After establishing a successful career in the United States, Shayne Thomas decided to permanently settle down in France. While he discovered freelancing as a simple solution to kick-start his career in his new home country, he quickly realised it could be much more than just a ‘start’. Indeed, freelancing would eventually enable him to develop the career he had always dreamed of – one full of choice and flexibility, where he’s free to do the work he’s passionate about. Jumping from communication consulting for large corporations and startups to short-term translation projects, Shayne explored a newfound freedom that he would never want to give up. This interview dives deeper into the unique experience of this “American freelancer in Paris”.
Welcome Shayne, can you please tell us about yourself and your job?
I’m Shayne Thomas, I’m American and I have been living in France for three years now. Eight years ago, I started a Content Marketing agency in the U.S., which I still manage from France today. While I travel back and forth between Paris and Los Angeles, I spend 90% of my time in France.
To stay in France, I had to quickly find a job here. However, the administrative steps around finding a full-time role were long and complex, so I turned to freelancing, which I saw as the simplest way to start working in my chosen area of expertise. Today, the work I do as a freelancer in France is similar to what I did in the U.S: I advise companies on their English Content Marketing strategies.
How did you hear about Malt?
I called a few freelancer friends to get started in my job search and they all recommended Malt. I registered on the marketplace, followed the advice offered on the website and took a look at the FAQs. For example, Malt recommends including reviews from past clients on your profile. So I contacted some in the U.S. who gave me very positive reviews. I also added a maximum amount of detail and descriptions to complete my experience section and did some SEO and keyword optimisation to make sure clients could find me easily through the search engine.
What kind of clients do you work with? What kind of projects do you choose?
I started with short-term projects, but today I mainly work on recurring projects with clients I have been collaborating with for over a year, such as Talentsoft or Smart Tribune. Recurring clients like these help me ensure a fixed revenue and efficiently plan my schedule for the year. Every now and then, I also work on some translation projects. Thanks to this balance between short and long-term projects, I get to tackle a diverse range of tasks!
What do you think are the main benefits of using a marketplace like Malt?
The first benefit that comes to mind is the simplification of administrative processes. This includes creating estimates and invoices and declaring taxes. Malt makes all of this very simple, which is extremely helpful, especially for those unfamiliar with the French administration.
I was incredibly lucky to quickly be upgraded to the Super Malter status, a program which rewards Malt’s most active freelancers by giving them more visibility and making it easier for clients to find them. Since then, I’ve seen a striking improvement in the opportunities I’ve come across. I receive requests for much more varied and interesting projects. This “gamification” of the marketplace really motivated me to go the extra mile!
Another benefit is the daily support I receive from Camille, Community Developer at Malt. She’s always available to answer any questions, which is super important , especially for those who just joined the freelancer community.
Last but not least is the Malt Open feature: a solution that allows me to invite clients with whom I already work to join Malt’s marketplace. I love it when things are simple and organised, so you can imagine that having all my projects on one interface is a real bonus for me! It also helps me better anticipate and plan for the future.
How does a typical project unfold for you? Are you used to working remotely?
I have a client who I’ve been working with since October 2019. Before COVID-19, I went to their offices once a week and it was always a lovely experience where I built strong relationships with people I now consider colleagues. On the other hand, I have clients that I have only ever worked with remotely. Overall, I’ve had really positive relationships with clients: I’m well onboarded, I have access to all the necessary tools and I have all the information I need to perform well. I’m even invited out for drinks! Even though I’m a freelancer, I really feel like part of the team, and this in-person aspect with clients is something I’ve missed since COVID started.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve been really invested in my work, but also extremely eager to participate in live events again. One thing I’m looking forward to is taking part in a Malt Academy session. Networking is very important to me since it allows me to meet not only internationals but also French freelancers who also work in marketing and communications.