Unable to sit still and a person who simply cannot leave words alone, Rebekah Lambert is a content creating workaholic. She works as a freelancer marketer and copywriter as Unashamedly Creative, is attempting to change the conversation around women as Head of Disruption at Discordia Zine, and is hopefully helping the freelancers of Sydney feel a little more loved and connected through the monthly event, the Freelance Jungle. In her spare time, she’s often found chilling with her Labrador or trolling the Sydney Music scene for tasty musical morsels.
Mentally jam a sock in the mouths of people who knock your ideas, choose people who keep you both inspired and grounded, and give it a red-hot go.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
When you look around the room and realise your CD, cheese and booze purchasing takes up the majority of your income after you’ve paid the rent and the bills, you know you need to change. And that’s what I did. In 2010, I walked away from an ANZ role at a highly regarded Asian advertising agency in order to prove that in order for marketing to work, it needs to be both truthful and creative. I wanted to take the love for writing and marketing I have (yes, I love marketing, I’m a totally cracked out nerd on it and content creation) and use it to help people who were just as into their careers as I was.
There’s a big difference between simply working a job and waking up each morning with a little garden of contented and curly little ideas sprouting in your head. And I thought freelance would be my way of using my skills to help other crazy idea creators out…and you know what? I was right. Freelance is tough and it does have a lot of myths and misconceptions, and can be a lonely little road, so I started the Freelance Jungle to bring at least some of us together for some help and support.
Beyond that, I run Discordia Zine, which is about giving real women a real voice. My partner of 5 years, Rich, was constantly getting his ears melted as I spoke about how, as a woman who won’t be having children, is mildly disabled and is freelancing, I felt unrepresented by the media. You get to 38 as a woman and are straight with no plans to have a family and people start whispering because it’s still a little weird. I felt my story wasn’t getting told.
I looked around to my friends and realised a lot of women are the same but for various different reasons. So I recruited friends and friends of friends to come together to tell their stories in the hope of encouraging other women do the same.
How do you make money?
Freelancing, I work for clients on an ad-hoc project by project basis as well as offer retainers for services for longer periods of time. I find the startup people really dig having the retainer option because it means I can slot in as a part of their workforce to sort out their marketing, social media, research, content creation and events for an extended period of time to really help them get to a point where they can either take over from me or have me manage it on their behalf to free them up for things.
My aim is for steady income, not big chunks. I have found that offering reasonable rates, long-term assistances and also (for the most part) training my clients to the point of making me redundant means someone somewhere is always saying nice things about me. So the word of mouth and warm glowing feeling are totally worth more than having a fat bank account. That and the whole feeding my ego with “yeah, see that super cool idea, I helped with that” is generally what fuels long, happy days.
Discordia Zine doesn’t make any money, nor does the Freelance Jungle. But I run them because I see a genuine need in society for them. If someone who has the same values wants to help us out with that on a funding or support level, sure as there are penguins on an ice flow, I’m not going to slam the door in their face.
I do believe that it has to be ethical though. As an example, I got approached by a company that regularly offers copywriting for $2 an article to pay for a bar tab at the Freelance Jungle in exchange for coming to present their company. I’d rather pay for the group’s pizza and beer than have that bad taste in my mouth!
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
Right now I am working with the awesome collaborative consumption businesses Open Shed, eXpertLocal and StageBitz, writing awesome kids content for Bubble Gum Interactive, helping a very sexy new fashion company from Tasmania called Yeltuor make their online splash. That and a few other projects and encouraging a bunch of amazing women to continue to share their own stories through www.discordia.com.au are keeping me off the streets.
Events wise, I’m hosting quite a few experiences for eXpertLocal and the Freelance Jungle is on May 23rd if you want to pop by and have a quiet wine and a chat, too.
How do you make ideas happen?
I start in the corner with some eye of newt, a sturdy cauldron and a sacrificial goat and…
Seriously though, it’s all down to routine for me. I run parallel “TO DO LISTS” – one for clients, my projects and one for cleaning my house (yes, I work from home, no I haven’t gone crazy…yet!).
I play a massive game with myself to get 70% clearance rate of those lists before the Labrador starts bouncing around for his 4:30pm visit to the park.
Each idea I have is captured somewhere. I always have an A5 art diary with me. I have waterproof Aqua notes with pencil in the shower, my work space looks like a kid’s art camp threw up on it and I read maybe 20hours a week on marketing, content, copywriting and human behaviour to keep my brain sparkly.
I don’t do social occasions that I am not interested in. I refuse to do meetings and phone calls that don’t add to the workflow and I play music to suit my mood to keep the ebb up. Unless it’s for a creative purpose, I simply don’t do distractions or wasted time. I relax, but I’m never idle, if that makes sense?
What does your typical day look like?
Usually about 3000 to 9000 words, 50 emails, one giant bucket of coffee, 15 cds, absurd Labrador happenings and a heck of a lot of scribbling.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
On the freelance side, eBidding sites have given freelancers a bad name, and businesses the wrong impression. So I’ve had to spend a lot of time explaining to people that paying someone overseas $8 an hour for their website is no different from using a sweatshop to make sneakers it’s not sustainable it’s exploitation. And it’s not right.
