BREAKING NEWS: Freelancing Doesn't Mean You Get Work For Free

Oh hello, yes it’s me — a freelancer. I’ve been doing this for two years now. I’ve been working in the world of marketing, branding, and social media since 2010 and decided in 2017 to branch out on my own. It’s so nice to meet you, would you care to take a seat and listen to my rant? 


No? Yes? Either way, sit down and listen up.

Freelancers are human beings with being hearts. Freelancers are human beings with emotions. Freelancers are human beings who offer services that simplify your life and make your business run better, more efficiently, and smarter. Freelancers are (mostly) outside of the box thinkers up for anything … adventure is our middle name. Freelancers are brave. Freelancers are smart. Freelancers hustle. 

Yet despite all of this, over and over again — clients stop responding or fulfilling their end of the contract. Is it because the contract seems too small to take to small claims court? Is it because the client considers the freelancer an employee he or she is no longer interested in? I don’t know but I do know that the percentage of incredible freelancers I know that have been not paid, ghosted, or paid incredibly late is astonishing. Why are freelance relationships treated differently than any other contractual business agreement?

I constantly hear “I can’t pay my rent unless X client pays me” and I constantly hear “I’ve emailed X client 30 times in the last 3 weeks without as much as a single response.” Freelancers are not magicians. You can’t come to us one day with all your problems and then go “OK fix them” and come back three months later being like “Why is all of this work not done?”  It’s not done because you didn’t hold up to your end of the deal. Freelance/contractor work is a partnership and it MUST be built around R-E-S-P-E-C-T (find out what it means to me).

The work is not done because YOU, the client, failed to deliver the deliverables for the project. The work is not done because YOU, the client, failed to approve what was presented in front of you. The work is not done because YOU, the client, has changed your mind so many times that the scope of work has gone from point A to point Who The Fuck Knows. 

I’ve worked a lot of jobs in my short life. Good ones. Bad ones. Weird ones. But nothing — nothing compares to the wilderness that is known as freelancing because every day, every client, every minute is different. Is the money coming? Is the money not? Am I gonna become evicted or am I about to become rich? Nothing is clear and what I’ve learned after two full years of doing this is that nothing will ever be clear in this industry. It’s blurred lines. It’s a lack of boundaries. It’s messy. It’s falling into the mud, over and over again, no matter what system you have in place.

As more people become a part of the gig-economy, the more saturated the pool of candidates is. As more people call themselves a freelancer, the more the je ne said quo enters the equation. Who is the real deal and who is two months out of college being supported by mommy and daddy to call themselves a full fledged agency?

I’m writing this right now with $74 in my checking account despite being owned near $10k from clients. I’m a 31 year old woman and I work my ass off for my clients and here I sit wondering if I will pay my rent on time and have money to feed my dogs. I’m writing this now because I am a human being and this is my salary. I’m writing this now because freelancers deserve rights, respect, and regard like anyone else would in an office place. 


Long story short — pay your freelancers (and do it on time) or do the work yourself. Taking advantage of someone you call a contractor or a freelancer is as bad as it gets in business and if you are one of these work vampires taking blood from the contractor you’re paying significantly less than someone you would in the office — stop. Just stop.

Enough is enough.

10 Things I Want To See Marketing Departments Do...Sooner Rather Than Later.

My first and only job in high school was teaching people how to put contact lenses into their eyeballs. My first internship in New York had me zipping between Brooklyn to the Lower East Side carrying everything from vases of flowers that weighed more than me and important marketing materials for the feminist icon Gloria Steinem. My second internship in New York was me working for a journalist turned Internet sensation who ate a lot of dates (she had serious poop problems) and she would send me on errands to pick up head bands and designer dressers for whatever event she was going to that night. My first job out of college was me sitting in a cubicle copywriting about coffee for 8 hours a day.

