Start Freelancing Full-time after Being Laid Off

Bradley Jacob: Absolutely. Why don’t we just start out with an overview of you just professional career kind of what you’ve been doing to date?

Kevin Mead: Yeah, for sure. So, my background a little similar to yours. I’ve been in SAAS startups; I work mostly in b2b. When I left college, I was on track to go be a developer. But I ended up starting my own company halfway through college and was like, man, like, there’s so much on the sales and marketing side that I’ve never even looked at. And I fell in love with that. And so, from there, I immediately kind of went off the track that I was supposed to, which would to be a programmer and got a marketing job at a local startup in Phoenix, Arizona, did another and another and then when COVID hit, I got let go. And I started, I kind of on the same day, I called someone up and I was just like, you know what, like, this is the best opportunity for me to, you know, finally get a little bit of a push to do what I’ve always wanted to do, which is freelance full time.

Bradley Jacob: Awesome. Tell us a little bit about you start a company in college. That’s pretty rare. What happened to that?

Kevin Mead: It’s a funny story. So, I’m kind of the preface of it is I took an entrepreneurship class with someone I still know he’s a great entrepreneur still. And so, I took that class. And my, basically, the moral of the story was, if you don’t make revenue, or with your business model, or get 100 users on an app, you fail, and I got really interested in it. And I actually, I’m kind of, I’m a very good student. So, things come easy to me. And so, I actually spent the entire semester just focused really hard on that entrepreneurship class, because it was interesting. And so, me and my best friend, we made an app. And then we spent the entire semester building an app thinking this is going to be amazing, fantastic. All these things. And then we have the last week and no one wanted to use it. And again, it was just like, oh, wow, like, there’s a lot more to business, all this stuff than just, you know, the building. And so, I actually took that Christmas to just read a bunch of business books. And from there, I was just like, man, one of my favorite books I read was to sell is human. I was just like, Man, I’m a developer. I’m an introvert. Like, I’ve never tried to sell anything. And so, I’m just like, man, how do I like kind of take what I’m good at right now and start learning to self. And so, as I made a app in college, what I ended up doing was selling app development for other student entrepreneurs, which was filled with a lot of lessons still work with some of the people who helped me along the way there. But you know, typical low pricing trying to get MVP is out. And so that was my first business with them, where I started selling stuff. And that actually ended up building a lot onto you know, where I ended up going today.

Bradley Jacob: Wow, it’s crazy how you could say, okay, we built this app, we got new users, you know, the business kind of failed, right? But it sets so many things in motion for you. Right? I mean, the learning, the reading, the starting of this other business where you’re selling app development, I mean, it’s crazy how that quote failure, which is not at all, it’s really just a learning and experience. Sets does this for you?

Kevin Mead: Yeah, yeah. And I think to a certain extent, especially what I’ve learned from this year is like, you know, there’s a lot of moments where you’re, like, scared to fail. And I’ve gone through that a lot. But it’s also kind of funny when you do because you kind of realize that it wasn’t that big of a deal. And it was a good thing that you even like, started and tried. Like I’ve learned the past year, year of like freelancing, I’ve failed at a lot of things I’ve tried. And I’m really grateful that I did because it wasn’t as like nerve wracking as when I you know, was thinking like, Man, you know, maybe I shouldn’t try this. And then I did it. I was just like, well, that didn’t work out. But you know, what, it? I learned a lot along the way,

Bradley Jacob: Right. I mean, it basically is validating that there really are no failures, right? The failure is an experience a learning and usually said something else in motion, almost always. So that fear of failure is so common, I have it you have it, probably everybody has it to some degree. And if you can get over that it really opens so many doors by just trying new things.

Kevin Mead: Yep. And at the end of the day, as long as you’re patient, along the way, and you know, just keep trying. I mean, I’ve had a Like first year of full freelancing, but underneath all of it was, you know, four years of, you know, working at other places and always doing side hustles always doing a little bit of contracting. And so as long as you kind of keep moving forward on it, it ends up building up and leading to a success.

Bradley Jacob: Yeah, so in your full-time jobs before COVID, before you got laid off, what were those jobs? What did you do?

