Interview with Kerry Needs – Wellbeing Content Specialist
Hey- thanks for sharing your amazing freelance journey with us Kerry. Time to introduce yourself to the world!
Hi ! I’m Kerry Needs, a freelance writer and wellbeing content specialist.
I was a digital nomad until the pandemic hit, and then I returned to the UK.
What did the path to freelance writing and travelling look like for you?
I was working as a Content Manager. I’d had so many 9-5 marketing jobs, and they weren’t for me. I desperately wanted a different lifestyle, but I didn’t know how to go about it.
So I started thinking of ways I could work and travel. I read Marianne Cantwell’s “Free Range Humans” and Chris Guillebeau’s “The Art of Non Conformity“, which really inspired me to believe it was possible.
When did you start your business?
2015. I was working full time as a studio manager at a film company, and I’d dabbled in a bit of client work that year, but it was only when my maternity contract ended I decided to try it full time.
What was your first paid project and how did you find it?
It was writing for a friend’s wedding photography business. It was really nice he gave me that work out of nowhere, as it gave me faith that I could write for a living.
Do you have a specific niche?
I like to work with wellness and eco-living brands. These fit with my lifestyle and personality, so I know the market very well and can write for them in a way that meets their audience’s needs.
How do you typically find clients?
Through a variety of online platforms – Linkedin, freelancing sites, Facebook, and job boards.
I don’t cold pitch – although I should. I find it quite depleting to my energy levels.
How many clients do you work with at a time?
It depends, probably four or five at any one time. I tend to work with a couple long term, but I do lots of small jobs, so I have worked with probably hundreds of clients in my career now.
Do you set specific income goals for each month? If so, how do you work towards reaching them?
Yes I do, I review my income each week, and also do my accounts every month to see if I’m on track.
I find that if I hit my income goals, I don’t tend to work more – I take some downtime and do other things.
What are the biggest advantages of your business?
Without a doubt, the freedom and flexibility. It’s really amazing.
What are the biggest limitations?
The unstable income. It’s a double edged sword really, because you can earn as little or as much as you want. But you’ve always got that hanging over you, so you can never really switch off.
What’s your #1 challenge as a freelance business owner?
Finding work, without a doubt. I probably have about 4 dry spells a year, so four weeks of minimal or no work, but I find that with writing you can work with someone for six months and a year and then they decide to invest their money elsewhere.
What has been your biggest win in business so far?
Definitely my Medium writing. I got published in the Startup, Medium’s largest publication, with 500k followers, and have got clients off the back of my articles.
I’ve earned very little from it overall, but it’s been great for brand building.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I get up at 7am, I do meditation and sometimes morning pages, have breakfast and get dressed.
From 9-11am I work, and then at 11am I go out for my quarantine walk, usually listening to a podcast like Tim Ferris, Brene Brown or similar.
I have lunch when I get back, and work again from 2-4pm. Then I take a break, and work some more if I need to, or do admin.
I stop for the day around 5:30pm.
How do you juggle working and travelling? Any handy tips?
It’s tough! Forward plan, and travel on days when you don’t have any client work.
To be honest, I think the realities of nomad life are not as good as people make out. You make great friends, but you have to leave them when your visa expires, and usually you’re busy working Monday-Friday so you end up doing your sightseeing on weekends, although you can take time off on another day if needed.
Worst/funniest work + travel story?
Being airlifted from Bali in 2016 to Singapore after what I thought was a bug, but later turned out to be a neck injury and was in a wheelchair for four weeks. Scary times…
Favourite remote work place that you’ve travelled to so far, and why?
Ooh, I have to say Las Palmas! I’ve been there three times now, and I have friends there and know all the coworking spaces. For me it has the perfect combo of weather, beach, fun activities and a nomad community.
Behind that, I’d say I really loved Da Nang in Vietnam, then Chiang Mai, then Canggu.
Co-working spaces = yes or no?
Absolutely yes, if they’re done right with community events and activities. Restation in Las Palmas is a great example.
What are your top 3 recommended resources online for new freelance writers?
Medium – just for writing and getting to know other writers.
Twitter – lots of support and online chats.
Problogger – a good job board.
What are your goals for your business over the next year?
I’d like to make a comfortable $50k a year. That is really my only goal, I set up my business to support the lifestyle I want to have.
Where can people find you online if they want to connect?
My website at www.kerryneeds.com and @kerryneeds on Twitter.
And finally -what’s the #1 piece of advice you’d like to share with aspiring freelance writers who are reading this and thinking about following in your footsteps?
There is always the answer to anything you want to know on the internet. If you don’t know how to start, read, research, and learn!