Kat Loughrey on leaving the 9 to 5 and finding her freelance rhythm
This post is part of our Community Profile series where we explore the lives of the freelance professionals and entrepreneurs who power the CloudPeeps marketplace.
In the spirit of all things meta, we recently sat down with one of own Peeps and digital content strategist, Kat Loughrey to learn more about her journey into freelance life and what it’s been like moving to a new country and finding her freelance rhythm.
In this interview, she shares tips on how to be a better digital communicator and how to manage working remotely.
1) What is your expertise in, what are you passionate about professionally?
My background is in traditional communications, however I embraced the opportunity to cross over into the online realm in a previous job and never looked back. I have a solid background in managing content strategy for businesses digital assets. Now as a freelancer, I have taken those experiences and applied them to providing digital content strategy, community building, and social media management to clients.
Professionally, I’m passionate about working with businesses that are open, transparent and authentic in all that they do, and that seek to engage with their audience rather than simply promote to them. I’m also an avid believer in ensuring that all digital channels align with branding, style and messaging, as well as with the offline.
2) What’s the number one thing you include, champion, or remember when creating a digital content strategy?
With every content-related decision, I always ask clients to ask these questions:
- How is this adding value to the user?
- How is this relevant to their needs?
If they can’t answer or only answer in relation to a promotional point, then we need to go back to the drawing board and focus first on understanding their audience better. I also often ask: What is the purpose? Without a clear purpose in everything you do, a you may end up being far more reactive than proactive in your actions.
I think it’s important to ensure that style and branding are included, and that processes are in place to maintain this consistency in order to ensure there is a professional digital presence.
I loved this quote from CMX’s David Spinks recently. I think it’s spot on for any Peep to pose to their clients:
“Most businesses are fighting for eyeballs. Community is how you win the battle for hearts and minds. Which battle are you fighting?”
3) You recently traveled a ton, landing in a brand new country. Can you tell us a bit about that experience?
Six months ago, I left behind a 9-to-5 digital job in Melbourne, sold everything and headed overseas to reconnect with business contacts and friends, and decide on what I wanted to do next with my life.
It was a huge leap that was challenging to make, but one that I think had been simmering within me for several years — I’d just never had the courage to do it. It was exciting, scary, invigorating and stressful all at the same time – but I can safely say, despite the ups and downs so far, there’s been no regrets. I definitely made the right decision.
During the time I travelled through Europe, UK and the US, I slowly picked up some clients, made new connections and gained much knowledge from those who had done this before, resulting in me landing in a new country.
I will admit that I did find traveling and working at the same time a little bit challenging, especially when staying with family and friends, as I actually want to spend time with these people or explore the city I was in. I love learning more about the digital nomad lifestyle and hacks, I’m sure over time I will become better at the traveling / working thing. Each time I experience a small win (eg. downsize further, let go of something), and feel I’m one step closer to achieving that freedom.
4) You’re CloudPeeps’ Peep, how meta of us. What’s your experience been like so far?
It’s still early days, but I’m definitely enjoying the experience so far. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be involved with CloudPeeps, I see an exciting future ahead!
The team has been super welcoming and very supportive. I’m impressed by each of their skillsets and knowledge that I’m able to learn from. Plus, now have a proper excuse for looking for interesting articles on remote work, digital nomads and social media / community management.
I’m keen to see how we can progress CloudPeeps’ social media presence and continue to build on the excellent and engaged community that is already there.
5) Has your experience as a Peep differed from traditional freelancing? If so, how?
CloudPeeps provides a solid framework for a freelancer to work with — it takes the stress out of finding clients and determining expectations. The platform provides clear guidelines, built-in invoicing and transparency for clients as a result. I think it’s an excellent tool for freelancers to use. It just makes life easier in general. 🙂
6) What has been your favorite freelance or digital content win to date?
For me, I really appreciate the small wins. I get super excited when a piece of content does well almost immediately, and/or the engagement is strong. That’s the fun part about working in social media — sometimes your audience does exactly what you predict, other times they completely surprise you. It’s an ongoing process of learning from each action and determining how you can turn that learning into future content development and implementation.
I loved seeing how a recent Instagram post saw great traction and a positive response almost immediately. A Facebook post for another client also recently saw an organic reach of more than 12,000. This was meaningful because I had been working with them to change the wording used in their posts to seek more effective organic reach, rather than rely on paying for promoted posts (which is what they had always done in the past).
It’s those small ongoing wins that give you a real sense of comfort that you’re doing the right thing and moving forward in a positive direction.
7) Where do you work from, what does your workspace typically look like?