Kevin Mead: Yeah, so, my first job was at a local company called fetrev. And they do, they were SAS company was the first ever time I ever worked in SAS, and I was in martech, which I actually, as soon as I got the job offer, I looked it up. And I was just like, I have no clue what this is, like, I’ve been doing advertising and like funnels for X amount of time. And so actually looked it up and like, tried out what the job was after, you know, the description got handed to me, it’s pretty funny, I ended up taking the job over, you know, doing kind of development role, for a lot of reasons, but I just liked marketing more. And it’s funny, because that thing that I looked up for like an hour, and like, tried to figure out what it was ended up being like the perfect fit for me down the road. So that was my first job. I did a lot of you know, HubSpot stuff, which is what I do now, full time. And I also learned a lot on like paid generation, or paid lead generation, which is also a big portion of what I do now. And that job ended up giving me like my first more or less case study to, you know, tell stories and tell people like, hey, this is how I kind of help this company. And then from there, I did another job where I was thinking about kind of getting back on that developer track, I took a design job. So, like a UX UI developer job makes with marketing, ended up not being a good fit for me, because I was a marketer. And, you know, I kind of went back on to the track of like, you know, doing more marketing stuff, doing more and more tech, and that’s when I worked at a company called Quick and really focused on wearing a lot of hats, and especially in the startup space, I’m sure you know, it working at Uber, you know, there’s a lot you can do. And so, while I was there, I did, I was able to use a lot of my skill set, you know, which was, you know, web development, design, CRM management, and paid advertising. And so, from that experience, as well, along with all the other ones, you know, I was able to build a lot of skill sets. I also learned how to code. My, I already know how to code, I learned how to start using pythons for business cases. And so, it was really good for all those things. Because I always had, I even told my manager at my third job, like, I’m working here, so I can consult, like, that’s my end goal. That’s what I want to do. I want to, you know, be like you. And what was great was, he was like, Yeah, sounds great. Like, let’s get you there. And so, yeah, I think those all helped me to kind of take the leap, and have a little bit of something in the back of my pocket to refer to on you know, what I’ve done in the past and have a really strong portfolio. Something I find very funny is, as much as you know, I have a lot of those skill sets, I’m focusing on, one of them ended up being the hardest part of consulting is like figuring out of everything that I like doing, what’s the one that makes the most sense provides the most value, and, you know, is a business, which is something that was new for me.

Bradley Jacob: Yeah, it’s, yeah, we can talk there’s so much there, we can dig into so many goods, so many good things. One of the things okay, so you get laid off. And what happens?

Kevin Mead: Yeah, to be honest, like, my mindset, at that moment, was like, Man, this sucks, but honestly, like, I’d been used to, you know, seen some friends, like, go fired. And I’m a big believer of, like, at the end of the day, like, a job is a job and, you know, as much as it’s, you know, you build relationships there. The only reason those go away is if you let them you know, I’m still friends with everyone I’ve ever worked with all those things. And so, I was pretty, just like, okay, you know, they’re doing the best they can during a pandemic, and they’ve done really well. I’m recovering too, and I’m their biggest cheerleader. But, you know, for me, I was just like, okay, you know, like for a while, I had a and even when I left my first job I, that was kind of my first time when I was like, man, maybe I should, like, take this edge and like, just run with it. And I think to a certain extent I was at that time, not really ready for it. And not I’m not like I, the word I always think in my head is like courageous enough to take that leap of faith, which is really tough. And so, at that time, I ended up just taking a job, you know, right after that, there was like a week where it’s like, okay, time to go after it. But when this happened, I was just like, you know, everything was going, I was pausing in the world, right, and everything flipped upside down. And so, I was just like, you know, what, like, this is the best time someone gave me a push. And I really didn’t think about it much more than that, like, it was on a Friday morning. 

[10:50 – 21:13]

And I was just like, okay, like, I called one of the contractors who had or who had, like, been a mentor to me, I was just like, hey, what should I know? Like, I’m going to do this, let’s get started. And it was funny, because while I was working at my, at all the jobs, for about two years, I had my phone background with like, revenue goals that I wanted for consulting. And it was really funny, because but starting on that Friday afternoon to I think Sunday of that night, and hit that revenue in just like, commitments, and it was really funny. And honestly, I was just like, floored, because, you know, it was just one of those things were just like, Man, this, like, this actually, is something I can do. And like, it wasn’t as shocking and as, like scary as I thought it would be, you know, there’s a lot that went into that, like, you know, having those relationships beforehand. You know, I think at the end of the day, it just showed I had built a lot of relationships where people were like, hey, like, Kevin needs some work, let’s give it to him. Let’s have him help out. And so, I think it was kind of one of those moments where, like, everything kind of worked together.

