Working with a Brand as a Freelancer with Darbi Masters of FreshBooks

Darbi Masters attended her first FinCon last year and discovered that connecting with the right brand can actually change your life. The best part? Though she thought she was out of her niche, she used her brand expertise and media knowledge to connect in a surprising way. We sat down to learn more.

How to Meet Brands for the First Time

Perhaps the most important takeaway from Masters’ interview is this: be willing to meet people. The more people you meet, the more chances you have to form connections. Be open to meeting people in different avenues of media, even if it’s outside of your specialty.

Even if you think you know how a meeting might go, move forward with it. Be genuinely interested in striking up conversations. Make the effort to learn what people do and why they do it.

How to Interact When You’re Looking for Freelance Work

As a freelancer, there’s a good chance your goal in meeting people is to land freelancing gigs. Much has been written about how to do this. Masters shares an approach that she takes, saying it’s all about getting to know people. Specifically, she recognizes that many people are their own brand. That means that when you talk with them, you want to find out how they run their brands.

Instead of making the conversation about her, she focuses on asking questions and listening. And it isn’t just about the first question you ask. It’s all in the follow-up questioning as well. Asking people, “Why do you do that?” really helps Masters get more of a feel for what makes them tick.

Eventually, if she learns that there is a need for them to start a podcast, or if they already have one established, then she shares her expertise. This strategy helps her forge new relationships, and it worked really well at last year’s FinCon. She initially felt that she wasn’t the target attendee, but she quickly learned how incorrect that was.

Connect with Brands on a Personal Relationship Level

Before landing her gig with FreshBooks, Masters looked to have conversations and build relationships with many people. Still, she knew that she was, in fact, looking for more work. She decided to be more proactive and started reaching out to people who are directly involved in podcasts. Within minutes of one short conversation, she was connected with someone from FreshBooks and was well on her way to scoring her dream gig.

These are some of the steps Masters took when she started working with a new brand.

  • Be open – Masters suggests really listening while you get to know people. She also suggests that you communicate clearly and use specifics.
  • Follow up with email – After the initial meeting, Masters had an email waiting for her in her inbox by the next day. She promptly replied.
  • Be ready to send work samples – The people you connect with are going to want to know more about your work. Describing what you do is great; showing examples of what you’ve already done is better.
  • Understand that things can flow fast – Masters couldn’t believe how quickly things spiraled from the initial conversation to starting her freelance work with FreshBooks.

Masters shares other reminders about connecting with brands. Working with brands is not about negotiating. It’s about making genuine connections that allow you to get to know the brand and the person who is associated with it.

Learning how to work with the right brand changed the trajectory of her business. Essentially, she was able to turn down several opportunities and quit one job because of this new freelance assignment with FreshBooks. Now Masters says she is moving forward in a direction she really wants to head. This opportunity helped her realize how much she enjoys content development while staying in audio and radio.

The ROI Is There When Working with a Brand as a Freelancer

It can be costly to start working with brands. Whether you are in finance or not, it is easy to become hyper-focused on the expenses. Airfare, lodging, and event tickets add up. Taking time away from work can be especially costly. However, Masters is quick to point out that the ROI is certainly there.

Even now that she has her dream gig, she still plans to attend events in the future. Her focus now isn’t looking for clients. Instead, she wants to connect and network with brands, freelancers, and entrepreneurs. She can mine these connections for inspiration for her podcast.

Content Development: Personal versus Brand Content

Masters says she loves to develop her own content for her personal passions. Her awareness of the things that she is passionate about helps her create better content for brands. She knows what gives her inspiration and joy. That translates into the content she creates for brands.

For instance, she chose her work with FreshBooks for its entrepreneurial focus. Knowing that she loves to help others succeed when they first strike out independently, she enjoys the fact that she can combine this interest with the mission of FreshBooks.

A Look Inside the Dynamics of Freelancing for a Brand

When putting out content for a brand, there is constant communication. Masters is fortunate that she and her co-producer share a similar vision and passion. Continued dialogue allows them to leverage that and support the brand.

Additionally, Masters understands the brand’s goal. She isn’t an employee of FreshBooks; she contracts for them, instead. Even so, she acts within their mission. Masters knows that the goal is creating helpful resources for entrepreneurs. Instead of focusing on marketing the brand exclusively, she is working with FreshBooks to create helpful resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses. To do this, she researches and writes around meaningful topics. Each podcast is a thematic episode with interviews or additional content that allows listeners to dig deeper into that topic.

By creating work that aligns with the brand’s mission and her own passions as a creative, Masters truly has landed the gig of her dreams even if she didn’t see it coming at first.

To listen to the whole interview with Masters, listen to episode 71 of the Money & Media podcast. Plus, hear a special interview with Lacey Langford, The Military Money Expert ®, about micro-influencing.

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About Our Hosts

Joe Saul-Sehy is the co-host of the Stacking Benjamins personal finance podcast and operates the Stacking Benjamins blog.

Bethany Bayless is a public speaker and emcee who co-hosts the podcast The Money Millhouse.

Join Us for #FinCon19

Want to meet with brands to explore those relationships? Join us for FinCon19 September 4-7 in Washington D.C. Register for your pass today!


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