Case Study – Freelance Marketing Consultant

Lorna quickly progressed into marketing after studying English and Professional Writing at University. Following several years as marketing manager in the public sector, Lorna decided to take a career break to have children.

In order to manage the balance of raising children and continuing her marketing career, Lorna decided her next step was to make a move into freelance marketing and communications consultancy.

View Lorna Walkden's profile on LinkedIn


What attracted you to a career in Marketing?

Having experienced working in marketing before I studied it (see question below) I found the work really varied and interesting and this made me decide to pursue a career in this area.

Tell us about your route in Marketing? 

I fell into marketing really after leaving University. I graduated from Sheffield Hallam with a 2:1 in English Studies and Professional Writing.  From there, I wrote to local companies looking for work and was offered a placement at Red Tape Studios, a music technology training college.  My role was to promote and host forthcoming open days and I loved it so decided that was what I would like to do.  Once my placement ended I became a Marketing Assistant at an advertising agency.

How did you make the move into consultancy?

I was a Marketing and Communications Manager for a Sector Skills Council when I left to have my second child in 2011.  During my maternity leave, my husband David and I decided that the best thing going forward would be for me to take a career break and focus on looking after our young son and new baby so I resigned from my job.  Fast forward to 2013 and my son started school and my daughter started pre-school so the time was right for me to return to work.  However, I wanted to be able to drop the kids off in the morning and be there to collect them again.  Not many jobs offer this flexibility so I decided to set up on my own.  Initially, I contacted friends and ex-colleagues and got work through word of mouth and it went from there.

Briefly talk us through a typical day as a marketing consultant

Wake up, get the kids ready for school, choke down a cup of coffee and then walk to school!  Once they are both settled, I jump on a bus to go and work in the office of a client.  I do this once a week for this particular client as it’s a great way to stay connected to what is happening and lets me catch up with them and make sure my activity is on track with their objectives.  I head off about 1pm, back on a bus over to where I live then I set up camp in a local café and continue working on my laptop while grabbing something to eat.  I use this time to catch up on emails and see what’s happening on social media.  At 3, I collect the kids and head home.  Catch up on a bit of housework and then it’s out for swimming lessons for a few hours.  Back home and once the kids are in bed, I log back on to write some copy for a design agency who works for a local shopping centre.  This is a really enjoyable piece of work – writing about shopping!  Once I’ve finished, I log off for the day.  On the days when I don’t go into the office, I work from home or attend meetings with other clients – existing and potential.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your marketing career and how have you overcome them? 

I think the biggest challenge was when I’ve had a career break to have my children.  Marketing moves on so quickly, it can be easy to feel left behind.  When I left to have my son, Twitter was only just emerging.  I came back to work and everyone was on it…except me!  Therefore, when I left to have my daughter I made a conscious effort to stay in touch with what was happening.
What would you describe as the personal strengths and assets that have ensured success in your career? 

I have always been really well organised and this is key for me to make a success of my career.  My day is so busy and I have so many things to juggle that I have to plan my time really well to ensure a work/life balance.

If you could give a single piece of advice to someone looking to get into their own marketing career what would it be? 

Get stuck in!  Gain as much experience as you can.  Write to companies you would like to work for.  Take every opportunity to learn as many skills as you can.  Once you’ve learnt the basics you can apply them to any sector.

What advice would you give to someone looking to become a consultant?

Tell everyone what you are planning to do.  I once got a piece of work writing copy for a new website from someone whose wife I had got to know at a mother and baby group! Also, don’t do work for free.  It’s very easy to meet with a potential client and get really excited about the work and give them all your ideas before you’ve agreed a price.  Finally, research going freelance online.  There are some great sites and books that offer really helpful advice.