Alexandra Dien is the Content Marketing Manager at Brandalism Australia, a Sydney-based content marketing and social media agency, as well as a Freelance Digital Marketing Strategist.
Balance the Grind spoke to Alexandra about working in digital marketing, a day in the life of a freelancer, surrounding yourself with a strong support system, and more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
I’m originally from Vancouver, Canada, but moved to Sydney in January. I was craving some warmer weather, and was ready for a new adventure.
I went to school for communications, and graduated with my Bachelors. I have freelanced almost exclusively since I started my career in marketing, and love the freedom it brings with the variety of clients I get to work with.
I started in social media management, moved to content creation, and have transitioned into more of a strategy focused role as of late.
2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?
I work as a freelance digital marketing strategist – so I wear a lot of hats.
My day can involve anything from branded content photoshoots, influencer outreach, to strategy sessions, blogging, to building out someone’s social media page.
I’m currently contracted on by an agency 4 days a week, and work on other client projects with my remaining days.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
If I’m in the office (at the agency), I’m generally at the office by 9am.
I work in a client facing role, creating strategic content in the tech sector. This content can look like articles, infographics, longer format content, or videos – depending on who the audience is.
If I’m working on client work that doesn’t pertain to the agency, my day sometimes looks a little something like this:
I’ll get up around 7 and check my emails – often the first thing I do in the morning, and one of the last things I do before bed.
I have clients back at home, causing my inbox to be a little crazy with the 17-hour time difference.
I have coffee(sss) in the morning, and depending on the day I generally have calls with clients from home early in the morning.
If I have client shoots I try to do those in the early morning/afternoon to capitalise on the natural lighting, get some editing done, and organize them into social feeds.
By then it’s generally lunch, so I’ll pull something out of the fridge and then go back to work. If I’m working on blogs I’ll usually put in a few hours to get multiple done in one sitting – I find I can power through them and then edit/tweak them later.
I often end the day having dinner with my roommates or friends, and then schedule what projects I’ll try to tackle the next day after dinner.
I’ve learned to really try to actively make time for people in my life – no matter how crazy the week has been.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you prioritise your workload?
If I know I have a lot to get through, I write everything down – even if it seems small.
I generally write a list of all of the things I have to get done in a day, and then I rewrite it and order it by alternating things I love to do and things that are more tedious.
It allows me to evenly distribute my day, so I don’t leave tasks I would rather do less until the end of the day.
5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
I don’t know if I’ve found balance yet. I really enjoy what I do, so I often find myself working late, but I don’t really mind.
But, I’ve learned to really try to actively make time for people in my life – no matter how crazy the week has been.
We all lead busy lives, and sometimes you realise you haven’t seen a close friend in 4 months. And you’re like?! How does this happen?!
If it’s trying a new spot for dinner, or grabbing a coffee, I find the change of scenery always to be a good shake up from routine.
This also goes for friends at home – but instead of an in-person coffee date it’s a FaceTime, or text, – but always very regularly. There’s nothin better than a good catch-up/rant with your best gals/pals, sometimes I just end up doing it on a smaller screen.
I also love to travel. I’ve found the excitement of seeing new places and experiencing new cultures always resets me.
I think at least for me, it’s because during the day I pass the same cafe in a rush, go to the same office, and see similar faces.
Even if it’s a weekend trip – the novelty of a new location is so exciting. Every experience, every bite of food, is from a place you’ve never been before. I love it. It lets me have something to look forward to.
6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?
I like to do simple things. I love being outside, with the sun on my face. I love to leisurely walk to grab a coffee, I like to go for a run on the beach – I just like to spend my day off doing things in no rush.
Sometimes it’s wandering around a bookstore looking for a new favourite read (generally true crime, always with a dash of suspense).
Sometimes it’s reading through my favourite blogs to catch up on the latest skincare routine that I probably don’t need but definitely am going to buy.
Sometimes, it’s not leaving the house. It’s giving the house a good clean, ordering in UberEats, and then bing watching Netflix.
7) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
You have to put your head down, hustle, and you have to be hungry.
Especially when you’re young. I think to have success and balance you need to have something you’re succeeding for, and a reason to crave balance.
I find the days I feel the most relaxed are days I can purposely take a break from after I’ve smashed out a project or hit a deadline.
Also defining what success is for yourself, so you feel as though you’ve reached it.
I would (and honestly still) struggle because I would hit these milestones, or goals – that I should have been proud about – but I found they weren’t fulfilling to me because I always wanted to be further ahead.
When I get down on myself – as we all do sometimes – I remind myself that I’m ahead of where I was yesterday, and have more opportunities than yesterday for where I want to go tomorrow.
Finally, surround yourself with like-minded people in your industry. Most of my close friends work in marketing in some capacity, or tech, and I find it to be very inspiring.
It’s an invaluable support system when your friends understand what you’re going though – in a work sense.
It can be difficult to explain the nuances of freelancing to someone who hasn’t done it – it’s just a different ball park.
It comes with a lot of freedom and a schedule you set – but it also comes with less security and more pressure – and having people in your circle first hand that have been there is invaluable.
8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?
Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard. Recommended to me, and a favourite read.
9) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I give myself enough time to get ready in the morning.
I find if I wake up late, I rush through my routine, I rush drinking my first coffee, I can get irritated, and the day is set into motion with a sense of urgency that doesn’t come from the best place.
Giving myself time to wake up, having a coffee, and getting ready allows me to start my day in the right way.