Want to learn how to how to make six figures as a freelancer? Meet the creative pros who’ve done it in the Six Figure Freelancers Expert Series!
This week we bring you a digital interview Christina Thelin, a brand strategist and marketing expert.
From identifying and filling customer needs via research and insight development to developing targeting and strategic brand positioning, she lead integrated B2C and B2B global brand strategy and marketing plan development across financial services, tech, and CPG.
What makes Christina a Six Figure Freelancer?
I work with brands to drive accelerated growth through the development of a powerful global brand identity.
I partner with them to deliver bottom-line business results with award winning brand strategies and marketing plans, rooted in my experience at several of the world’s top brands across an array of industries.
From identifying and filling customer needs via research and insight development to developing targeting and strategic brand positioning, I lead integrated B2C and B2B global brand strategy and marketing plan development across financial services, tech, and CPG.
My love of teasing out the threads of brand storytelling and experience across brands make me unique.
How long have you been in business and what inspired you to start you business?
I have always wanted to own my own business. After building a successful brand and marketing career at a few of the world’s top brands, I took an entrepreneurship class during my MBA program that inspired me to start my own business.
I no longer wanted to report up through an approval chain, rather I wanted to be the decision maker.
I also wanted to work across new industries. Consulting allows me to do that while staying at the top of my marketing and branding game.
If you came from a corporate job, how did you deal with the fear of leaving a stable paycheck?
The fear is real.
What pushed me over the edge was getting accepted into Remote Year, which allows you to work and see the world at the same time.
I figured that if things didn’t work out, I would at least have a year of travel and adventure behind me.
I saved up enough funds to live the same lifestyle I was used to living for a few years so that I would not have to worry about going into debt.
What, specifically, do you do? Who do you work with and where?
My specialty is helping small to medium businesses build award winning brand strategies and marketing plans through the development of brand storybooks, brand identity logos and design systems, and establishing brand targets.
I also offer marketing communications planning and digital and social media planning services.
I am based in Los Angeles, CA and service West Coast based clients. I currently work out of my home and occasionally co-working spaces.
What is your top piece of advice related to your area of expertise?
My top tip for creating a strong, relevant brand is to always think audience first.
If your brand was a person speaking to your ideal client, what would their story be?
Who are they, what do they sound like, what are their likes/dislikes? Be as specific as you can.
Once you know who you are, you will know where you need to go, or not go.
How did you get started in business? What are the first steps you took?
The first thing I did was create a business plan and website using Squarespace. I also registered for an LLC, but I don’t think that is 100% necessary out of the gate.
Once the basics were in place, I reached out to friends and family letting them know about my services and immediately received emails from former colleagues and classmates requesting my services. So use those networks!
How did you get first client & how did you get your best client?
A friend of mine from business school works at IDEO, and they needed an expert on social media marketing. I was available to join the initial client call, and things started to grow from there. At this time, all of my business has been from word of mouth through friends and colleagues.
How do stay motivated or deal with fear or stress?
The key for me is not focusing all of my effort in building just my consulting practice.
I realize that, in order to be my own boss, the first thing I try might not become my ultimate bread winning paycheck.
I’m currently doing a mix of brand consulting work, book writing, and building out my online business INA + ILIA. Meditating has changed my life whenever I feel stressed.
I’m also a big fan of yoga.
How do you stand out from the competition? What do you to differentiate yourself from other people in your area of expertise?
I have a really broad corporate background as well as startup experience so brands trust that my recommendations are well rooted and thought through.
While I am a big thinker, I also follow through and get things done. My clients know this and are, therefore, always ready to work with me when the time comes to problem solve tough brand or marketing problems.
What are your top tips for people thinking of quitting a job to start a business?
The toughest part about starting your own business is being your own boss and staying disciplined. I hired a fantastic coach, Kate Bagoy, to help me stay focused and on task when things seemed too overwhelming.
What is you favorite book, blog, podcast or other resource and why?
I love the podcast Sidehustle and Girl Boss. My favorite books include Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. I’ve also found The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron to be life changing.
What business tool or online software could you not live without? What makes it easy to run your business?
I love freshbooks to keep track of expenses using their app. I’m also a huge fan of squarespace for building professional looking websites without killing your budget on web design.
What do you like most about running your own business?
Managing my own schedule.
What’s next for your business? What do you have planned for the next year, or what big goals are you tracking on?
Given I’ve just returned home from a year of building my businesses while on the road, I’m looking forward to super charging my consulting business, meeting new clients, and building out INA + ILIA.
What else is important that we haven’t asked?
You don’t know until you try. Being a thinker and a strategist, I tend to overthink everything but you won’t know how things will workout until you try them.
Stop thinking. Start doing.
Christina has an extensive background in building global brands across several Fortune 100 brands including Procter & Gamble, Visa, and Twitter. Christina earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Southern California and an M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.
In 2017, Christina quit her corporate career to do marketing consulting work and start INA + ILIA, an online boutique offering hand-curated collections of chic home décor goods from under served communities around the world.
Schedule a Free consultation with Christina or connect with her on social media
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Also published on Medium.