Bradley Jacob: Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, we can definitely talk about the importance of relationships and getting clients but I’m curious, okay, so walk us through the timeline, you get laid off, you call your mentor, they’re like, Okay, I’m doing this thing. You know, tell me everything I need to know. 

Kevin Mead: Yeah. So, I love networking would be the best way to start it. I’ve been networking ever since college. Like I just, I like people, I like building relationships. I mean, it’s why you and I are friends. Like, at the end of the day, I’ve just been doing that for even during college, and, like, there’s a local startup event in Phoenix that I go to every single month, just every single time, not with the pandemic, obviously. But at this moment, I was just like, I think I just radiated for like three years, just like this hunger to like, do my own thing. And so, I think when I kind of told the people in my life, that like, hey, this is something I want to do. I’m a little bit added in the sob story. Like, I think people showed up and people were like, yeah, like, let me talk to some people, or, you know, some of my best clients came from people I’ve had conversations with, and I kind of told them, like, this is the path I want to go on. I don’t know when I’m going to get there. But I want you helping me I want to, you know, have you along on the ride. They just all kind of came together. And that’s kind of how I got my first couple clients, along with like, the CEO of my old company helped everyone, you know, land on their feet during the pandemic. And so, he referred me to a lot of clients. And but also it had that element of like, hey, like, you know, we’re all trying to figure out what’s going on, I’m finally kind of going on my own path. And you knew that this is where I wanted to go. Do you have anything I can help leave you with. And at the end of the day, that’s what gave me kind of the plush.

Bradley Jacob: Yeah, it sounds like you’ve built up goodwill almost throughout your entire career starting before your career.

Kevin Mead: Yeah, it’s kind of funny. Because at the end of the day, like, he’ll hate me for telling the story. But one of the people I love working with, I met him at that networking event I was talking about that I just kept going to and kept showing up. And I had told him; hey, you know, I got let go, but you know, I’m making the most of it. I’m becoming a consultant, just like I have always wanted to. And he was like; Hey, you know, we’re working on this project and he sent a message to his co-founder who I also know very well now. And he’s just like, this is Kevin. He’s a beam of optimism and just a beacon of hope to the world. I saw that I was just like, oh my god, this is hilarious. But it’s funny, like little things like that. It’s just, you know, positivity and, you know, building relationships that go a long way with business, you know, people, like working with people they know they can trust. And at the end of the day, you know, even getting ready for talking with you about this. I’m like; Man, what should I even tell people? Like trust is probably the most important thing across the entire board. Like, yeah, you can do things. But being reliable, accountable, like people knowing that they can trust you is the only thing that really helps you build a business built on, you know, yourself. And so, I think that networking and just building those relationships kind of worked out.

Bradley Jacob: Yeah, it’s such a good lesson. You know, people focus so much on rates, they’re going to charge, how they present themselves, what their LinkedIn looks like, their personal website, and you haven’t mentioned a single one of those things, right? It’s about the personal relationship, and the trust and the rapport. Right, it’s head and shoulders more important than pretty much anything else.

Kevin Mead: Yeah. And I mean, you know, both you and I have had experience in, you know, what we offer, right. But I think at the end of the day, I mean, I love your story about and you told me when we first met about charging, that high retainer, right. At the end of the day, people have problems, and they want to give them to, they want them handle, then they want to give them to people they trust and the price, you know, it’s important, but at the end of the day, like, I even think about it, when I run my business, what people are looking for is knowing that you’re going to run with that problem to the very end, and you’re, you know, they might not even need to touch it other than, you know, tell you a little bit about the problem. And so that’s what ends up being the most important at the end of the day.

Bradley Jacob: Yeah. Can you give us an idea of numbers of how well it’s going today for you, or what you’re able to share from a success standpoint?

