Puglet Digital is officially in business.
I haven’t just been failing to update my blog for the last few months, y’see…I’ve gone full time into business for myself. You might have found this out the more fun way if you happened to receive a random box in the post with a (stuffed) pug in it over Christmas, or you might have heard on the grapevine via other means, but either way let’s get it out there in public: Puglet Digital now exists, properly, in the world.
Those who’ve worked with me before are probably aware that I’ve done odds and sods of freelancing on and off alongside the day job at various points. I’ve also been a senior manager, a consultant, a head of and a not-quite-director. So why now?
After nearly half a decade with one agency I got a call from a recruiter because it was a day ending in Y and this is part of life. At the time I was in a role that could be called nebulous at best, having reached that enviable but at the same time deeply trying stage of my career when I was able to float relatively freely around the agency to help and troubleshoot with all sorts of things, but had no real direction or long term plan for growth, so I decided what the heck and actually picked up. After a bit of back and forth I consented to an initial chat which turned into an interview which turned into me walking back into the house babbling like an idiot and my husband saying, in that droll but oh-so-observant way he does, you really WANT that job now, don’t you?
He was right, of course, for what on reflection turned out to be an absolutely straightforward reason: passion. I came out of chatting to that agency stoked, buzzing, positively vibrating with excitement, which felt foreign after months of nothing but vaguely drifting ennui and a growing feeling of being superfluous to requirements, of not fitting because I didn’t go into the hierarchy tree or want to go down the specified manager-to-director route that had been painstakingly planned out by the company’s HR team.
When I got the offer for the new place I practically cried down the phone, not just in delight but in relief. It gave me something I honestly thought I’d lost – a reason to care about going to work again.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be, and after only a few (amazing) months, Rebelhack made the decision to close up shop. It was heartbreaking, but it had to happen, and it took me to a strange new mental space. Suddenly the place I’d found to excite me about marketing again was gone, and I was adrift. I interviewed at a few places but nothing seemed like a good fit. I took a job at a more local agency to pay the bills – an agency I’d in fact hoped to work with for a while but the timing had never quite added up – only to find that it wasn’t right, either. I switched to part time to try and get some headspace, and keep looking.
Then the old leads piped up and got referred on “in case you’re doing any freelance work.” My network, which I didn’t even realise I had in any conscious sort of sense, came to life. Oh, you’re available? Could you do a project? We’ve got a site launch, can you help? We’d like a retainer, can you do it?
And suddenly I was excited again.
Have Pugs, Will Market
The beauty of going into business as Puglet Digital (named for no more scientific reason than I’m obsessed with my two girls) was that it gave me all the passion with none of the paperwork. Much like life at Rebelhack, in fact! I’ve switched to contracting with a stable base of in-house days for a lovely firm of tax specialists in Kent, of all things, where I’m able to develop junior staff on the marketing team while also stretching my own legs in newer directions like CRO and data strategy. I’m fortunate enough to have relationships with two other amazing up-and-comers from previous lives, Rebel and Prospect Knight, as a go-to organic consultant. The rest of the business is almost solely word of mouth and referrals, which in my mind is mostly what this kind of consulting malarky really should be. I’m incredibly lucky. I try never to forget it.
Am I aiming to have fifty-plus clients and a bunch of employees and offices? Not really. I’m quite happy flying solo (well, apart from the pugs) doing what I’m best at, at least for the time being. Only now I can do it without caveats and conditions. Does a client actually need an onsite specialist, or indeed should their strategy be leaning noticeably into organic at all at their current stage or in their particular market? Would they be better off investing elsewhere, for example in digital PR or offsite equity development, areas which are decidedly outside my capabilities for tactical execution?
Finally, finally I can tell them that. I’m not governed by a P&L sheet, not beholden to any budget except my own. I’m finally, finally free to really do everything I can to help my clients’ businesses, whether that means working with them directly or (politely and gently) telling them to bog off because I’m not what they need, and they should speak to someone about xyz instead. I refer on to other agencies, consultants or freelancers based on experience and trust, not kickbacks. I train in-house teams to reduce dependence on agencies for things that businesses at a certain stage shouldn’t need to be dependent on agencies for. I educate. I inform. I try to make organic marketing and SEO expertise real.
I’m having fun working. I’m doing it with my pugs as part of my brand. And for the first time in my life I’m making my own passion project, instead of looking for it to be supplied by someone else.
I’m grateful. I’m terrified. I’m excited. Above all, I’m passionate.
2019, and beyond…let’s do this.