Welcome to The Leap! For this IG Live series, Wethos CEO Rachel Renock sits down with entrepreneurs who took the leap toward working independently or starting their own project.
In this episode, Rachel sat down with Jazmin Griffith, multi-hyphenated creative and CEO of La Marca Consulting. After working in the agency world for over eight years, Jazmin is now a freelance social media director, content creator, and TikTok and Instagram influencer. She’s worked with big brands including Sony, Google, Facebook, Mazda, and more.
Watch the full interview here or read below to learn more about how Jazmin went from the agency world to running a freelance business, how she prices her social media work, and her thoughts on scaling and building a team.
Note: The following interview has been edited for clarity and length.
RR: Can you tell us a little bit more about your journey and starting your freelance business? How has it evolved over time?
JG: I started [my career] brand side at Porsche when I lived in Atlanta. I got hired on at the agency and back then it was, if you worked in social, you had to work at an agency. You had to get your foot in the door just to be a strategist in general. And so over the years, I’ve had a chance to really evolve that role and work with some really cool agencies. Then I got to a point where the pandemic hit. It was 2020 and the big need was social, digital, and creative.
And I had so many brands and recruiters in my inbox, like, “Hey, would you be interested in a freelance role for two months, 20 hours a week?” And I was like, I mean, I’m at home…I’m not really doing anything. I had this one job. I was already working for a remote-based agency. I’m like, “Why not?” And so what I loved about it was I was getting far more experience than I was getting working in the agency role, believe it or not. I felt like I was an expert on the team versus being just someone else that wasn’t being heard so much. And so I started to evolve from there and I was like, “Wow, I really love this.” Then I decided to just take the leap where I was like no more full-time. There’s so much business out there for freelancers, especially now.
And now it’s like when you scroll on LinkedIn or when you see recruiters when they reach out to you, a lot of times they don’t even say it’s a full-time gig anymore. They’re like it’s remote, it’s contract for five months, there’s a possibility for an extension. And Interestingly enough, I’m not really interested in an extension for full-time. I really just want to be contract.
Years later, that’s where I am now. Now, I get a chance to work across multiple lines of business, multiple industries, and multiple brands, just through freelance and social in general.
RR: In terms of being independent vs. working in a traditional agency world, how has that compared and what do you think is a big misconception people have about being independent?
JG: I think a big misconception is, is there enough work out there for freelancers? Yes. Another misconception is the pay. A lot of people feel like being a freelancer [means] the pay isn’t as great when in reality, what I’ve learned is that the pay is actually better as a freelancer.
From working as a freelancer and working in an agency, as I said before, I feel like I’m more valued as a freelancer because they’re going to come to me as an expert. You’re almost another agency to them or another third party or another vendor. They’re coming to you for your expertise versus when I worked at an agency, I didn’t feel like my voice was heard as much. I was just part of this gigantic team of 50 drinking beer on tap for thirsty Thursdays — it didn’t feel like anything.
I feel like you get more experience being a freelancer or consultant versus actually working in an agency. And I mentioned this to somebody the other day: I feel like within the last two years I’ve learned the most that I learned about social and digital and influencer marketing and digital within my freelance gigs than I did at the actual agency that I worked with just because of being just thrown in.
There’s no one micromanaging you, there’s no one asking you to jump on a call at 9:00 PM. You very much so make your own schedule as a freelancer and you’re guiding the conversation and the narrative of what’s going on because [clients] are coming to you for that expertise.
RR: I want to dig into how you grew your own business. There’s this age-old debate that if you work in social media, does that mean by default you should have a [big] social media following? You’ve obviously done an awesome job building both. In the early days, how did you manage your time and balance between client work and building your own personal brand?
JG: Funny enough, I was one of those people that didn’t have a following. The following that I have now I built it in the last year. Before then and when I was doing social years ago, I had the bare minimum, 1,000 followers. So I think it is a big misconception. I don’t think you need to have a huge, big following in order to show your proof of social. One, because, like you said, I’m so busy working on everyone else’s social. When do I have time to work on my own social?
When I did, I would spend time on the weekend. One of the things that I came up with when I was working at an agency was trying to do a Tip Tuesday. At the time, I was really trying to show my expertise of working in social, so every Tuesday I did some type of clip on Instagram or LinkedIn or YouTube, where I would upload some type of tip for Tip Tuesday. And it garnered some impressions. I mean, it wasn’t huge, it didn’t go viral or anything of that nature. But for me, that consistency showed [clients] she knows social, she’s passionate about social. If we were to hire her, this is a good thing.