And then I got my big break. A once in a lifetime opportunity. A random Craigslist ad said “Small publishing house looking for a marketing assistant” and well, the rest is history — I was hired as a marketing assistant and quickly promoted to marketing manager for what is now known as one of the world’s best selling children’s products: The Elf on the Shelf.


Since then, I feel like I’ve seen it all. The good, the bad. Agency life. In-house life. A former cult meets ashram turned retreat. I’ve seen incredible teams with high energy and excitement and I’ve seen teams that were nothing but shells sitting under flickering fluorescent lights. And of course, I’ve experience firsthand of what it’s like to work for myself — I’ve done it successfully for the last two years.

I constantly get the question from younger, smarter marketers asking me “Where do you see marketing departments heading in the next few years?” And while I could give the usual “Digital! Social! Virtual reality! Content, content, content!” rallying cry — I’ve truly started to ask myself about where I see marketing agencies and in-house marketing teams headed.

So here is my list you didn’t ask for but definitely need to read:

Women dominating conference tables, director positions, and key decision making roles.


It’s time. It’s 2019. Throw out #MeToo and #TimesUp — this has nothing to do with it (do not think for a second I’m discounting the sexual harassment women have endured in the workplace though). What I’m talking about is badass women owning their expertise and not being held back because they have boobs or wear violet pant suits or want to have families. I want to see marketing adapt to women and our unique brains and ways of thinking and bend to us for a change. I want to see intersectionality applied to every conference table in America. Beyonce sings “Ok ladies, now let’s get in formation.” We’re already in formation. It’s these corporate offices that need to listen to Bey and get in formation if they truly want to move forward.

Shhh….baby boomers.

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I’m so tired of hearing how millennials are killing this and that. I’m tired of baby boomers using the word millennial as a derogatory term. I’m tired of baby boomers trying to quote whatever latest headline they read about millennials and avocados and spinning it into some Wall Street is going to collapse, oh my god how will we survive nightmare. Baby boomers, get used to millennials — we’ve certainly become used to you (especially when you need help converting a Word doc into a PDF).

Throw some color around.

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Maybe it’s my love for Taylor Swift or my obsession with the color violet, but I think marketing departments need to give into adding a little sunshine, a little sparkle, a little pizzazz on their floors and amongst their teams. A little glitter never hurt anyone. In fact, shiny things like glitter remind people of water (I have the data to back it up) and water is known for its calming effects. Listen, I’m not asking for a rainbow to throw up in every marketing office across the nation but I’m just saying … a little buttercup yellow never hurt anyone.



Yeah, I said it — SEO is for everyone. Whether you’re a webmaster, a social media strategist, a content creator, an Account Director, or an editor … everyone should be on board with the basic understanding of what SEO can do for a brand on the world wide web. I want SEO to be a part of the discussion, not just some side discussion with a few key people. I want long tail keywords and short keywords to have their moment to shine when it comes to digital work. And most of all, I want everyone to have a tab open every day on their laptop to Answer the Public because it’s one of the most invaluable tools I’ve discovered in the last year.



Every office should develop a dog friendly policy. Whether it’s dog friendly Wednesday or an everyday thing, the best marketing offices should have dogs roaming around like the good employees they are. I want my dogs in my office. I want someone’s random dog in my lap. I want dogs to run offices because they already run the world, right? But seriously — dogs are too pure for this world and between their silly antics, kindness, and unconditional love, they are the perfect antidote to working under fluorescent lights.

Shine Theory.

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If you’re not familiar with the Shine Theory, step into my office and listen up. Shine Theory is the practice of mutual investment with the simplest premise that “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” Shine theory is a commitment to collaborating instead of competing. I want to see Account Directors and Creative Directors leading together with the Shine Theory in mind. I want unique brains to collide and collaborate. I don’t want marketing agencies to operate in silos. Let’s cross over. Let’s make sure everyone is shining.

Just say no to Christmas cookies.