As an introvert at heart, I predominantly work from home. I thrive in my own space with no other sounds (except my music). I always struggled with the traditional office environment with its ongoing distractions and meetings. I feel far more comfortable in the freelance lifestyle where I can choose my workspace and manage it to suit my working style and needs.
I also loathe commuting as I feel it’s a waste of time in my day, a serious energy drainer and saps my creative spirit. So the less commute I have, the better.
Occasionally, I use a coffee shop to brainstorm or do a little social research, but generally I prefer to use a coffee shop as a space to take a break rather than work. I also occasionally use co-working spaces or communal working hubs with friends, but I use this time to work on something more repetitive so distractions don’t bother me so much.
For me, a clean, organized and clear space is vital to work from. I also value natural light, a comfortable chair, fast internet, and the space to take online phone calls or meetings or play music without headphones. As I love to take a good afternoon nap, I like to be close to my bed to take a power nap if needed!
8) Any hobbies or other side hustles?
As I used to work in music media and currently have some music industry clients, I’m drawn to music as an outlet to destress and unwind. I love to go see DJs play or live gigs, plus it’s always ongoing research for my clients.
Back in Australia, I had turntables, so I used to love to mix for fun in my spare time — something I do miss from time to time now that I’m in less permanent living arrangements.
I’m a volunteer copyeditor for the academic journal, Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture. Ever since I wrote my Masters thesis on a dance music related topic, I’ve had a keen interest in the academic writings of the scene and therefore enjoy being involved through Dancecult.
I’ve been an ongoing digital consultant for my father with his blog and his art website (that we’re working on together to build). I also have my own website and blog, however I must admit due to work demands, it’s dropped down my list of things to focus on but I hope to get back into regular blogging soon.
9) Do you have any mentors? Who do you admire or look up to professionally?
Several people have come into my life over recent years that have helped shape the life I’m currently living.
Without sounding too cheesy here, I have to say CloudPeeps and The Fetch founder Kate Kendall is definitely someone I look up to professionally. Since I met her several years ago in Melbourne and I joined The Fetch, she’s been a great source of inspiration and support. I’m always learning from her and am impressed by what she is achieving each week. I’m certain I wouldn’t have made the leap to freelance and become a Peep, if it wasn’t for her!
I also admire what my aunty has achieved in her life as a scientist, communications professional and now as a business & life coach. She’s been an amazing support on my recent journey to leave the 9-to-5 behind and seek a new independent lifestyle, as she too did the same when leaving her corporate job to become a coach. I’m lucky to have several family members who are constant sources of motivation and inspiration, as well as excellent listening ears during the more challenging parts of my career journey!
I am the kind of person who gains knowledge and learns from many people that I meet along the journey of life. Anyone doing something meaningful, without the desire to “just be famous” or “just make lots of money” always peaks my interest in them and what they’re doing. Bringing together people to be creative, share ideas or just do something positive is always super attractive to me.
10) How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle when working independently as a freelancer? Any tips or resources to share?
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle while freelancing can be challenging. It’s about finding a balance between working too much vs working too little. If you can’t find the balance, unfortunately you have no one else to blame but yourself (not a boss!).
I feel it’s important to find a rhythm that suits your body clock and work within those boundaries. I work best first thing in the morning and in the evening — so in the afternoon, I try to avoid holding meetings (if possible with time zone differences) and take a late lunch or plan an exercise session instead.
I also know what kind of music to use at each point of the day or mood – I have a list of Spotify playlists that I rotate depending on what kind of energy push and level of focus I need.
It’s vital to ensure you take breaks and get adequate sleep and not end up working all the time. This is definitely one I am still finding my way with. I aim to take a walk/jog everyday near the end of the day to clear my head and stretch the body, as I can get quite sore from sitting at my desk all day. My motto is – if in doubt about anything with work (or life really), just go for a long walk. Everything seems better and easier to face once you return.
When I first started freelancing, I was so focused on saving money, I thought I should eat most of my meals at home. However, I soon realized that this was not the best idea, as I felt I was cooped up in my apartment all day and never had a reason to leave. Now I allow in my budget to eat more (low cost) meals outside to give myself a break, fresh air and a new environment.
I also prioritize attending industry meetups and catching up with friends several nights a week to (a) force myself to leave the house, and (b) to push myself to engage with others and take a mental break from work. This has all been super beneficial in staying sane and not being (too) hard on myself if I’ve felt like I’ve not had a productive day. It’s still a work in progress as I keep fine-tuning what works for me, but I’m sure it will get easier the longer I’m a freelancer.
How have you found your freelance rhythm? Let us know in the comments below!
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