Celebrating milestones on National Freelancers Day

As part of the 2024 National Freelancers Day celebrations, we invited IPSE Ambassador Luan Wise to share her freelancing journey, and some key milestones.

After six years working agency-side, and four years working in-house, I set up my freelance business in September 2011. My former employer was my first client, which felt like a seamless transition and a ‘soft launch’ into a new way of working. I continued both roles for almost three years before I ‘let go’ and fully embraced working for myself.

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I’ve now been working in marketing for over 20 years; after studying business studies for my first degree and completing post-graduate qualifications with the Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM), Institute of Sales Promotion (ISP) and Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM). I achieved Chartered Marketer status in 2012 and was nominated as a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing in 2017.

I’ve had several ‘pinch-me’ moments throughout my career including working directly with LinkedIn and Meta and after self-publishing my first two books, getting signed as an author by Bloomsbury Business in 2023.

Every new client is an important milestone to celebrate. Most of my marketing consultancy and social media training work is generated via referrals, which is a dual success; I am always appreciative that my network shares my name in relevant conversations.

As a freelancer, my biggest learning has been the value of networking, and staying visible – I do this daily via social media. I focus time on making new connections and sending messages to nurture existing relationships. This doesn’t feel like ‘work’ but it’s key to new business development and uncovering opportunities.

One of the toughest parts of running your own business has to be the constant focus on the future and what’s happening (or not) next, making it all too easy to forget to enjoy the moment and recognise what you have achieved. A mentor once advised me to write down ‘challenges and successes’; I do this every month, aiming to avoid repeating the challenges and using the success list as a reminder on tough days. I also have a ‘happy emails’ folder to look at when I need a boost. Self-motivation is key when you’re working solo.

The only goals I set within my business are financial ones; I record my income and forecast what’s coming up. I know what I need to earn (and what I would like to earn). I’ve never had plans to scale by building a team around me, although I do have a number of collaborative partners.

I’ve learned that I perform best at work when I’m doing what I enjoy and working with people who respect and value what I do. I have learned to say no to opportunities when I know the ‘fit’ isn’t right. Receiving recognition for my work is something I value hugely. Whether it’s the annual award of Chartered Marketer status or a book review on Amazon, each accolade is a milestone and reassurance that you’re doing things right – after all, there’s no annual appraisal process when you are self-employed!

The ‘Covid Years’ and lockdown were tough. It’s not a milestone to remember fondly, but it did (and still has) impacted my business. In 2024, I finally feel like I’m back to where I was in 2020. There were lessons to be learned, particularly about the ability to adapt when the world around us forces change upon us. I made a number of life-changing decisions, including swapping my car for a campervan and kayak.

Over the past 14 years, I’ve been privileged to work with household names, growing businesses, and amazing leaders, and I’ve travelled the world to record training courses and speak at events.

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When I set out on my freelancing journey, I thought it would be like taking on a new job role, but my experience has been far from that. Working with a range of clients and having a mix of work that involves hands-on support, training, and writing (I’m about to start on my sixth book) means each day is different. This mixed-model approach has also helped in terms of running a sustainable business and provides me with daily opportunities to keep learning and developing. Staying up-to-date with news and best practices is an important part of the work I do – both for myself and my clients. Since 2020 I have been curating and sharing resources about changes in the world of social media on a single source website, www.thelighthouse.social.

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If I were to offer one piece of advice to someone considering freelancing, it would be to ensure you have the right people around you. Whether that’s a partner, a friend, or an industry peer – it’s important to have support and a candid ear when you need advice. I have a scheduled weekly call with an accountability buddy, and I miss it if we can’t make it happen. We affectionately call it our ‘rant and re-set’ session.

Reflecting on my freelance journey, I realize how each milestone, big or small, has contributed to my development and how it’s important to stop and enjoy the moment. I’ve had some amazing successes and overcome some challenges – with the support of organisations and professional bodies such as IPSE. Freelancing is not easy, but it’s hugely rewarding and 99.9% of the time I wouldn’t want to do anything else!”

Luan regularly hosts live online events that you can find listed in the IPSE events directory. To find out more about Luan visit www.luanwise.co.uk or her social media profiles:

linkedin.com/in/luanwise | twitter.com/luanwise | instagram.com/luanwise |

facebook.com/luanwise | tiktok.com/@luanwise

Meet the author

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Luan Wise

Chartered marketer and independent consultant

Luan loves to share her passion for marketing. This is done by speaking at events and conferences, through social media (mainly Twitter and LinkedIn) and also her blog.