Maybe I’m alone in this but for fucks sake, companies — it’s time to eliminate holiday cookie parties. Listen, I’m sorry but I don’t need to stuff myself with 26 cookies and then vote on my favorite to celebrate the holiday season with my coworkers. Let’s move past this atrocity. Let’s just do a donut breakfast. Let’s just drink some champagne. Let’s leave the cookies for your neighborhood gathering.

1, 2, 3 … blast off!


Marketing teams - big or small - should be set up for success like they are about to go on a top secret journey to space for NASA. If teams feel like they have momentum, energy, and synergy to achieve their goals — it doesn’t just motivate them, but it makes them feel like they are a part of something bigger, something exciting. Instead of creating cubicle environments and chalk walks or buying a pinball machine for the office, give teams the impression that what they are doing is as important as launching a rocket...even if it’s just a Facebook ad campaign. Let employees float out in outer space as they work together on a common goal.

Content touches everything.


In the Lion King when Simba is told that everything the light touches is his — he ooes and awws over how massive the land is. Marketing agencies and internal teams need to look at content as the sun and know it’s going to touch everything. While a lot of companies have “Content Managers,” those roles cannot work alone. Whether they are getting strategy from someone else or working with a video producer, a true understanding that content has to be fluid in its creation is mandatory for success. Most agencies and internal departments aren’t operating like this and well, that’s why their content sucks.

So, with all that being said … do I expect marketing agencies and internal marketing companies to check all these boxes? No. But should they...eventually? Yes. If they care about the work they are doing and their employees and want to keep moving forward in the work they do and as a company itself— why not throw a little glitter or Shine Theory into the mix?

Yes, Instagram Should Get Rid of Likes

Rumor has it, Instagram is contemplating getting rid of likes. That noise you’re hearing right now is me screaming at the top of my lungs, “Hell fucking yeah.” 

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I love Instagram. In fact, it’s my favorite social media platform but as a social media strategist — I am constantly frustrated with the incessant obsession over what value an Instagram like actually brings to a client (or even a personal account). 

Solopreneurs, small business owners, and Fortune 500 marketing teams are always asking me the same questions: 

  • “Charlsie, how come we only got 2,000 on that last post? Shouldn’t we be getting more since we have 12,000 followers?” 

  • “How come the post on Thursday only had 40 likes? 

  • “Should we buy followers to get more likes on our posts?” 

Likes, likes, likes — it’s all client’s ever think about and while it’s a metric that has been put on a pedestal, it’s time for it to go away. 


Instagram shouldn’t just be about the number of likes a post has on it (or even the follower count). Unless you’re Taylor Swift (Taylor, if you’re reading this - call me) and you’re rocking an average of 1.6 million likes per picture — likes shouldn’t be at the top of the social strategy food chain for any brand trying to make social waves. 

Quality content should be the driving force behind any and every Instagram post, including what is shared in Instagram stories (if you’re a brand and you aren’t using Instagram stories to talk to your audience — we need to talk). Having a kickass social content strategy for Instagram and producing one-of-a-kind, unique content that aligns with your brand will naturally help produce the likes that brands so badly desire.

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Working with social strategists to produce meaningful content strategies and brand specific content is the key to not only upscaling your social presence but authentically connecting with those that already resonate and hold a relationship with your brand (or could potentially form a relationship with your brand). 

Yes, if this potential hiding of likes passes on Instagram, influencers and celebrities are going to be pissed but in the digital age — we have to adapt to what’s best for each platform as it grows and expands and it sounds like Instagram has the same stance as social strategists everywhere: “We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get.” 

As my client’s know - it’s all about strong content. So for those worried about Instagram potentially taking likes away, I raise you this question — are you afraid your content isn’t enough to speak for itself? If so, your priorities are all wrong and it’s time to reevaluate. 

Look at this potential Instagram change as a challenge worth accepting and showing your brand profile (or even your personal one) who’s boss.