Kevin Mead: Yeah. I’m really open except on video. Just because I don’t want to be like, conceited by any means or whatever. Everyone sees different things. But um, for me, it’s been a good experience across the board, you know, like I said, I beat what was on my phone background, the first three days, that was for the whole month, but like, I think at that moment, I was like, wow, okay, I can do this. And then three months in, during Q2, then I went down to, like, oh, my God, I’m making no money. Because I didn’t add retainers or all these things onto these clients. And I didn’t ask for more work, and which was kind of like a little bit of a scary time. It’s just like, man, like, you know, there’s no revenue coming in? How am I supposed to keep doing this, and then and was even funnier in December, it immediately shot up to two times what I was used to, and it was just, wow, like, success isn’t linear with this stuff. You know, it’s, you got to go through the bumpy rides. But at the end of the day, I think a lot of us get into that mindset of like; Hey, you know, I have to be making the same every single month. And I think now, for me, it’s been really empowering to say, see, like, oh, one month, I could be the worst, in my mind, right. And then another month, it’ll wipe out everything. And so, for me, I’ve ended up making more than what I did at my previous job, and all my jobs. But at the end of the day, trying to think, as someone just told me what to say. But like, I’m close to about two times what my salary was, as of today, so and kind of looking a little bit more towards, you know, what to do with extra time and, you know, going towards what is it figuring out, you know, what I like to do and stuff like that. And so that’s been a really great experience, figuring out like, hey, you know, maybe I want to travel a little bit or work on some projects that aren’t revenue based, which is very difficult. But yeah, that’s been good for me. I think the biggest thing that’s been a struggle across the board, especially in contracting is like, when do you I wouldn’t say call it quits, but when do you like say like, this is what I want? And like, how do you balance all those things? Because I think for a lot of us, we especially when we come out of the job world, we’re thinking like, I got to work all this time, and I got to make the most possible And now I’m kind of just thinking about, you know, how do I build more impact and help more people and, you know, do all these things, or have more time. And then when you have more time you ask those questions of like, how do I help more people? How do I, you know, do work I enjoy, which I’m sure you kind of ran into a scene, as you know, that’s exactly what you do now. So, yeah, it’s, it’s going pretty well, for me, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, for sure. Like, I there’s tons of, you know, other things that go along with it, but it’s, for me, this has been what I’ve wanted to do for ever. And like since leaving college, and, you know, there’s a big opportunity cost for being a marketer compared to a developer. And I did that because, one, it was what I enjoyed, but even more so like, I knew I wanted to run a business. And I knew that that was how I wanted to do it. And so it’s really been a good experience of like, hey, like, this is, you know, exactly what I was trying to do. And I got here. So, it’s been pretty fun on that end.

[21:13 – 29:35] 

Bradley Jacob: Yeah. No, that’s, that’s incredible. I’m curious how many hours a week, he said you more than double your previous salary? How many hours a week? Are you working these days?

Kevin Mead: So, I recently ramped down, I worked really hard during the first part of this year. So, I was probably at about 40. I’ve had, you know, some moments where I like, not much, but like work weekends, work nights. I mean, those are the benefits of being a contractor, and also the cons of being a contractor. And so, I’ve kind of gotten that under control. And now I’m kind of winding back now that I’m kind of trying to figure out like, you know, what do I want outside of, you know, revenue and all that stuff. And so, I’m working about 20 to 25 hours a week, it’s probably a little lower, to be honest. Just because it’s really focused on value, and, you know, goodwill and all that stuff. So, but yeah, that’s about where I’m at now, just because I’m not working the extra 20 that I was previously.

Bradley Jacob: Well, I mean, congrats, right? I mean, you set out to be a contractor work for yourself, you’re now doubling your salary in half the amount of time, right? I mean, it’s really is I know, it does beg all of those questions of Okay. Now, how do I spend the free time I lived in also, with you? And everyone probably watching this, like, oh, what a great problem to have. It’s like, okay, well, I got a little existential when it happened to me, and like, why am I here on this planet?

Kevin Mead: I actually had the same client. That’s the beacon of hope one, and I, we weren’t working at the time anymore. But I was just like, hey, like, I know, you went through this, too, like, what do you do? What do you do with the free time and you know, all this stuff? And you know, the answer, I’m still working through it, I actually just hired a coach to help me with it. But the answer is find more meaningful work, find, you know, ways to, I mean, I think one of the things that he’s a downside of being a consultant, I know, you don’t want me saying that at all. But is the truth. You know, there’s a lot of downsides along with the pluses. But, you know, some of the big ones for me is, you know, I don’t have co-workers. And like I said, I am friends with, like, literally everyone I have ever worked with. Like, I just, I like my coworkers. And so that’s been one of those things where you have less of that of like, you know, giving to help other people. And so that’s something that I’m trying to actively work on a little bit. Because even though you know, you do have relationships and everything, it’s a little more transactional, you’re not spending the same amount of time together, because you’re cut up over, you know, multiple clients. And so, yeah, that’s kind of the next step is figuring out what, and honestly, the answer is probably focused on content or, you know, figuring out how to, like you’re doing help other people kind of hit where they want to go. 

