Freelancer Focus 

Our Freelancer Focus series features freelancers from our community, and we talk about how they’ve coped during the ongoing Covid19 crisis and their predictions for the future.

Next up is Jack Appleton, Founder and MD at Relentless Agency, providing social media and digital marketing services to national and international businesses and brands. Jack set the agency up after being made redundant from his role as UK Marketing Manager for the Melia Hotels Group in March due to the impact Covid has had on the hotel and hospitality industry. 

What do you do?

Based in Manchester, I provide social media and some digital marketing services to national and international businesses and brands small and large. With a strong commercial hospitality background, I have worked in a number of sales, revenue and marketing roles within these types of businesses at regional and group level, prior to setting up freelance under the Relentless Media brand in March 2020 following redundancy due to COVID-19 and its impact on events and hospitality. I primarily specialise in organic social, content creation, influencer programmes, (small and at scale), and social media strategy, (collaborating with paid and social media ecommerce partners).

What have you been up to during the Covid madness?

Keeping in touch with and working my network was key – I had to start from scratch in terms of getting the word out that I was now freelance and ‘open to work’ in the social marketing space, but also encourage my network to spread the word that my skills were very much transferrable and could flex and mould to suit businesses outside of the industry (hospitality). I’m incredibly grateful to those who have connected me with businesses seeking support and who have started working with me on their organic social footprint and since onboarding some new clients, the focus for me has been looking after them and trying to maintain some sort of pipeline to make sure I am networking and selling my services at the same time. I’ve found it a tricky balance!

What did your days look like pre-Covid and what do they look like now?

Pre-COVID I was Country Manager for a large hotel company and things were pretty chaotic with 3 hotels and almost 450 bedrooms in 3 cities under construction, and pretty strict critical paths to manage, collectively, to make sure the marketing deliverables were covered off. Now it couldn’t be more different. I absolutely love the flexibility the freelance model gives me, but I sometimes find myself jumping from task to task, flitting between priorities and having to take more time than ever before to re-focus and make sure I have a checklist and work through priorities – I’ve found it so easy to become overwhelmed.

How are you feeling mentally and how do you manage stress?

A bit of a rollercoaster a lot of the time. There is an image that freelancer life is chill, and you can come and go as you please – whilst it’s certainly true to a certain extent, I’ve found that sometimes I feel as if I have more bosses than ever before…and more than one person to report to can become overwhelming. I always try and write a check list and turn my phone over, so I ignore any reactive messages and actually focus on working through the checklist and tasks in hand. It’s tricky and sometimes really difficult but recently I’ve started thinking, “I certainly feel pretty overwhelmed now, but I’ve managed to get through my workload before and successfully, and I’ll do it again.” – it can also help me to put my phone in my pocket and go out for a walk, even for just 15 minutes to clear my head of distractions.

How do you feel about the future?

Pretty optimistic. I’ve recently really limited my media intake in terms of mainstream media and news. I used to receive a Sky News or BBC News alert and sit for 20 or 30-minutes thinking about the future and what will become of the world and how I’d manage to keep things ticking over, and even better, grow. I switched alerts off a few months ago and did a real detox of notifications on my phone and MAC. It’s certainly helped me maintain some optimism for the future as I can focus without certain distractions.

What predictions do you make for the future of freelancing?

I really do believe that freelance support will become a lot more mainstream and a lot of large businesses will be seeking freelancers to fulfil lots of the workload as they re-structure and re-strategize – for a lot of brands at corporate office level. It makes complete sense. Now, more than ever, (as has been written on the group before) it’s time for us to ‘set out our stalls’ in terms of managing client’s expectations, protecting and looking after our mental health and being ‘switched on’ – as I strongly believe more than ever, we’ll be a hugely necessary extension of teams for many businesses. I also believe they’ll be a lot more freelancers and businesses collaborating across the globe, remotely. We won’t need to service a client in Manchester and be based in Manchester, a marketing team could be made up of 6 freelancers in 6 different locations globally, and a head of marketing employed directly by said business. It’s the setup for one of my largest clients and we’ve grown sales during COVID so it really works.

 Thank you Jack for taking part. 🙂


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