In this week’s Peep Profile, we learn more about our Peep Danielle Devereux. We asked her why she choose the life of a freelancer, what she’s working on and a bit about her work process and day-to-day life. Danielle is a full-stack digital strategist, dot-connector and creativity enthusiast. Learn more about her, in her story below!
Tell us about your career to date…
My career path has been really curiosity-driven and non-linear to date. I get obsessed with something and want to be great at it, so I teach myself, and then it’s been my pattern to find some application of those skills in a way that supports me.
This was the case with the first company I founded, a clothing company, right after college back in 2005. I did all my own design and a lot of production work myself, which was unsustainable, but fun for a time. I was featured in Make magazine and Time magazine for my original embroidery patterns and craftsmanship.
I was also learning graphic design and just enough code to be dangerous. While maintaining Love Plus One as a side project, I took a marketing gig at a startup in Brooklyn working on launching their new SaaS product. That was how I got started in digital marketing, and ever since then I’ve been focusing pretty exclusively on SMB and startup marketing.
I did do a brief stint in corporate as a graphic designer and content coordinator for I <3 radio, but after a couple of years, I went back to contract and client work full-time. My client roster grew pretty fast with a healthy mix of agency contracts and SMB/ startup clients retaining me for SEO and content work. Around 2011, I founded my second company damolade consulting, which is where we are today.
Describe yourself in three words.
Figure it out.
How did you get into freelancing and why did you choose a freelance career?
I don’t think I ever choose freelancing as a career, and I don’t really see myself as a “freelancer” — I’m a “dot connector” — I go after projects and clients that help me to build new skills from previous experience and that allows me to try new things. Basically, I work in sprints, learning and applying, taking ideas from many disciplines, and combining and recombining them to create new revenue opportunities for myself and others.
I see myself as a relationship builder, and I’ve always been commended for my ability to listen to people’s needs and help craft a solution for them. I think this is why I have been successful in digital marketing, specifically social media and content marketing since these things are about staying ahead of the curve, analyzing where you’ve been and being strategic about where you’re going. I make new connections happen.
What does your daily routine look like? Where do you work from?
It’s pretty structured. I get up early, go for a run, have breakfast, and work until around dinner time. At which point I cook, because I really enjoy eating.
Most days I work from my home office. I like to be able to control the ambience – I’m very particular about lighting, music and sounds. I’m pretty extroverted by nature, which is why I’m not as productive in an office environment or coffee shop. I’d get into too many conversations! Currently, I communicate with my teams using Slack, which is great because I can receive and share info as needed and turn on and off notifications depending on how “heads down” I need to be that day.
How do you keep your clients happy?
Communication is key. I make sure that I’m on the same page with clients as far as strategy, goals and tactics before we begin. I put together a “gameplan” the first month so I’m aligned with stakeholders from the start. Of course plans usually evolve and iterate over the course of a project.
Reporting is also key. It’s the best way to prove your value and increase retention of clients over the long-term. I’ve written on my blog about measuring, analyzing and reporting the results of inbound marketing. If you close the marketing loop for clients, leads—>customers, you prove ROI and get to keep your retainer. It also helps to be nice, have a good attitude and always do your best.
Who inspires you most professionally? Why?
I’m really inspired by women who connect dots in meaningful ways to help solve problems facing society. I recently read a story about how a sheriff and a doctor teamed up to bring healthcare to vulnerable kids in poverty stricken areas. They created a “mobile clinic” that goes into communities and disrupts poverty and abuse by intervening early to create better long term health outcomes for over 5,000 patients a year. The doctors are all volunteers. The article, in its entirety, is a beautiful read over at npr.org.
To that end, I always try and have a volunteer side gig going. This past summer I volunteered as a graphic designer for a women’s community center and I’ve been a patient advocate at a women’s clinic since 2009.
What do you like to read, watch or listen to either while working or in your free time?
For artistic and literary stimulation, I head over to Maria Popova’s blog Brain Pickings. It’s filled with fascinating musings, some curated, some original about our modern age and how they relate to famous philosophers and artists from the past. She always has a great book or podcast recommendation for you as well so you never leave empty-handed! She is arguably one of the best examples (and proponents) of what she calls “combinatorial creativity.” That is, connecting things to create new ideas.
What are your favorite freelance and/or marketing resources?
Nichole Elizabeth DeMere’s blog – I’m particularly interested in her lately because she is quirky as hell and not afraid to mix that in and make it her trademark. She’s a knowledgeable writer, really engaging on social media and she’s thoroughly unique – something rare in marketing. She epitomizes the ideal freelance lifestyle.
HubSpot for marketing strategy and every template imaginable.
Moz for technical SEO best-practices.
Buffer blog for social media strategy and tools.
Growth hackers for what’s trending.
Medium, “innovation” tag for lean startup & entrepreneurship stories.
What’s your one piece of advice to those new to freelancing?
Freelancing is not for everyone. If you can’t live with a decent amount of uncertainty, you should probably get an office job.
If you’re wondering how to find work, the key is to know what you do well and have a couple of projects under your belt to prove it. Look for projects that push you outside of your comfort zone and help you build new skills and connections for future work. Oh, and limit distractions (people and things). It’s the only way to get any real work done!
What are your top three places we should check out when visiting your city/town?
Barton Springs pool and Zilker Park. The Soul of Austin. Beautiful, urban, natural spring fed pool. Open all year round, but it’s always a chilly 68 degrees, so unless you’re a member of the polar bear club, probably a summer activity.
South Congress Street. Locally-owned shops and bats under Congress street bridge (bats, also, summer only). We have some seriously cool businesses along “SoCo” (as it’s called locally) that you should definitely check out. At dusk, head south on the street towards the capital to see our Mexican free-tailed bat population emerge from under the bridge. It’s a summertime tradition not to be missed.
Mayfield Park peacocks and Laguna Gloria Museum. Beautiful little park that has wild peacocks roaming about. Directly next door is the Laguna Gloria Museum lush with trails old oak trees at the foot of historic Mount Bonnell.
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