Kendra Wingerter is a marketing-savvy entrepreneur that’s carved her own path in the digital world. In her final year at SFU, she founded NetWorked Marketing & Communications, which specializes in providing digital and content marketing services to a range of clients. In our CMNSU-exclusive interview, she offers valuable insight about how to transform your passions into your career.
Kendra, like many other new graduates, dreamed of becoming someone great on her own terms. Building a company from the ground up is an uphill battle, but with hard work, patience and perseverance like Kendra’s, anyone with the will to do so can do the same.
How did you get started freelancing?
I kind of fell into the marketing world. I was majoring in International Studies when I started volunteering as a social media coordinator for a non-profit organization, Raising The Village. I spearheaded one online fundraising campaign that had a lot of success, and after that I thought hmmm how cool would it be to make money doing this for a living?
Through networking, a few businesses and individuals heard about the work I’d done and asked to contract me out to do similar work for them, so I took the steps needed to make myself legit; I registered a business name, got a business license, and took business courses from Small Business BC to learn the ins-and-outs of business ownership. From there, I built up my clientele by networking at events and replying to online job postings, telling them why they should use a freelancer instead of hiring someone.
Starting my business while I was still in school allowed me to grow to the point where I could be fully self-employed upon my graduation, as I had already been through the initial learning curve of entrepreneurship and had built up a reliable income stream.
What drives your passion for social media?
I love branding, and watching brands come to life. Whether I’m revamping an online profile or writing posts for social media, it’s an opportunity for me to take that company from it’s current form to it’s ideal form, and I like that visionary aspect of it. I was born a writer as well, and digital marketing lets me write in many different forms, whether it’s blogging, website copywriting, or posting on social media. It’s cool now that I’ve hit the point where a ton of people read my work and I have a core of followers. I’ve had people message me from all over the world asking how to get into the kind of work that I do, and it’s made me a part of the international community of creatives.
What’s your favourite part about digital marketing?
Since I’m self-employed, digital marketing is a lifestyle for me. I don’t feel like I have a “job,” though I often work around the clock. It’s a creative industry that can be extremely flexible if you set yourself up that way – I’ve even managed to work full time while travelling abroad! With many careers you wouldn’t be able to do that, but as long as I have a laptop and Wi-Fi I can work from anywhere.
Did you find the world of digital marketing intimidating when you launched your website and services?
No, in fact the more I see the more confident I become in my own abilities. My generation is the first one to have really grown up with social media; we’re masters of it. Even though I’m fresh out of university my experience rivals that of marketers who are much later on in their careers, the industry hasn’t been around long enough for them to have 30 years of experience over me. It’s an industry where young people can become quite powerful fairly quickly, if they’re good at what they do.
What advice can you give any aspiring digital marketing entrepreneurs?
Dreaming isn’t going to get you anywhere, you have to take action. Apply for your business licence, find your first gig, and build up your portfolio. Being your own boss can offer incredible freedom and flexibility, but no one can do the work for you.
Start your business while you’re still in school, as a side project, so that you have something to go off once you graduate, because nothing happens overnight and it can be hard to pay the bills with a brand new business.
Work with clients that you find trustworthy, always make them sign a contract for your services, and always take a retainer or deposit. Don’t be let down if a client falls through on you or you get screwed over at some point, it happens to all free-lancers and is usually nothing personal, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Learn from it and move on.
Digital marketing business can be extremely cheap to start, so there’s little to lose and lots to gain. You’ll learn so many skills, from bookkeeping to customer service to negotiating, and even if you don’t stay in digital marketing forever those skills will be useful wherever you end up.
If this is the career you want, believe that you can make it a reality, and then go out there and do it!
Is there a philosophy you live by?
Dream, Create, Coffee, Repeat.