Random Day Job is all about connecting with awesome people who choose a life of freelance instead of the corporate grind. Many people have found great success as a freelancer and I find it inspiring to hear their stories. Today, promotion superstar Nisha Rensel from Knoxville, TN is here to share her journey as an independent contractor in the world of promotions.
1. How long have you been working promotions? 3.5 years
2. How did you get started? I was a fitness manager at a gym and a tour manager came through and asked if I would work an event in Bristol with a friend that weekend. I said yes and it all started there.
3. What do you love about promotional work? I love having the excitement of a new challenge everyday. I get to meet the coolest people from all over the country, and build close work relationships with the other promotional models in the area. You can also make connections in companies you would never have access to in the outside world. You get to meet many media figures and some celebrities. You have free access and many times free reign of concerts and sporting events.
4. Do you dislike anything about it? I would say disorganization and bad attitudes are the only down side. Sometimes you get staffed with a "model" who doesn't understand there is setup/breakdown, engaging consumers, etc. They just have a bad attitude and want to just stand there and be pretty. I only ever worked with one bad tour manager, and as a result of her arrogance I got injured. But one injury in 3.5 years is great odds for what we do.
5. You work a lot of promotions, how did you build such a strong database of clients? NETWORKING! This industry is truly about making strong connections. If you work with a brand ambassador that is really good, exchange info. If you are working with someone from out of town, do the same. The out of town people can send each other work from neighboring cities. With the strong BAs you collect info on- let your staff know! If you can help your staffer staff an event with the best team- they will think of you first and refer you to other companies. Show up on time, ready to take on the new tasks, and in uniform. Don't stand around and wait to be told what to do. Show up introduce yourself to the manager or on site contact and immediately ask what you need to start doing.
Hit the gym- and not just to look good. Lift weights. Some of these setups can be intense and heavy - if you can jump in and actually help you will stand out from those on lookers. If you are good and make the event run smoothly you will get the first call every time. And its a small world - client XYZ might have worked with ABC Agency and ask if they know anyone in your city. You want your name to stand out.
Once you have a strong group you work with you will more then likely be working many of the same events. Carpool! This means you can split parking 1-4 ways. Take turns on who drives to save gas too. Is there a great paying job 2 or 3 hours away but with gas and hotel it doesn't make it worth it? What about if that costs was split in half, or thirds? The other people in this industry and your connections are what can make this a side job or a profitable career. The less you pay out the more you keep in your pocket. Also make sure to set some money aside and keep good records for tax time. Ask your accountant everything you can write off and keep those receipts like your life depended on it.
6. What advice would you give for someone wanting to get started as a promotional model? Remember there is a long list of people trying to start. Have a winning attitude, smile, make connections, and follow through. Good deeds always come back. Someone who manages you today could be a staffer at an agency next year, so NEVER burn bridges. Do not cancel your event for a higher paying event!! I know that sounds silly, but staffers talk to each other. If you cancel an event and they see you working for another company that day you just lost that first agency forever. A black mark on your file will never go away.
Also get a card. Tradeshows and big events often have people come up and say "Hey could you do this for me next time we are in town?" Have your card ready, but do it off the clock on a break or after the event. It is unprofessional to hand your card out on someone else's time. Also have your rate in your head. These people often have a budget. So if you will travel with expenses paid let them know, if you have family in a certain city and can stay free, let them know that too. Many of these companies staff Nationwide so if you have multiple cities you can work in like your home city you become more valuable.
And when you are starting out its no time to think you are a diva. You should take anything that comes your way just to build a resume. $10 an hour, yes. Sampling paper towels, sure. Once you have a strong resume then you start being a little more picky on rate and products. However, on the same token if you are uncomfortable in bars or against tobacco do not do those events. You can't promote well if you are not comfortable in your surroundings.
7. Do you have any funny stories from working a promo? Oh my goodness! This list would be never ending. Whenever you work with the public you are going to be laughing constantly. I have had my shoe come off and get stuck in a pile of mud, been stuck in downpours in white promo shirt, had wheels come off rolling coolers, rental vehicles have mishaps, you name it its happened. But again this is all part of what makes each day exciting and a constant hilarious day. You just have to smile and remember those are the moments that make this job so much fun. I wouldn't ever trade it to sit behind a desk bored all day.
8. Anything else you want to add? I have to add one major do not do in this industry. "Never bite the hand that feeds you". If someone sends you alot of work, do the same in return. If another model sends you a job and you get it, if they did not make the cut do not accept it. If you accept a job they sent you and for whatever reason they did not- you just made yourself their competition and they will NEVER send you another job again. You have to think long term if you want to make this your full time job. If you always just think of yourself, you will quickly find yourself low on the promotional totem pole in your city.
Wow, I told you Nisha was a promotion superstar! Want to connect with Nisha? You can find her on Facebook, Model Mayhem, Knoxville Event Management, Linked In and Twitter!
***Are you a Promotion Superstar? I would love to hear your story! Find me on Facebook or shoot me an email at greercarlson (at) gmail (dot) com***