Aniesia Williams is a fractional CMO with 20 years of experience across many industries, including healthcare, entertainment, and tech. She specializes in messaging, branding roadmaps, thought leadership strategies for executives, product launches, and client retention. During the pandemic, she took a leap of faith and founded her own integrated PR and marketing firm, AW+CO, which works with small businesses, advertising agencies, and venture capital firms. Here’s what her days look like as an independent fractional CMO.
How long have you been a marketing freelancer or consultant?
Off and on for 18 years. As business needs and the industry have fluctuated, so has my ability to adapt. Brands have had to find different ways to compete in the global marketplace with less budget and thus being the right partner at the right time has been a sweet spot for me. During the start of the pandemic, I wanted to take a break and change the way I was approaching my work, so AW+CO was born.
Where are you based?
Where do you usually work from?
Home! I built a home during the pandemic and I was very intentional about my work space and also creating boundaries for my personal space as well. Flowers and natural sunlight make it a comfortable and happy work space for me.
Now let’s get into your routine! Do you have set hours you work?
Yes—11 to 5 pm, but done by 3 pm on Fridays.
Tell us about your morning. Do you have any rituals or routines?
I established me-time from 9 to 11 am, when I focus on mind, body, and health. I drink my hot mint tea and then start my business day. Thursdays are also a no Zoom/camera/conference call day. You can’t Zoom or meet so much that the work doesn’t get done. I try to protect that time as much as possible.
What does the rest of an average work day look like for you?
From 11 to 5 pm, it’s usually back-to-back Zoom calls. Then I might finish up emails until around 7 pm, but I absolutely shut it down by 8 pm.
I travel around the world depending on where the clients are. When I touch down, it’s usually a dinner, strategy sessions the next day followed by dinner, and meeting with any stakeholders before leaving town. I usually don’t see my hotel until 11 or midnight. It’s nonstop all day.
Depending on the client, strategy can be a major part or a fractional part of the work. Either way, before I start with any client, strategy is the first thing I gut check to make sure I’m in line with the brand and where the client wants me to go.
Do you take a lunch break? What’s your go-to lunch?
Not usually one where I log off—it’s lunch at my desk. Chick-fil-A has a hold on me. It’s usually the Cobb salad.
Do you do anything to transition out of your work day?
I shut down the lights in my office, and there aren’t any electronics besides my cell phone that are in my upstairs or bedroom.
Is there anything you wish you could change about your current routine or work schedule?
Not at the moment. I worked really hard to establish a routine during the pandemic. I used to work nonstop and thus would experience burnout a lot.
Is there anything else you want to share about your routine and how you find work-life harmony as an independent marketing professional?
Some entrepreneurs say there is no such thing as work/life balance. Not until I ended up in the hospital for pure exhaustion and overworking did I finally change the way I work, what I eat during work, and how much time I give myself during the day. I stopped working 14-hour days and scheduling calls before 9 am, and started making Thursdays my no-call day and working out first thing in the morning. Those are the changes that changed my life completely.
Are you a freelance marketer who’s built a career that truly lights you up? Would you like to share your ‘day in the life’ story? We’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org!