For Discordia Zine, the main challenge is feminism is such a dirty word with some people they think my bra will spontaneously combust or I’ll start on a man-hating diatribe at the drop of a hat. However I turn that into proof that Discordia is needed. We need to change the conversation around women, what they do, who they are and what equality means so women aren’t ashamed to believe in equality and men don’t think we’re going to lightly roast their balls by the fire.
Another challenge that I find is universal there are a lot of people who think they know how to execute an idea, yet don’t do anything other than crush other people’s aspirations with their “good advice”. So what if you want to do more free work than someone else would, or if you have more personality in your blog posts? Who really cares if you work long hours or someone else thinks your idea is silly?
The reality is, there are a lot of people who don’t do anything with their life except cling to security and bawl about having an unhappy life, and they are usually the first ones to come up with 67 reasons why someone with an idea shouldn’t try. I think anyone who wants to do something a little different often threatens those who don’t want things to change. So screw ‘em. Mentally jam a sock in the mouths of people who knock your ideas, choose people who keep you both inspired and grounded, and give it a red-hot go.
After all, who wants “I listened to everyone else and was a miserable sod lamenting this fact in front of bad TV” on their tombstone? Not me!
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Out of the 25 or so on my “sometimes maybe” list, I would have to say the Sydney music scene could do with a gig pig review site. Somewhere that everyday punters could review independent musicians, their shows, EPs and CDs, and the live music venues about the place so that us music loving gig pigs could read that site and be assured we’re seeing a quality band.
The reason being is I found when I did the Sydney Live Music Survey, the majority of people won’t go out to see live music because they are worried about quality of the music. So if we had a peer-to-peer review site that wasn’t paid for that promoted the good bands, I think people would make use of it.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
One of my favourite freelancers is Kate Toon. She knows her stuff, she helps other freelancers out and she takes time to do the right thing by the industry, her clients, and her fellow freelancers.
The Loop and the Fetch are also kicking serious butt and it’s brilliant to see. Pip from the Loop is particularly exciting because the woman is the right kind of madness. She’s welcome at my Hatter’s Tea Party any day.
It’s also great to see Destroy the Joint grow from strength to strength. What started as a Facebook group appalled at Alan Jones’ comments has turned into something that for the most part is pretty positive and community spirited.
What about internationally?
I think it’s pretty amazing to see the reinvention of arts, cities and the creative scene on the whole in places like San Francisco. I love that marketing is going a bit mental and includes things like washing machine dance parties in New Zealand or people are transforming spaces into pop up libraries and gardens.
The truth is, I graze a lot of media. I listen to what people say on Twitter, I poke down inside rabbit holes looking for little bits of excitement for my client’s social media, and I follow those leads on journeys, sometimes for entire days. So what inspires me the most is the internet because I can get completely lost in delicious content whenever the mood takes my fancy. And anyone who’s regularly contributing to that, I admire greatly.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
People run business. People also create social change. Both are as intertwined or as separate as the people involved want them to be.
I actually think it’s a bit weird humans think business or social change happens outside them. At the risk of sounding like a mung bean chewing hippie, we invented those concepts, we participate in them and therefore we can change them if we so choose. They are our own creations, so why can’t they work together?
Both sides simply need to be open to change, which can be rather difficult as “the only person who likes change is a wet baby” and both business and socially responsible behaviour’s can be equally adept at clinging tenaciously to an established idea past the point of lunacy, but you have to have faith it’ll work out in the end.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?
Hubspot and Marketing Professionals- because you can learn a lot if you want.
This is many more than 3, but to an old salty of the internet world, choosing 3 is way too much of a Sophie’s choice.
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter?
@paulalexgray – the community director and all round cool guy from Space Heroes Universe.
@feesable – because crowdfunding an old bus, running it on cooking oil and using it as a digital arts lab to travel around in Australia is seriously innovative and clever.
@bronte_labrador – he’s my dog, so he told me to say that.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
I’m up for funding for Discordia, or like minded partnerships. I see there is great commercial potential in Discordia without losing the crux of its integrity, but while I am still freelancing, I simply cannot give the project all the time it deserves. We are about to start looking for a couple more regular contributors and a social media/Wordpress intern. We’d dig having a startup mentor, male or female, who believes in the project and sees the potential.
Regarding freelancing, more than anything I want to help you <insert cheesy sales chick smile here>. No seriously, I like working with startups and love the challenge learning new businesses brings, so you help me stave off old age and boredom by bringing that magic to me.
Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.
Ok- does anyone want to have a puppy play date with me? We can get our business nerd on while our dogs are idiots. Sounds pretty awesome, right?
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
Really loving the energy behind Hustle and Flow in Redfern. I also love any pub or establishment that allows creative artists, musicians and writers use their space, so have the biggest brain crush on Yulli’s right now.
Beyond that, there is something very sexy from knowing your local cafe (3 Blue Ducks) is trying to grow as much of their produce as they can in their backyard.
What is your favourite song by an Australian artist at the moment?
Has to be ‘Off his feet’ off the Coloured Heart EP by Found at Sea.
Really appeals to the film writing melancholic side of me. Simply beautiful music and I’ve done that walk down King st after having my heart ripped out, so can totally relate.
If you want to hear some amazing Australian music, you should also check out the High Tea crew. What the gang have done for singer songwriters in Australia is pretty freaking amazing.