As part of our Meet The Freelancer series of blogs, we interview many freelance professionals from a range of industries.
It’s estimated that there are 1.4 million British freelancers working across all sectors, a steady increase of 14% over the last decade.
PR, copywriting and other media disciplines lend themselves perfectly to freelancing. As a copywriter, a peaceful working environment is crucial for creativity and more easily attained at home, than it is inside a busy office.
Copywriter and PR professional, Martina Mercer, has been freelancing from her Devon home for the past 14 years. Working predominantly in PR, Martina has freelanced for well-established brands including Shell, Calpol, Wilko and Harrods as well as smaller brands like Willie’s Cacao, Tax Rebate Services, Kinda Kawaii and CBD Shopy.
In recent years, Martina’s freelancing has led to a number of awards including Working Mother of the Year (Super Achievers – Pitman 2014), Most Inspirational Business Woman (PPH 2016), Business with the Widest Reach (PPH 2017) and Marketing and PR Excellence (Venus Awards 2019).
Explaining what inspired her to become a PR and copywriting freelancer, Martina describes being a “latch-key kid” growing up and longing to spend more time with her mother. Martina didn’t want her children to have the same experience and sought a job where flexibility was achievable, while still earning a steady wage.
In a report by the PRCA (Public Relations and Communications Association), it was found that in comparison with other professionals in the PR industry, freelancers are most likely to have dependents, suggesting that freelancing is a highly desirable route for parents like Martina in the communications industry.
Following her divorce 14 years ago Martina, who was at the time working as a cleaner, decided she needed to embark on a new challenge. With the desire to be the best possible role model to her children, she began studying towards a degree in English.
While still studying, a few years after becoming divorced, Martina returned to the dating scene as a single parent and used these experiences as the basis for a new blog which consequently gained a lot of attraction.
Starting out in the industry, Martina says: “I decided to pitch for a job writing articles for 80pence each – per 500 words. I won the job and couldn’t believe I would be paid for doing what I loved. As my portfolio grew, I was offered more and more money for my blogs and articles.”
Upon completing her degree, Martina broadened her skillset further with copywriting training. This allowed her to expand her services to writing web copy, press releases and product descriptions for various brands. Martina also gained a HND in psychology and utilises this knowledge within the marketing services she provides.
Martina adds: “I also trained with Google on SEO as I saw so many clients fleeced by this invisible service. It was a natural progression after that into PR and Marketing. I was promoted to these positions by clients I worked with due to my contacts in the media (from my freelance journalism), and my experience in the consumer psychology field.”
78% of the UK public think that freelancing and flexible working helps to promote a good work/life balance which is something that Martina loves about freelancing. She says: “I love being able to work from anywhere and I adore being my own boss. I love that I can do all the school runs and still put in an eight-hour working day while cooking a meal for the children’s tea and being there for all their important milestones.”
Working on PR across a variety of brands, Martina frequently pitches to journalists and editors on her client’s behalf and gains a 95% success rate, with clients featuring in well-known national publications.
In her initial years as a PR and copywriting freelancer, Martina relied on the job posting site PeoplePerHour, which provides businesses with access to freelance workers. Every day, Martina would set herself a target of pitching to 10 buyers before 10am, in order to win work.
Nowadays, with a steady number of long-term clients, Martina spends the majority of the working week freelancing from her home office though when working for Willie’s Cacao, she often visits the chocolate factory to collaborate with business owner, Willie Harcourt-Cooze, who featured on Channel 4’s fly-on-the-wall documentary. Working from the factory allows Martina to create videos for social media and collaborate on new marketing techniques.
Discussing the value of social media, Martina agrees that a social presence is very important for a freelancer and recommends concentrating on inbound marketing over outbound marketing. While her personal social media accounts have taken a back seat as she pays focus to her client’s social presence, she consistently maintains an SEO-optimised website and sees the benefits of signing up to an array of freelancer marketplace and business directories, for the purpose of your profile being visible to business searches.
would be to have a page a day diary (I know it sounds simple) and set yourself targets, such as pitching to 10 people before 10am. Write it down, tick them off and make sure you have a to do list every day. Without a boss, it’s easy to lose motivation as there’s no one to motivate you. Ticking tasks off a list gives a great sense of achievement that you wouldn’t usually receive as a freelancer. On top of this, I would suggest outsourcing the jobs you hate. You’ll make a lot more money doing tasks you enjoy which will more than pay for the extra help.
is winning the Working Mother of the Year Award which truly took me by surprise. I’d been so focused on developing my career so I could get to the point where I can relax (I’m still not there) and bringing up the children, that I didn’t consider my story to be one that would inspire others. This, along with the recommendations and testimonials I’ve received have been my greatest achievements.
my dad. He was a businessman from the age of 14. I remember pointing out a gorgeous house and telling him I’d love to have a house like that one day. His response was, “you can have anything you want as long as you’re willing to work hard for it.” I don’t have the house yet, but I’m working towards it every day.
To find out more about Martina and her work, visit martinamercer.com.
We hope that reading the stories of other freelancers can inspire your approach to freelancing and provide you with some useful tips.
We wish you the best of luck with your freelancing and whatever you do, make sure you’re protected in case something goes wrong.
For more information on how you can stay protected with freelance insurance, call our friendly team of experts today on 0333 321 1403, or click to get a quick online quote in minutes!