ana matei

Ana Matei
Digital Marketing Consultant
“Always be optimizing!”

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1. Who are you, what you do and when did you know that freelancing is the life for
you?

Back in 2009, I was working a corporate job – Marketing Manager, and I started feeling unsatisfied without knowing exactly why. One thing I did know was my ability to do much more. After a few months, I realized that the actual dissatisfaction came from not having a specialty, some practical knowledge that would bring me closer to the freedom of working on my own.

So I quit my Marketing Management job in November 2009 and, one month later, I started a lower paid/lower grade job that would later lead me to the goal of having my own business. I also started a blog about SEO and online marketing, and became active on social media.

6 months later, in May 2010, I had my first client and so my consulting business started.

It’s been almost 8 years now, and I think “freelancing” might not be the appropriate word for describing what I do. That’s because freelancing usually means something you do for a year or two, in between two jobs, which is not my case.

2. What is your work (hardware, tools, gadgets, etc.) setup?

As a Digital Marketing Consultant, I need a laptop, a smartphone, great internet connection and a few online and desktop tools.

On top of that, I need a network of people to keep me connected to the online business industry in Romania, where my
“headquarters” is.

 

3. What are the tools of your trade? (skills, instruments, methods, routines that you need in order to do your job properly)

Oh, there’s such an extensive range of skills to do this job properly that I don’t know where to start.

For me, becoming a full stack Digital Marketer meant investing 3 to 5 years in acquiring in-depth knowledge for each important specialization within the field (web design, optimization, copywriting, psychology and behavior economics, etc).

But apart from knowing the job, I think it was also important to learn project management, business strategy, and the administrative side of any business (e.g. maintaining a steady cash flow).

When it comes to routines, I need to sit down at my desk in order to work, and no other table will do. 🙂 Of course, I had to work at times when traveling, but it didn’t feel right.

Also, some parts of the job can be done over the email and phone, but since I’m more of a technical Marketer (website optimization and conversion rate optimization), I need to sit down at my desk and work without interruptions for a few hours at a time.

Another must-have routine is to constantly learn, either to develop an already acquired skill or trying a new one.

4. What are the ups and downs of freelancing?

Having my own business (I don’t look at it as freelancing) means being responsible and disciplined.

Therefore, being a freelancer or owning a business doesn’t involve having the freedom of working when you want, but when it’s needed, when your clients require your services.

There are lots of ups, of course, like having enough time to actually live your life and travel more than most people, but that happens after 5 to 6 years into the business, after you’ve already pulled years of all-nighters.

To sum up the perks: crafting the life you want, earning more than an employee, sometimes choosing your clients and co-workers and having time to pursue your dreams.

The downs: a lot more responsibility for everything, including painful failures, thinking about your business all the time (even on holiday), and living with “quitting is not an option” in mind.

5. What is the setup that keeps you healthy and sane?

When you’re passionate about what you do, you tend to quickly become a workaholic, taking on more clients than you can handle and then pulling 12 to 17 hours of work a day.

So after more than 5 years of being a workaholic, a  I thought necessary for building up a business, health and sanity become a business issue you need to solve.

Therefore, almost 3 years ago, I became a constant traveler, taking a few days each month to see another corner of this beautiful world. That helps me maintain a well-balanced life.

On the health side, I’m investing time in cooking proper meals, going to the gym once or twice per week, and sleeping 7-8h a night.

These 3 elements recently entered my routine and were the hardest behaviors to adopt, after almost 7 years of disregarding their importance while focusing on my business.

At the beginning, you don’t realize their importance, so you take too many shortcuts in order to minimize the time spent focusing on yourself (take out/restaurant meals, skipping gym, sleep deprivation). That inevitably takes a toll on your health and your
business suffers as a result.

6. What are your biggest frustrations?

Every job that involves managing a team of people brings lots of frustration, but I’ve developed some methods of dealing with it, even if applying them is an energy drainer. Also, some clients are pretty difficult to handle. I value loyalty and reciprocity a lot, and those are pretty rare qualities in business people.

On the other hand, ignoring my overall health during my first 7 years into the business is my main frustration right now, for which I’m currently paying my dues.

There’s a fear of saying no to clients that dominates the first few years in any business, and it usually makes you trade your immediate well-being for long term gains. It turns out those immediate well-being elements become long term health issues.

7. What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’m reading “The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman and trying to finish “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari ( – spoiler alert – it gets boring in the last part).

8. What should you start now that will have a positive effect on your life 5 years from now?

I think that starting any other business or a new course/training will be rewarding 5 years from now.

Being constant in your actions and persevering in any other business or learning / perfecting a skill always has positive effects on the long run. People rarely realize the importance of long term goals, mainly because “now”/what’s right in front of you is always more tempting to consider.

But my concern has always been with what's next, so I’m working on that – a future business in travel and learning more about photography.

9. What thing from today would you like your 10-years- from-now self to remember?

Always be optimizing! Time, costs, work, things you own (clothes, items in your home), travels – everything can be optimized to reduce waste.

Also, I would love to remember my travels. I think traveling is an underestimated activity because so many people do it only for fun. But it’s such a great learning method and also a way to get out of your information bubble and put things into a wider perspective.

10. Let people know where they can connect with you.

Nowadays, you can connect with me on LinkedIn for business enquiries and on my blog or Instagram for travel or photography related questions.

 

Be it digital nomading with full time travel or location independence with a home base and travel, what we have at the end of the day is a lifestyle of freedom and feeling at peace. Surely this lifestyle will change and evolve over time, but for progress to happen inspiration is crucial. For most of us it all comes down to getting over fear and attachment to comfort. And this happens when we share knowledge, experiences and ideas that turn the unknown into opportunities to learn, grow and feel alive.

So if you want to share from your life of freedom, feel free to connect with us via e-mail:
claudiu.jojatu@gmail.com
cristina.tupita@yahoo.com

You can also read some very useful articles in the Info Point Section.

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