As part of our Meet The Freelancer series of blogs, we interview many freelance professionals from a range of industries.
Alcohol Reduction Hypnotherapy Specialist, Ailsa Frank, has an impressive 31 years of freelancing experience under her belt.
While recovering from a challenging time in her own life, Ailsa discovered a career that she loves and has since helped tens of thousands of individuals overcome adversity.
Opting for a career change 14 years ago, Ailsa now works as a hypnotherapist from her Ascot home, treating clients worldwide to aid alcohol reduction, weight loss, confidence, self-esteem, stress and more.
Her work has featured on the BBC, in national papers including The Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Sun, The Sunday Times, The Independent and The Mirror as well as in national magazines including Marie Claire, Woman’s Own, Woman’s Weekly, Bella, Top Santé, Take a Break and more.
For the first 18 years of her career, Ailsa worked all over the world as a photographic food stylist which involved artfully designing food and ensuring it looked appealing for television adverts, magazines and editorial cookery books.
On one occasion, she even went to the Caribbean for an ice cream commercial, where she prepared the ice cream for the model to eat on the beach. Ailsa also worked on film sets at Pinewood along with working on food shoots for packaging in supermarkets.
At the time, Ailsa was working freelance with an agent who booked her out on jobs. While the job was as fascinating as it sounds, it was also very stressful and required regularly committing to long working hours.
Despite the outward looking glamour of the job, Ailsa was dealing with a lot of personal challenges, both at work and in her home life.
Following her divorce in 2002, where she lost custody of her 10-year-old daughter, Ailsa experienced a mental breakdown and lost everything she valued most. Losing her daughter, money, home, car, dog, friends and belongings, following her release from hospital, Ailsa found herself living alone in a bedsit.
It was at this low point, when looking for answers, that Ailsa turned to hypnotherapy. During her own healing process, Ailsa found hypnotherapy to be incredibly helpful. It served as a pivotal tool in getting her life back on track and is what inspired Ailsa to train in the field. Training with the Hypnothink Foundation UK and National Guild of Hypnotists USA, to primarily learn more about her new interest, Ailsa completed her training in 2005.
With the initial goal of helping just one person, this transpired into helping another person and another person and eventually amounted to tens of thousands of individuals. As well as providing hypnotherapy in person and over the phone, Ailsa also helps individuals through hypnotherapy recordings and her book, Cut the Crap and Feel Amazing.
Now available in eight different languages, this is something that has been a great achievement for Ailsa and means that her help can spread further, quicker.
Since making the career change, Ailsa has never looked back.
She says: “I really love it so much and it helps people so specifically.” When explaining the difference between meditation and hypnotherapy, Ailsa describes meditation as being a relaxed state. Hypnotherapy on the other hand is an altered state of awareness where you use very directed content to make a very specific change and break habits by rewriting past behaviours and unlocking the route of the behaviour.
While Ailsa treats people from all walks of life, stress is a key issue she helps clients to overcome. She explains: “Often it’s a lot of work pressure. I speak to women who are stressed from trying to juggle work, home life and the children. 70% of my clients are female and they’re usually aged 30+.”
For most hypnotherapists, the job comes hand in hand with freelancing.
Ailsa says: “People usually if they’ve got a problem, will look for a local hypnotherapist, so I knew it was pretty much up to me to get out there and promote myself. It wasn’t really a choice of working for a company because there weren’t any options.”
At the start of her hypnotherapy career, Ailsa worked from home to keep costs down. As time progressed, she then took a clinic room a couple of days a week in a different area to where her home was based. Tactically, she did this so she could cover two different catchment areas.
In the free time Ailsa had in the early days where she wasn’t with clients, Ailsa was always using her time productively – working on her website, leaflets and advertorials for local magazines.
Being aware of the press having worked for various media organisations in her previous role as a food stylist, the first job Ailsa did in her new business of hypnotherapy was write a press release which she sent to her local paper and the local magazine. The local papers picked up Ailsa’s press release and ran the story. Ailsa’s first client came from that article.
