Florence Bache is a freelancer specialising in digital marketing strategy. She lives in Réunion Island and is currently working with marketing agency O'My!
This post continues our series of profiles on entrepreneurs and change-makers across the Indian Ocean and beyond. We have previously featured blogger Sarah Zendrini and social entrepreneur Karuna Rana.
Tell us a little about your background. What did you do before becoming a freelancer?
I am 27 years old and a French native speaker. I grew up on Reunion Island and moved to France to attend Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) for my studies. During my time in Paris I had the opportunity to work as a digital marketing assistant for several brands. I was actively involved in developing and updating the brand’s social media presence. I was responsible for updating the loyalty program and customer website, and also for market research on competitors and drawing up marketing strategies.
After my Masters in Marketing at Sciences Po, Paris, I decided to move back to Reunion Island and work as a freelancer. I wanted something different from working in a traditional office. It took several months for this project to mature. Freelancing appealed as I'm comfortable with self-discipline, time management and being responsible for my own decisions. Also flexibility of work schedule is the best part of being a freelancer. It is easier to have a balanced life.
What are you currently working on?
I am helping a marketing agency on Reunion Island called O'My! to develop and implement an effective marketing strategy. O'My! is an alternative agency: it promotes non-traditional marketing techniques like street marketing, guerrilla marketing and creative digital strategies. I'm excited because alternative marketing is a very new concept for Reunion Island.
How did you find this opportunity?
I was speaking to my network contacts about what I was doing as a freelancer. I heard that O'My! was working on a new project about a Marketing agency so I decided to give them a call. Building a network is very important as a freelancer. It takes a lot of time but it helps you find new clients.
"The best part is working on something very new for Réunion"
Can you give us an example of the projects you have contributed to?
A competition was organised this year for the Women’s Day: le Prix Julie Mas. The objective was to promote female entrepreneurship on Reunion Island. As a marketing consultant, I helped O'My! to have a clear and understandable voice. O'My! won the third prize. I was very proud because it means women from Reunion Island are not afraid of being entrepreneurs.
What's been the best thing about working with O'My Marketing so far?
The best part of the collaboration is working on something very new for Réunion Island.
What other projects have you worked on previously?
I have worked for startups to promote their products and services. Most of the time, I am providing marketing consulting services to small businesses like a French swimwear brand called Foah - ‘Flower of an Hour’. The swimsuits are made in France and the designer is working from Reunion Island. I have helped with its social media and digital strategy.
What would you say are the benefits of being a freelancer in Réunion Island?
Being a freelancer gives you more freedom. It enables you to test all your ideas and be more creative. I am very curious and love to learn new things to improve my skills. Reunion Island being a French Territory, you can also benefit from all the French facilities (transportation, healthcare, security, etc.).
Would you say the Indian Ocean is a good destination for digital nomads? Are there any tips you'd give to someone interested in the region?
The main benefit of being a freelancer in the Indian Ocean region is definitely the climate. Sunbathing, working outside and feeling relaxed can affect your productivity for the rest of the day! I would recommend it to the digital nomads who are interested in coming for a few months.
What are some of the challenges that you have faced since choosing this way of life?
You need self-discipline because you are your own boss. Being a freelancer also requires a lot of organisational skills. Working from home means most of the time having a small office space. I am staying focused because I know what I want to achieve.
Do you have any anecdotes or stories from your journey so far which you’d like to share?
People usually don't understand what being a freelancer involves. They don't understand how you can be working from home and have no traditional office and no boss. Basically, you need a computer, a WiFi connection and a phone number. The day I announced to my relatives I was going to work as a freelancer they were perplexed. There are not a lot of freelancers on Reunion Island. But it is just a matter of time before there are more.
Who or what has been your inspiration? Do you have any role models?
"You need patience and persistence. Things will go slowly at the beginning."
What does your typical day look like? Do you have any habits or routines which have helped you?
I have set up a daily routine to improve my day with healthy habits. I avoid sleeping late. It allows me to wake up early and eat breakfast for my first round of vitamins. I keep office hours. I also try not to skip lunchtime. I take an hour break. Actually, lunchtime is an opportunity to sit down with family members and talk about things that are nothing to do with my activities as a freelancer. I try to go to the gym three times a week. It feels so good to do some exercise!
Where do you usually work and why?
I love working from home. No more transportation, no more time spent travelling to work (after 6 years in Paris!). I have set up an office and I decorated it according to my tastes.
Which tools, gadgets or applications do you use to help you in your work, if any?
My best time-management tool is my Post-it List. It helps me prioritize and focus on the most important tasks of the day. I also use social media networks because they are good to keep an eye on what is going on in the digital sphere, especially in marketing. I love looking at Pinterest to find new inspiration, for example.
How do you spend your down-time, when you’re not working on your project?
I do a lot of research about marketing, design, and technologies because digital technology is moving. I am also involved in the startup ecosystem here on Reunion Island. I try to go to the meetings and meet other freelancers as much as possible.
Where are you planning to go next?
My aspiration is to have an opportunity elsewhere in the Indian Ocean region like South Africa or Mauritius.
"Never doubt your skills"
Do you have any tips for aspiring nomads?
Becoming a digital nomad gives you the opportunity to do something you really love but the first weeks are very challenging. You need patience and persistence. Things will go slowly at the beginning. You need to build a network if you want to find new clients. Never doubt your skills.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Things can look more complicated than expected. Surround yourself with caring people who will support you in your projects. Stay optimistic because your work is not vain.
What's next for you?
I will continue to build my network. I am also working on two other projects. I am not able to say much about it at the moment because we hope to present the project to the local incubator, la Technopôle. They have opened a new competition this week to help more projects to develop.
You can see more of Florence's work at omymarketing.com.