Freelancers tend to be renaissance men (and women, and non-binary unicorns). Working for yourself often pushes independent professionals to learn more, do more, and constantly evolve. Sharon Lee Thony is one such multi hyphenate. Restless in her role as a digital account executive, Sharon went back to school to earn a Wharton MBA while holding down her 9-5. She’s gone on to start her own consulting business, teach at General Assembly, and turned her side hustle into a full-time Gig. Did we mention she’s also a wife and mother of three (two kids, one dog)? And she’s not done yet. Read on to find out what drives Sharon as a Fiverr Pro freelancer, Learn from Fiverr instructor, and one of the real community “role models” featured in our #FiverrConnections campaign.
Tell us a little about you. Who you are, where you’re from, what you do.
Hi! I’m Sharon Lee Thony and I was born and raised in New York City, where I still live with my two little boys, husband, and dog. I’m a digital marketing expert, instructor and brand strategist, specializing in lifestyle brands, luxury hospitality, wellness, beauty and non-profit sectors. After almost two decades of working a 9-5 job, I left the corporate world to start my own consulting business. Now, I’m a Fiverr Pro Seller, an instructor on Learn from Fiverr and a “multipreneur” (and I’ve never been happier)!
What drives you as a doer? Why do you do what you do?
My grandmother taught me “to learn one new thing a day and to do one good deed a day.” It’s such a simple directive and it’s one that I try to uphold in her memory. I am driven by making a positive impact on the world, connecting with people and constantly learning. I have always loved marketing and advertising because it requires a deep understanding of your audience (people, human beings) and the ability to engage with them. The best brands are ones that can emotionally connect with their audience – making them laugh or cry or both. In many ways, great marketing brings us closer to one another.
What’s exciting to me about this moment in time is how the digital landscape has created a direct connection between brands and customers, as well as allowed small brands to find and engage powerful audiences. A little-known mom & pop shop can now scale quickly due to a small investment in Google Ads or an independent designer without any retail locations can become a household name from its presence on Instagram. And what I love about being a Fiverr Pro is how I have been able to connect with clients from various industries to help them do this, too. I feel inspired and challenged, learning about industries and business models that I didn’t even know existed – and I’m connecting with people all over the world. Last week alone, I spoke with clients in Nigeria, Vietnam, and Canada!
In addition to being a Fiverr Pro seller and face of the #FiverrConnections campaign, you’re one of our Learn from Fiverr Instructors, too! What will freelancers learn in your Learn from Fiverr course? Who should take it?
My Instagram Ads Fundamentals course is great for any freelancer who has general knowledge of Instagram but needs to level up on how to create, monitor and track campaigns that generate real business results for clients. My course is not fluffy or all about pretty pictures (although those are super important on Instagram). In the course, I dive deeply into using Instagram’s Analytics features and Facebook’s Ads Manager to target, segment and analyze campaign results. The course provides insight into the way that I approach Instagram advertising for my own clients, using tactics and strategies that have been proven to work. I encourage all digital marketers to check it out and let me know what you think!
What inspired you to take the leap from side hustle to freelancing full-time? What are your business goals? What’s next?
When I was creating my Instagram Ads Fundamentals course for Learn from Fiverr (last October), I spent a lot of time researching the core audience for the course: primarily Fiverr sellers and digital marketing freelancers. What I uncovered were so many inspirational stories about this community of talented, bold and fearless doers on Fiverr. They are out there and doing things, on their own, to make a real impact.
As someone who had always had a 9-5, the freelance lifestyle looked like the perfect combination of creativity, flexibility and profitability. What inspired me was the opportunity to take the leap and explore my own potential – would I be able to leave a full-time role with benefits and a stable paycheck to make it on my own? In other words, could I create value for myself and other businesses with my own talents and contributions?
So, I left my full-time, 9-5 job as Head of Marketing for a startup organization and gave myself three months to “test out” this new profession. I’m happy to share that January 1, 2019 was the three-month mark and things are going phenomenally well! I’ve found my niche in working with consulting clients and Fiverr buyers on developing marketing strategies and digital marketing campaigns. I have also continued to teach digital marketing at General Assembly – you can find me on the NYC campus at least 2-3 times a week. In the next 12 months, I’d like to see myself continue to grow and scale my freelance business with even bigger projects, new service offerings and partnerships.
How have #FiverrConnections changed how you work?
Connections that I’ve made on Fiverr have provided me with a portfolio of clients from all different industries and has helped me to expand my own expertise into new areas. Recently, I met a buyer in Michigan who needed help with a digital marketing strategy for his medical marijuana dispensary. I didn’t know anything about the cannabis industry, so I had to learn a lot about it. Furthermore, I had to figure out which digital platforms would allow him to market (“sell”) marijuana and that required serious research and creativity. So, now I can add that very untraditional bullet to my resume – if anyone needs a cannabis marketing expert, I’m your gal!
How do you feel about being a role model (literally) for other independent professionals?
That’s funny, I don’t see myself as a role model at all! It’s been both humbling and awesome to be a part of the Fiverr Connections campaign. My friends send me Insta Stories when they spot my face in the ads on the NYC subway stations and garbage cans! It’s a lot of fun. I feel the same about freelancing: humbling, awesome and fun. I wake up every morning, grateful that I’ve been able to create the flexible, innovation-driven career that I wanted for myself. I feel more liberated than when I was working a 9-5 and it’s been that freedom I really cherish. What I love most about freelancing is contributing towards the success of my clients, and I’ve gained a ton of satisfaction from working with others that I never would have met otherwise.
Do you have any favorite Fiverr Gigs or freelance services to recommend for your fellow small business owners (besides Learn from Fiverr, of course)?
One of my favorite tools for goal-setting and productivity is my BEST SELF Journal, it has been a game-changer for me. I start and end my day with it, mapping out my schedule and tasks – it has helped me to stay focused on what’s important and to prioritize my attention. Another tool I’m really loving is the And Co. time tracking feature. I am learning a lot about time management as a freelancer, trying to utilize time in the most effective way. When you work for yourself, there are no more water cooler chats about The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or munching on office snacks to pass the time…I’m my own boss now and every minute counts.