That would be my advice to anyone now in general. Just because you’re working in social doesn’t mean that you have to have this big following to prove your worth. As long as you’re doing something and it’s showing that you’re passionate and you’re investing the time into whatever your passion is, brands do notice that or recruiters do notice that. I don’t think you need to have this huge following. I’ve been blessed to have one, but I kid you not I did not have this following before June. Before June, I was sitting at maybe 2,000 followers for the last couple years.
RR: I want to switch gears a little and talk about money. How do you approach setting your pricing across multiple different initiatives? How often do you typically update it or have those conversations with clients?
JG: When I came across your Instagram page, I was like, “Oh, my God, I am not charging enough.” It literally put me on a pedestal and made look at life completely different.
And the reason why I say that is because, when I started off as a freelancer, I feel like I didn’t know a rate. I didn’t know anything. So I just took the rate that people gave to me. I was doing like $40-45 an hour for 20-25 hours a week and then I had my full-time job. I’m like, “This is good, this is great.”
But then when I got to a realization, I was like, “Whoa, I’m I’m doing content calendars, I’m doing client communication, I’m doing email, I’m managing — my skillset is going up. And so as you’re doing multiple contracts and you’re working with multiple brands, you can raise the price.
For me, how I raised the price was per contract. As I went into a new contract, I upped my hourly rate. Now, two years later, I look at it a little bit differently. Now, I’m charging retainers because what I’ve learned is sometimes, if your client doesn’t pay you upfront, you’re ultimately doing work for free and you’re having to chase them down for payment. I never sent a contract before a year ago. These are all things that I really learned on the fly. Looking at how social and content and TikTok strategy have evolved from looking at your page two years later, you could really charge anywhere from $5-10K a month for doing this, and I was charging $40 to $45 an hour two years ago.
That’s how I look at pricing structure now. I look at the deliverables, the time commitment, the brand, understanding what their budget is, and understanding what do I have on my plate? What type of quality work can I deliver? And then I also look at the market. I’m in networking groups and creative groups where I’m asking what [people] are charging just to understand if I’m overpricing myself based on my skillset, or underpricing, or am I doing it just right?
It’s tough because people are scared to have that money conversation. I was one of those people. I was like, “What’s your budget? Okay, I’ll take it.” Versus now it’s being stern and saying,” Well, sorry, I’m charging this. When you get another budget or if your budget can be higher, then let’s come back and we chat about it.”
RR: I want to talk a little bit about scaling up because a lot of people hit this inflection point where their business is growing, but they’re only one person and can only do so much. But scaling up is intimidating and complicated. So I wanted to understand from you if you do have a team at all behind you. And if so, what were some of those inflection points in your business where you realized, maybe it’s time to start thinking about bringing in help.
JG: It was very tough to have the conversation with myself like, “Okay, you need to hire.” Because I’m one of those people where I want to touch my hands on everything. Not saying I’m a micromanager, but I just love to do everything myself. But I came to the realization, if I really want to have a business or an agency and bring on multiple clients, there is no way in the world I’m going to be able to do every single piece of content strategy myself. There’s just no way.
I end up getting two clients in and I was like, “Okay, you need to scale.” You just have to have this conversation. So [now], I have a social media manager and then I also have a business development manager, and I’m also bringing on two social media interns.
I’m really excited about that, but it’s also very, very scary because in my mind I would’ve never thought that I would be able to scale my business to the point where it is, but I’m very, very blessed to do that.
RR: What advice do you have for anyone who is taking the leap or doing freelance work for the first time?
JG: One, understand you and understand your time. I’ve had employees who worked for me that were balancing multiple freelance gigs. And I’m okay with that, but know how to manage your time and know how to communicate. Understand your time commitment and understand yourself. Understand if you can balance multiple projects at one time, the time commitments, different time zones, and feedback. Those are all crucial things as a freelancer that’s also working a 9-5 or just a freelancer that’s working on multiple projects.
If you’re not loving the opportunity or if you’re just tired and you need a break or you feel like it’s not a fit, I’ve done that before and it’s okay. No one’s going to punish you or slap you on the hand for it. It’s just putting your mental health and putting yourself first.
And thirdly, stay in communication. One of the awesome things of being a freelancer for me is a lot of the opportunities I’ve gotten are because of word of mouth or a reference from the brands that I’ve worked with. They’ve always wanted me to come back for another project. So always check in. Say, “Hey, how are things going? I see this campaign launched, it looks amazing.” It’s okay to still stay in contact in a contract. Even though it might have ended, they might have to bring you on when there’s a quarter with more budget.