26 OCT - 2022
The evolution of turning the boring 9-5 into independence and doing what you love.
If your TikTok algorithm hasn't introduced you to this face, then let us be the ones to do that for you. Caitlin Wiig, Auckland-based public relations consultant, makes fun and relatable content on the daily. Caitlin has had a wild last 12 months growing her career and community and documenting it all for over 1.3 million viewers. We love her for being a true girl boss through continuing her career in marketing and PR while still taking us along with her everyday life. This year, Caitlin took the plunge into full-time freelance work, something that many creatives across the world have opted for amidst the pandemic.
Being your own boss has its advantages and disadvantages. New Zealand has seen a surge across industries as many have tied up their contracts to dive into freelance work. Flexible hours, being your own boss and writing your own weeks can seem appealing to many. We had the opportunity to sit down with Caitlin over coffee to talk about her experience in the field so far.
Caitlin, your daily vlogs have taken OFF this past year. Can you touch on how this last year has been for you?
It's been amazing. I started in lockdown in September of last year as I wasn't working very much, and there wasn't much to do. I was spending a tonne of time on TikTok and watching a tonne of Australian girls with their hauls and vlogs, and I realised no one in New Zealand is doing those types of videos and sharing that kind of level of their life. So I was like, hey! I could do this, and it could be lots of fun. I was online shopping heaps, and I thought, ‘may as well do something else with my packages’ and started posting haul videos and vlogs.
I started my upload in lockdown, so I wasn’t doing much other than leaving the house to go and find delicious almond croissants. Then, these videos started to do well, and I thought, ‘oh! I could be onto something here.
I noticed that you made the call to cut down on your daily posting - which is great. Do you want to touch on that a little?
I have been doing daily vlogs since September last year. There's been maybe five days in that timeframe where I haven't done one. So in the past month, I have been feeling a little bit tired from it, as it's kind of become a chore. Every upload has felt repetitive because a lot of my days are repetitive. When I first started, I said to myself, “The second I start feeling over this, I am going to stop.” My friend said I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and urged me to take a break. I think it’s nice to have the time to create more of a variety of content for people to watch. On my exciting parts of the week, I will be content to vlog, but I want to pepper in more styling and haul videos which I enjoy doing too.
“In these situations, I say what is the worst that can happen.”
This year, you took the plunge into full-time freelance work. What helped you make this decision? Any regrets?
Absolutely no regrets. It has been amazing. I had considered going freelance back in 2020. I had finished up a job with a PR agency and I wanted to move in-house with a brand and do their marketing and PR. But at the same time, while I was looking, I had a couple of people approach me asking if I would freelance for them - and I wanted to! I loved the idea, but I was slightly scared of it. I just hadn't grown enough as a person and in my career yet. So earlier this year, when I went full-time freelance, it was the right time for me. It was at the same time that my TikTok and Instagram were kicking off, so I just said fuck it, let's go freelance.
What do you look forward to when starting a new job?
The number one thing that pops into my head is the people. I am a big people person and I love meeting new people and making connections. Especially as a freelancer, which is huge. Every job I have worked on as a freelancer has resulted in a referral to another job, which is amazing. On the flip side, I enjoy PR, so just having the opportunity to work for different types of businesses and coming up with story angles for them and seeing that come to fruition for your client.
Finding the balance between your needs as well as the client's needs can be difficult. Do you have any tips for creating boundaries?
As a freelancer, your time is your number one asset. It is the most valuable thing you have. Because you are charging by the hour, how you use that hour is so important. It ties in with having a good schedule, being organised, planning your weeks, planning your hours, all of it. Either do it manually with a diary or use an online tracking application to help you view everything. At the end of the week, sit there, and say okay, so I had these hours allocated to each client. How much time did I spend on each task?
If a client comes to you with five extra jobs, but you only have two hours left with them, you need to be firm and explain that I have used X amount of my time on Y task, so I will need to charge an additional Z. As a freelancer, you must be firm and stand up for yourself so your time remains valued.
How does one start freelancing? Should one take any job and see what happens, or should one make a plan?
I would reach out to everybody you know. Any contact you have anywhere, send a message saying, “Hey, I just started freelancing…would love to go for coffee and chat with you about how I could help you out with your business.” If it’s a situation where you don't know anyone, get on LinkedIn and DM people. Even the fact that I have on my LinkedIn bio that I am a freelancer leaves me with so many recruiters in my DMs. Having ‘Freelancer’ in your bio will help you a lot. I would also pop a post up saying, “Hey, I am freelancing, open for work. Let me know if you know someone is looking,” as well as targeting the right people and companies that will get your foot in the door. Just send them a DM.
Describe your typical working day. What do you enjoy most about your work?
So, at the moment, I have recently taken on a regular freelance gig which has been fantastic for me because it’s guaranteed work and consistent. I’m still freelancing, so I don't get the employee benefits, but I have an office to go to and some structure. I am there from 9-2 Monday - Wednesday, meaning the rest of the day is for me. So I have the time to do work for my other clients in my space, and I can also invest more time into my social media, from which I have started to make an income. That's the beauty of freelancing. You can write your own weeks, and it’s been the biggest game-changer for me.
So you feel like you’ve nailed it?
Yes! I can choose when I work and where I work. If I need a day off, I can swap my things around. Plus, I’m my own boss.
What are the common misconceptions that people have about the work you are doing?
I think there are a few. There is a conception where people think a job is a 9-5 in an office or with a more traditional structure. Beauce there is no guarantee of money, I get that it is risky. But you can minimise that risk a lot. For example, I have learnt recently the importance of having a rainy day saving in case I hit a lull period, or one of my main incomes stops.
There's a misconception that freelancers don't work hard because we're working less. I argue that we work harder. Every minute of our day has to be on the game. It’s concentrated work. I sit there going ‘okay, I am literally charging for this minute, so what am I doing with this minute?’
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I am just going to throw that entire question out the window and say that I don't plan 5-year or 10-year goals. I plan 1-year goals. A year ago today, I would never have imagined that I would be in this position. I've got a whole TikTok and Instagram career and I’m freelancing! I would have never imagined a year ago that I would be here or make a goal to be here. But here I am loving my life.
I won the green card lottery this year, and for the past four years, all I have wanted to do is move back to New York. But since I won it six months ago, I’ve realised, ‘oh shit. I don't know if I want to do that anymore. My life is so good here, I love my work, and I’m surrounded by the best group of friends I’ve ever had.’ I feel very comfortable here, so during this period of re-internalizing everything, I’m trying to figure out if that's something I still want, or if I want to let go of that dream. I am a big planner, but I don't plan long-term.