“When you’re freelance you’re actually a sales person, even if you don’t realise you are.”
She says: “I was always proactive, generating new leads for the next month and I always checked every bit of advertising I did when people made a booking. I checked where they had come from and how they found out about me. I used to keep a record of which magazine had generated which work to make sure I was always making a profit on my advertising.”
While magazine and newspaper adverts worked well for Ailsa, she was confident in negotiating with them and careful not to overspend.
Ailsa explains: “I would say, ‘I’m just a freelancer, I’m one person and I can’t pay the rates that maybe a bigger company would pay.’ I would then pick a figure that was affordable to me and propose it to them. That worked well for me; sometimes they would give me last minute space at the cheaper rate if they couldn’t fill the space.”
“Obviously now there is a lot of online marketing as well which I do but I found that it’s best to trial all the different types of marketing within a budget so that you find what works for you.”
After years of providing hypnotherapy on a range of issues, Ailsa decided to narrow her focus on to alcohol reduction. She describes finding your niche, within your industry, as being especially important for a freelancer.
She explains: “My client base are mainly women because women seek help more than men. One of my biggest topics – I started out just doing general topics with hypnotherapy – is drinking. I very quickly realised that a lot of people drink, for example they’ll have a bottle of wine to relax in the evening and then that has an impact on their sleep. They then feel more sluggish and they get more stressed because they’ve drunk too much and it’s harder at work. It’s sort of this downwards spiral.”
“I help everyday working people who drink and others who binge drink over the weekend.”
Nowadays Ailsa doesn’t have a clinic. With a worldwide client base, she spends much of her time completing appointments over the phone at home. She also does talks and keynote speaking for corporate companies as well as presenting workshops.
Discussing events for freelancers, Ailsa says: “I’ll go to events that are organised. If it’s a group that meets already and they want me to come in to do a workshop, that’s what I will do. I don’t generally organise my own workshops because it’s a lot of effort trying to get people to a certain place but if it’s a corporate company, they already have all their employees there and they’re inviting me.”
“It’s a good idea for anyone who is freelance to find where the audience is and then go there, rather than trying to create your own workshop.”
For any aspiring hypnotherapists, Ailsa recommends doing the hypnotherapy part-time while maintaining your old job, until you have built up your reputation and practice. This approach will take away some of the financial stress and allow you to develop your skills under less pressure.
Ailsa explains: “Don’t rely on the money of freelance work in the beginning because you’re building your reputation. You’ve got to build your clients and sometimes clients are not ready for your services. It may take 6 months to a year before they decide to use your services so don’t take maybe as a yes. Take it as a no until it happens.”
“Push out your services every single day to get the work coming in. With your money, really keep yourself on a tight budget. Instead of going out for dinner with friends, meet them for a coffee.”
“I think a lot of freelancers assume they’ll have a business overnight, but it takes years as largely it’s reputation. It’s not just your skills. Potential clients will be asking themselves ‘how long have they been doing this for and why would I give my money to or put my trust in them’. Media coverage definitely helps in establishing your business.”
Currently, Ailsa in working on developing an app which will involve writing new hypnotherapy recordings and once underway will provide a new branch to her business.
In the future, Ailsa would like to focus her time on speaking at events and less on individual clients as this will allow her to reach and help more people.
You can access Ailsa’s hypnosis downloads online which range from £9.99 to £14.99. Her download titles include Take Control of Alcohol, Money – Increase your Wealth, Stop Worrying, Boost Confidence & Self Esteem and Good Night’s Sleep.
To learn more about Ailsa and the hypnotherapy services she offers, visit: https://www.ailsafrank.com
We hope that reading the stories of other freelancers can inspire your approach to freelancing and provide you with some useful tips.
Ailsa keeps herself protected as a freelance with Professional Indemnity insurance.
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