Originally published by The Evening Times.
Who are you?
Laura Blackhurst, age 27, based in Glasgow.
What does your business do?
My business is a digital marketing and copywriting consultancy, specialising in social media management and content creation for clients encompassing a wealth of industries, from food and drink to finance, TV production to retail. Output includes: social media strategies, training workshops, paid advertising campaigns, insights and reporting, as well as creative copywriting to support digital or print activity.
My business’ main aim is to deliver bespoke solutions that don’t take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Every business is unique, which means that its corresponding strategy has to be too, ensuring that all activity stays true to the brand, its key aims, and is designed to achieve future goals.
Where are you based?
I’m based between my home office in Glasgow, as well as at the locations of my clients, as and when necessary.
My next step is to secure dedicated office space at a co-working facility; Glasgow is abundant with fantastic options, with spaces like Collabor8te or Clockwise which are ideal for providing small business owners a space in the heart of the city. Working in an environment such as this is also invaluable for networking with people in different industries, which could even lead to forming a partnership or securing new business.
How did you get started?
I started freelancing alongside having a full-time job three years ago (yes, it doesn’t leave you with much free time!). I did this to be able to develop my craft in multiple areas, while building an additional network of contacts. I was able to easily navigate working on the additional commitments around my full-time job, by spending either weekends or free evenings working on them. It was also beneficial to my full-time job as I was picking up additional skills and knowledge that I could then implement within the business.
Three years later, when I was approached by more companies asking to work with me, I knew I was no longer able to balance a full-time role and freelance work. At this point I decided it was prime time to go solo and set up my own business.
My one piece of advice would be that if you are thinking of taking on additional consulting work on top of a job, be absolutely sure that it will not be detrimental in any way to your full-time commitments.
What is your background?
I have a mixture of agency and editorial experience, having worked in digital agencies as well as a stint as Editor-in-chief for a magazine. At my last employment, I worked my way up to Head of Social Media at full-service communications agency, LUX, during which time the company put me forward for the Digital Professional of the Year Award at The Herald Awards in 2016. Much to my utter disbelief, I won!
What is your top tip?
Hone your craft! Work scrupulously to gain the knowledge and experience you need until you are 100% confident in your ability to provide the service for which you are asking people to pay. Talk to as many people as possible, not just those within your industry, but outside of it, and start to make a ‘hit list’ of dream businesses with which you’d like to work – then approach them! I firmly believe you’ll do your best work if you consult for a business about which you’re truly passionate.
What was your biggest mistake/or what would you do differently?
I learned very swiftly that you simply cannot do everything yourself. It can be hard for most of us to relent control of something so close to you, but you should accept the fact that while you are skilled in some areas, you are’t in all of them. When you realise your strengths and weaknesses, learn to reach out to people who are experts in their respective fields. No great shakes with websites? Source a developer to help you. Don’t know where to start with the finance side of things? Hire a bookkeeper. In the long-run, this will absolutely save your business an invaluable amount of resources – whether that’s in the form of your time, money or sanity!
Where do you plan your business to be in five years time?
One of the biggest attractions to consulting in the digital world is the flexibility it allows – not only with managing your own schedule, but also how unrestrictive it is with regards to your physical working location. Armed with an internet connection and a laptop, I could hypothetically work from anywhere in the world the majority of the time. Within five years, this is an area I would like to further explore through working in different locations around the world.
Over the next few years the plan is to be able to take on a higher volume of projects, which will be achieved by employing additional people to work with me to deliver them e.g. web developers, photographers, designers, data analysts.
I would highly recommend keeping up-to-date with networking opportunities, including 29 Studios’ networking events, as well as the monthly Digital Platform meet-ups, organised by Nine Twenty, which explore a different area of the digital industry at each event, with guest speakers talking in great detail about the area’s current development.