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Quick chat with Sally Wright

You’re a publisher, business manager and mentor. What do you love about what you do?

Being curious, learning and evolving to deliver strategies that are customer-obsessed. I love collaborating to evolve ideas, to surprise customers and to be relevant to them – whether that is reading a magazine over a coffee or searching online for a product.

I love collaborating to evolve ideas, to surprise customers and to be relevant to them.

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

Working with so many wonderful freelancers – they bring insights, expertise and niches that go beyond what you can typically have in house. I learn so much from them.

What skills do you think are the most important for freelancers to acquire?

Digital skills, and being able to adapt to change, will future-proof your career. I know this is obvious, but there are a lot of freelancers who often lack these skills. Be curious and learn how to use new tools such as AI to help you be more efficient, for example. Don’t shy away from change. 

If you are a writer you need to understand SEO. For example, if you are writing a story for a print magazine you can still include SEO as part of the article, providing ideas for versions online.

Photographers should be able to shoot still and video for online: this means shooting in the right specs for different platforms, or using your mobile to capture moments behind the camera that are surprising and real. This will add value to your shoot and delight your agency.

Art Directors need to be able to do digital design, too, and understand the specs and functionality of different platforms (e.g. Instagram) and formats (e.g. Stories). Experiment by promoting your work/hobbies online and really lean in and learn the channels that are being used by your clients. 

All freelancers should also subscribe to a selection of client and agency newsletters to understand what is working for brands.

Why do you think the Summit is important for freelancers?

Media is ever-changing and you need to be able to change, too. Connecting with other professionals and current or potential clients is an invaluable way to learn and grow. 

The conference theme is all about futureproofing your career. What steps are you taking to futureproof your own?

Being curious. I read a lot to keep up with trends in technology and  consumer mindsets.

And of course I am using AI to understand how it can help make me more efficient in the creative process. I use tools like Chat GPT or Bard to assist with my research and summaries.

Media is ever-changing and you need to be able to change, too.

You started a content agency, built it into a successful business and then sold it. What different insights has that given you?  

I have an enormous respect for freelancers. Their creativity is what enabled us to surprise and delight our clients’ customers. It meant I hired quite a few freelancers into permanent positions which was exciting.

When we launched I understood that paying freelancers on time was important. So anyone who had an issue with payment usually received an email from me to sort it out – it was my pet hate when freelancers didn’t get paid on time. I wanted to work with the best so that meant ensuring payment was quicker than any other publisher.

Respecting quality and partnering with freelancers by giving regular work was also important to our success. I remember freelancers who always went above and beyond and didn’t just do what their core skill was on their resume. For example, Emma Knowles is a food stylist but I often partnered with her on strategy work to deliver on-trend food ideas for our clients. 

During Covid, our food and fashion photographers worked under extraordinary conditions to keep shooting. We pushed boundaries (within legal limits) together and we did this for each other. Our strong partnerships enabled us to respond together to keep going.

What are your thoughts on AI/ChatGPT?

Love it. It is a game changer that enables us to be more efficient in the creative process. 

Writers and photographers roles will continue. It is their unique and authentic stories and experiences that can’t be replicated with AI.

Co-creating with artificial intelligence can make your process more efficient – for example, you can use it for preparation and ideation.

AI is also creating new roles, such as prompt engineering and prompt crafting which require savvy and creative human input to get the right results.

I love this article from Forbes: 8 ChaGPT Prompts to Finish Hours of Work in Seconds

Co-creating with artificial intelligence can make your process more efficient.

Do you think the future is exciting for freelancers, and if so, why?

Freelancing gives flexibility and freedom – and post Covid this working arrangement is even more respected. As a result, there is amazing talent moving from full-time to freelance to achieve better life balance.

What are your thoughts on AI / ChatGPT?
Although ChatGPT hit the market hard and fast, it’s a technology that’s already evolving beyond what we know now. I met with someone in the field not too long ago who said “ChatGPT is technology from Sep 2021” – that comment really made me think.

Do you think the future is exciting for freelancers, and if so, why?
It couldn’t be more exciting. We’re in the midst of a modern-day labour movement where the opportunities to promote yourself, build your public profile and work from wherever you are have never been easier.

Sally will be a panelist on Day 2 of the Summit. The panel is: The business of freelancing (accounting, systems, processes, outsourcing, templates, contracts).

Find out more about Sally Wright on her profile page.

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