For my friends: what I do as a self-employed consultant

I’m self-employed, attached to a couple of agencies, and I collaborate with a number of well-respected individuals. But what do I do all day?

I’ve been a bit antisocial over the last couple of years, and I’m now reconnecting with a great number of great friends. Catching up with long-term real-life friends means talking about your ambitions, and what you’re doing to to make them happen. I’m self-employed and stating my job title (whatever it is) doesn’t help my friends understand what I do at all.

You might know me as an intranet consultant, an internal communications specialist, a content marketer, or perhaps a social media manager. What does all that mean? It usually means very little to my home town friends!

So here’s what I do with my time, without recourse to jargon.


I own and run an intranet conference in London, with one of my business partners. Intranet Now, as it is called, is the only independent intranet conference in the UK, and we have top speakers from around the country, and an unconference afternoon when the audience become participants.


Every couple of months I’ll directly help a large organisation with their intranet design or revamp. I’ll help with governance (how decisions get made), structure (how it is built) and navigation (how people use menus to get around it).

Every couple of months I arrange intranet related workshops for a dozen or so attendees, with my Intranet Now business partner. Such workshops up-skill intranet managers and comms contributors, and are led by famous (in my industry) specialists. Sometimes I even run one!

I attend various conferences in London, and I might guess that I get free entry because the organisers know I will tweet a lot before and during the event! Developing industry relationships is really important, and everyone knows I’m happy to promote their event to my 3800 Twitter followers. ‘Industry relationships’ often turn into friendships over the years, and I’m always pleased to do business with people I know well.

Every so often, I’m invited to speak at a conference. At the moment I’m hawking my ideas about good communication and intranet page design across the UK and Europe! Travel is definitely a perk of my job, and being a ‘conference speaker’ has a certain cachet – I’m lucky to have been picked up by the conference circuit because I’m a bit nervous about speaking in public, but people are always very supportive.


Each month I write, design, and send various email newsletters, with, and on behalf of my clients. Newsletters help my clients keep in touch with their clients and potential clients, and it’s all about sharing knowledge, connecting on a personal level, and keeping your brand in people’s minds.

One of the newsletters is for my charity, so that one is about sharing ideas and offering support services via the charity’s website.


Every week or so, I write and publish a blog article somewhere on the web. Most usually, this will be directly on a client’s website, but sometimes I write on behalf of a client and then get the article published somewhere else – like on a bigger, more popular website. This is ‘content marketing’ – you’re trying to get your content out to a wider audience so that your client’s reputation grows and so your client’s expertise is well presented.

The majority of what I write gets published with my name against it, but occasionally I will ghost write for a client.

Sometimes I write for magazines, rather than just the web.

When I can, I try to write a new blog article for my own website – after all, I’ve been blogging about internal communication and intranets for ten years, and people expect my blogsite to be active and relevant.

Writing is incredibly lucrative and incredibly hard! I’m not very thick-skinned, so I spend more time worrying about my writing than I do actually writing! I need to meet my clients’ expectations and write something that is useful, relevant, and interesting to their audiences. There’s no point publishing stuff just to sit on your website – it needs to be shared on social media, it needs to be talked about by others, it needs to be relevant and worth people’s time.

Running my charity (as I have done for 13 years) could be a full-time job, but I have to treat it as a side-project and devote my time to it as best I can. On a weekly basis I’ll work with other vollunteer colleagues to get things done.


Almost everything I do (above) requires daily social media support. In a nutshell, I tweet a lot. But it’s much more than that really. I, personally, have used Twitter for nearly eight years, and it’s become a vital business tool for me. But beyond my personal use, I also manage clients’ accounts. This means I can write and post anything from 30 to 90 tweets a day – which takes time and thought.

On top of Twitter accounts, I also manage LinkedIn Company Pages, Facebook Pages, Google Plus accounts, Pinterest boards, and even one Tumblr account.

You might wonder what I post across all these social networks every day, but just take a look at what Pepsi, Cadbury, and ITV post – they’re keeping in touch with their consumers – my clients want and need to keep in touch with their industry peers, and business clients. So, rather than being like Cadbury, the social media posts I send are more like Microsoft, Adobe, and FedEx. But hopefully more personal.

Every article I write on a weekly basis needs sharing across social networks each day. And of course it’s boring and bad form to talk about yourself all day, so I share other people’s articles too. I read a great many articles in the morning, and I keep an eye on Twitter through the day to see what articles other people are sharing. I read a lot. I know what my peers and competitors have published within hours.

So that’s it; I’m busy with social stuff every day, but I have to fit in the many articles I’m editing or writing, and then there’s the big monthly and annual stuff too. Half the time I’m working directly for clients and getting paid doing what they need, and half the time I’m working directly for myself, doing conferences and workshops – when I have to balance the books and try to make a profit from ticket sales.

If you’re in any kind of comms, PR, or marketing role, I’m sure you recognise some of the stuff I do, and I hope I haven’t dumbed it down too much.

[ Wedge ]
1 comment
  1. Wow, this really resonated with me. It can be very difficult to explain what I do and I often just tell people I write for a living to take the heat off long explanations. I’m an “Internal Communications Specialist,” so it was funny seeing that you listed my exact corporate title.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Article
Digital Impact Awards

Enter the Digital Impact Awards

Next Article

Intranets and Design Thinking - James Robertson at IntraTeam Event Copenhagen

Related Posts

Cost of an intranet

Intranets cost money; a suitable investment of time and cash is needed for a quality service to your people. But how much dare you spend? How much dare you not spend?