Bradley Jacob: Yeah. We’re going to wrap up in a minute, but leave us with the one piece of advice you’d have to a newer freelancer, maybe they walked into their first client, they got kind of lucky. And then they realize how great it is to work for yourself. And they’re like, okay, I want to grow this business. I want to find more clients, but I don’t know how, what would you tell them?

Kevin Mead: I mean, honestly, if it’s a client problem, right, which a lot of people have, I think, at the end of the day, it’s really about and this is so basic, but it’s about conversations and relationships, right? Like, um, and I even think about it like a lot of people get into the thought of like, I need these pitches. I need these rates. It’s like we were talking about, everyone thinks about the technical part of being a consultant. And it’s a very hard thing to give advice on. Because at the end of the day, it matters. But what I think matters the most is building relationships with more people. Like, I don’t do it as much as I should. And I network a ton. But if someone wanted to, you know, really, really build a business, the two things I’d recommend more than anything is interview a lot of people, like we’re doing right now builds great relationships, people love talking about themselves. And then it’s hilarious. And then the other one is, get coffee with someone a different person every single day. Um, but it’s a really, that’s a really tough one, but you’ll be shocked knowing 30 more people in your life, by the end of the month, will literally change everything. Not everyone you have a great relationship with. But at the end of the day, like there’s all the things that are technical about the business side, but at the end of the day, you won’t, you know, be able to sell anything, if you don’t have trust with other people, and you don’t have relationships with other people. 

Bradley Jacob: Yeah, wow, I love it. I’m going to have that as my challenge to meet a new person every everyday. I mean, it’s incredible. I can only imagine the impact it would have.

Kevin Mead: Yeah, and you know, I didn’t even do that. So, I’m giving advice I haven’t super taken. But, you know, there were some days where, especially during my like, low month, where I just messaged people, and like, not even trying to sell. That’s, that’s the worst way to go about this. The best way to go about this is get them to talk about themselves on an interview that you record and makes them look good, would be my recommendation, because asking for coffee is a little in between on the sales side. But at the end of the day, just go into relationships without asking for anything, even better, give you know, give, you know, come, I wouldn’t say compliments. But you know, say like; Hey, I admire your company. You guys do this very well, here’s my thoughts, or stuff like that. Like, I think at the end of the day, we get so focused on the revenue, the rates, all that stuff. But at the end of the day, the people who make decisions are the people who enjoy working with you or enjoy talking with you.

Bradley Jacob: I love it. Yeah, one thing I’ll add is you can add some value to them in the area of expertise you have. Right give away a few tidbits for free in your field, right. How can you automate your marketing or how can use HubSpot? or how can you find this discount on HubSpot, whatever it is right and just giving away something for free. You know, as kind of a thank you for their time. And it also validates you, right, you showcase your experience. And it’s great. 

Kevin Mead: Yeah, and just one last thing before we wrap up on that is like, you know, I’ve tried the typical, like, cold outreach stuff. And you know, it works, it works for sure. But it has nothing on network. Networking at the end of the day, it’s a little harder to do at scale. But it’s just, it’s so much more powerful. And the word networking gets a bad rap from other people. Because it’s combined with sales. And sales aren’t a bad thing by any means. But people have this mentality on it. But at the end of the day, when you go in not expecting things from other people, and really going through the you know, trying to help other people. You know, not everyone will engage with you, but the people who like are fun, and you know, I’m very optimistic the people you want to do business with, they’ll engage they’ll say, hey, yeah, I’ll do coffee or whatever, especially during a pandemic where no one talk to anyone.

Bradley Jacob: Yeah, yeah, no, I love it. Awesome. So many good pieces of advice and learnings from your time. Congrats on your success. It’s been fun to check in with you here and there throughout your journey and see you go through it. So, congrats on that. Thank you so much for joining us today. Where can our viewers if they want to find you? Do you have a website is LinkedIn, where can they find you?

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