Editor’s Note: This blog is part of our new “We Are EM” series, focused on a new generation of consultants. What does employment look like for Millennials, who came of age during the internet explosion and entered the workforce during an economic recession?
SEM Expert and Mom of Three
When the time was right, Lucy Frye left the corporate world to become a digital marketing consultant. Family had everything to do with it. With three young children, she is the main income source and is always planning for what’s next.
She considers that one of the best parts of being self-employed, giving her a constant personal growth challenge. Through previous work relationships, she has maintained a strong network. She’s developed an ecosystem of consultants where they pass business to each other or tag team on projects.
Technically, Lucy is a Millennial, on the older end. Identifying with them culturally depends on the article she reads. Having worked for fast-paced startups, she finds one thing in common with Millennials — that she doesn’t like doing the same ol’ job year after year. Lucy loves the dynamics of working with different clients.
How Lucy Got Started
Lucy and her husband were high school sweethearts and also both graduated from the University of Akron in Ohio. Perhaps they can thank Gavin Newsom in part for their big move to the West Coast. Right after college, while watching him on TV, they were inspired to get married and head to San Francisco. They purchased one-way tickets to find their version of “gold.”
Having a theoretical mathematics degree, Lucy’s obvious choice was to search for jobs in “math” on Craigslist. A digital marketing role came up. She applied and got the job, setting her on a journey in pay-per-click marketing and beyond.
After relocating to Charleston, South Carolina, a favorable opportunity arose for Lucy to open up a satellite office for a San Francisco Bay Area company. This is where her parents had moved to as well — what a bonus it was to have grandparents to her tiny tots nearby!
Now Lucy and her family are living in a cute town called Summerville, where the local pharmacy “still sells phosphates and hot dogs and ice cream.” But the long commute to the office was taking its toll. Lucy’s husband had been a stay-at-home dad while earning his master’s degree online. Once he started working, they needed to make some trade-offs to provide the family life she envisioned.
Why Consulting Works
For Lucy, consulting makes all the pieces of her busy family life fit better together. Achieving work-life balance is always a challenge, however, Lucy has found the right mix. With a babysitter that helps a few hours some mornings, Lucy manages projects amounting to 25 hours a week. She’s able to work in shifts around her husband’s middle school art teaching schedule.
Supporting clients from her past life makes it “a dream come true.” She can’t see herself walking away from these great people and relationships. When she was ready to begin consulting, she had reached out to her strong career contacts. Because of her location and what their needs were, being a consultant has worked out perfectly. Knowing how effective a worker she is, they are just fine with supporting her work-life balance as well.
Lucy wants to provide long-term financial stability for the family. While she’s always working to maintain her hours and create backup plans, she loves owning it all. “It’s feast or famine, and you have to always be planning,” Lucy said. “I do like the chase of potential new clients and networking. At the same time, I can pick up my son from kindergarten at 2:00. It’s pretty perfect.”
Loving the EM Community
While Lucy has successfully driven her own portfolio of clients, she reached out to EM Marketing, thanks to her previous colleague, Patrick Lundbom, now also a consultant. “He talked a ton about EM Marketing and said I should meet with them,” Lucy said.
EM Marketing hosts several Slack channels to connect consultants on topics from marketing know-how to travel to contract opportunities. “I got so excited about the support they provide, and the community is a fantastic resource for me,” Lucy said. “People have very deep experience in different marketing roles, so it’s really helpful to chat and ask questions.”
One of Lucy’s clients gave her a “maternity leave” (unpaid and on her terms). Funnily enough, her client back-filled her role with a consultant from EM Marketing. “I was blown away by the quality of work that he did and his overall fit with the team,” Lucy said. “EM is great in that way because they have so many experienced consultants. They can just tap into their huge network and somehow they always find someone to fill these roles.”
Paying It Forward
EM Marketing fulfills a need that Lucy has been wanting to create within her community. “I really want to do something that helps moms find part-time opportunities,” Lucy said. “Because there’s so much wonderful talent out there that can’t find part-time work.”
Hopefully, she can start this type of network in South Carolina. If anything, Lucy is the quintessential role model and an inspiration to the next generation of moms and dads looking for work-life balance.