Freelance SEO life is one big balancing act…

During this blog series, we talk to accomplished digital marketing professionals from a variety of backgrounds about their career journeys with the aim of inspiring jobs seekers, aspiring freelancers and the trailblazing entrepreneurs amongst you!

This time, I was lucky enough to interview the wonderful Claire Carlile, a Freelance SEO & Digital Marketer based in South Wales. She is a digital marketing conference speaker, a huge fan of welsh cakes (if you bump into her at a conference, she probably has some in her bag!) and is the all-time champion of emoji usage!

But where did it all begin for this marketer?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I watched a lot of Westerns growing up, and my dad was a mechanic, so I mostly imagined myself as a ten-gallon hat-wearing, spanner wielding fixer of vehicles. I was a strange child!

What and where was your very first job?

I did various odd jobs from 13 years old (working in a newsagent, running kids parties, flipping burgers at the ‘bite-de-lite’) but my first full-time job was as a primary school teacher in London. It was pretty awful. I have a LOT of respect for teachers!

When and how did you first discover digital marketing / your specific industry sector?

20 years ago, my post-teaching career (short-lived!) I escaped to Pembrokeshire in Wales and ended up working for an outdoor adventure company. I was responsible for all things marketing and customer experience, but this was my first experience of managing a website, this is when I discovered ‘SEO’ and set about learning using resources like Jill Whalen and SEOBook, and I was pretty soon hooked. I decided that digital marketing was my niche, I went on to study for an MSc in Marketing part-time while I worked, with a view to providing small business digital marketing services to nice and authentic businesses and organisations. Which is where I am now!

Share a mistake you made or an event you regret from your career

Oh gosh, I always feel that I should have worked agency-side or in the house at a big company, like this would have made me a more credible and experienced SEO and marketer. That I should have made decisions based around salary, opportunities for personal brand building, and around location geographically, rather than choosing to live in the digital hinterland (!). But life is a question of balance – I’m trying to take a ‘je ne regrette rien’ approach – we learn, we move forward. 🌈

Jumping in a time machine, what pearls of wisdom would you give your 18-year-old self?

Low self-esteem and imposter syndrome are such limiting factors for so many people, in my experience. I’d hold myself by the shoulders, look into my eyes and say “YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. Don’t sweat it. You’re ace – you are strong – you are empathetic and authentic – you are an excellent friend – you will have a good life full of many adventures. Go out and be happy and DO GOOD THINGS’. Aw, I just made myself do a cry! 🦁 ⭐🤗

freelance SEO Pro claire carlile, the making of a marketer baby photo

What industry skills do you wish you’d learned sooner, and why?

The ability, and the confidence, to ‘wing it’!

Who are you inspired by in the digital marketing industry?

So many people! So many people are so willing to share, to mentor, to support – all without the expectation of personal gain besides just being ‘a good person’. I feel blessed to have made the friends I have in this space.

If you were to publish your autobiography in 20 years’ time, what would it be titled?

‘I’m Not Crying, You Are – Lessons Learned From 40 Years of Navel Gazing’

What is the one thing you want to be remembered for from your freelance SEO career, and why?

I’d like people to think of me as being a knowledgeable, thoughtful and supportive friend, colleague and employee!

Thank you for sharing your story Claire, I think more of us should take a leaf out of your book and follow the ‘je ne regrette rien’ approach to work… and life!

I thought I’d end with a bit of inspiration Claire sent me along with her baby photo, keep winging it people.

fake it 'till you make it - by claire carlile freelance SEO

Keep an eye out for more of the MOAM series as I publish new editions on a regular basis from equally inspiring digital marketing experts!

Could your career story encourage others to further their digital marketing careers? Or do you know someone whose story needs to be told? Get in touch with me, Emma on Alternatively, if you’re looking to explore the option of a career in digital marketing yourself, visit our contact page.