part of freelancing. If you are working for free you are passing up learning the one skill that will make you the most money of all!
Do you feel you’re charging what you’re worth?
Yes, I do feel I charge what I’m worth. I got there by charging each client a little more than the one before–then dropping the lowest paying client when my schedule was full. Also, specializing will allow you to charge more money. So as you get experience you’ll find the parts of the job that you like the most… focus on that and become an expert in that area. Not only will you get to the work you love, you can charge a lot for it! Win win.
Describe your process for finding new clients? Where do you look?
My “process” is going to FinCon. As general advice–I’d say to listen to your target clients. Even if that particular person never hires you… listen to their pain points and the ACTUAL WORDS they use. What words do they use to describe their problems? Use those words back to other prospective clients and in your marketing. For example, I manage writers and edit articles for blogs. I had a perspective client say to me once “I have all this content from writers but I don’t have time to edit it. I just need some one to get it ready and hit publish.” Oh yeah.. that’s gold. I have used that copy all over the place and in talks with other clients. In fact, it inspired the name of my course “Hit Publish” That prospective client handed me my best sales copy ever.
Have you ever had to ‘fire’ a client? If so, why and how did you do it?
I haven’t “fired” client in the way that they were a bad client to work for… but I have moved on from clients. I did it because the work I was doing for them no longer fit into my over all plans. I was doing general VA work and I was starting to specialize in blog management. I always give 30 days notice and I try to refer them to someone I know will do a good job. I also offer to train the new person (as long as the training happens in the 30 day window).
Name 3 tools (apps, equipment) that you can’t live without. What makes them so great?
Todoist, Google Calendar, Multiple inboxes in Gmail (google it.. it’s amazing!)
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What is your #1 productivity hack?
Start the day knowing exactly what you need to get done that day. Like the “if I get these things done the day will be a success” type things.
Do you outsource tasks? Why or why not? If so, which ones?
Yup, I sure do. Not everything is worth your time. There are tons of tedious little things that need to be done either in my own business or my client’s. If I can hire someone to do those things for less than I’m charging… why wouldn’t I?
In your opinion, what is the most important skill required for freelance work, and why?
The ability to negotiate your rates. Asking for money is tough!! But your income will suffer if you don’t get comfortable with it.
Do you consider yourself a strong time manager? How do you stay organized?
I do. Todoist is extremely helpful at reminding me of all the things I need to do everyday. I use Trello to keep track of all the content moving through the system on the various sites I run. Write everything down!! I don’t trust myself to remember anything.
Do you also work a 9-5? If so, how do you balance it with your freelance business?I freelance full time.
Where do you do most of your work?
I rent an office. I worked from home for almost 15 years, two months ago I rented actual office space and it’s been a total game changer.
Do you use a co-working space? I do not use a co working space.
Name an entrepreneur/freelancer/influencer who inspires you. What is it about their story/message that resonates?
I want to be Kayla Sloan when I grow up. She started out as a general VA… like millions of other general VAs. But what she has done with her course is amazing. She has turned herself into the go to resource for Virtual Assistants. I’ve been so impressed with her trajectory and I love her personal brand. She’s such a badass yet still totally approachable. It’s tough to thread that needle and I think she does an amazing job.
Name 1 thing you would do differently, if you were starting over today?
Honestly, I don’t think I would do anything differently. Each step I took gave me the skills and confidence to take the next step. Not that I did everything perfectly… but it was the path I needed to take.
What is your #1 tip for aspiring freelancers?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You don’t need to know everything. Your clients don’t expect you to be perfect or know every detail… just have a good attitude and genuinely keep your client’s best interests at heart. You’ll be fine. 🙂
Freelancer Success Stories: Sarah Li-Cain, Freelance Writer