Claire Galleher is the founder of Claire Creative, which focuses on business strategy that emphasizes solopreneurs’ branding. Why don’t you tell us more, Claire?

I help people to create content that converts. In reality, that means really creating an offer that feels irresistible to your ideal clients, building a path for them to follow from discovery to sale, and creating a content bank, which means that you can stay consistent online even at busy times and when you just couldn’t be bothered, basically. So I help people to show up online in a way that gets some clients. It’s about helping to increase lead flow for solopreneurs. The problems for people who work solo are a little bit different for any kind of business with employees or VAs or assistants. So the solopreneur, the company of one, there’s a set of problems that are kind of unique to us – them. So that’s who I focus on supporting.

Claire Gallagher

Freelancer vs Solopreneur

How do you start freelancing and then shift to a business owner?

I studied graphic design and worked in corporate for a number of years. I wanted to travel, so I went to Melbourne. I was living in London for a while, I was living in Paris for a while, then Montpellier, then Barcelona and just over the years I realized that I really wanted that independence and flexibility to have time to be my own.

So, as any creative, I did a little bit of freelancing on the side. Somebody always wants a website or a logo and I liked it. When we were starting our family, I said like you know what, let’s bring this thing full time. And I was in Paris at the time and part of a big expat network so I was able to go full-time with my freelancing and then ultimately really pivoted into actually more of a business than a freelancer, meaning not just taking orders but structuring things in a way that you offer something specific. So over the years just built my business up from freelancing to be a more established company and started out with branding and websites which I did for a number of years and just in the last couple of years, and I’m sure everybody you interview says but during the COVID times – things changed.

It’s then that I really went through a process of trying to understand my most valuable contribution to people, like how can I best help people with my services, with my expertise and the way that I can create things for people? So, instead of just sticking to the branding and the website, I refocused towards content, because I think people care less about the website and more about the feeling that they get when they encounter you online. That’s the thing that I really want to cultivate for people. You want to get that gut level yes, when your ideal client meets you online so that sales become easier. Because long story short, I’m terrible at sales. So I want to give the content to do a lot of that heavy lifting for me, and that’s what I do with my clients as well.

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What’s the best way to pitch clients? 

Embrace some strategies, but you really have to make these things your own. Otherwise, it just makes you want to puke.

I’ve had a few experiences where a lot of business coaches have incredibly strong sales techniques, otherwise, I think they just don’t make it as coaches. And I’ve been on the receiving end of that a couple of times. I was roped in and realized that the only thing that I could learn from the encounter was the sales and not the actual coaching that I received. So I’ve been on the receiving end of it and I think people are sensitive to it. 

This is the reason that I pivoted into really insisting on the content aspect making people feel and getting that, yes, before you even speak. If people actually get what you do, especially if it’s a technical thing or a health thing or something with a fair amount of jargon often surrounding it, and if people really understand the value of what you do and how you can genuinely help them, that’s half the battle. And then the sales thing is almost a formality.

What is the decisive factor that makes you go from freelancer to solopreneur?

All through my corporate career, I’d always freelanced, and when I left my day job I was actually working in the gallery in Paris at the time, which was I thought, my dream job. Freelancing at that time was I would go into a company to fill a gap. I was always sitting at somebody else’s desk, basically, or the spare desk, and just doing as I was told. So freelancing in that respect was always like a job for two weeks, a job for a month, or a job for three months. 

The real truth of it is that I was freelancing and I did have a six-month engagement to cover somebody’s maternity leave and then I got pregnant. I had to go get a blood test and if you’ve ever had any kind of medical engagements, you’re sitting way longer than you hope to. I always just felt tension about having to get back to the office. I didn’t want that on an ongoing basis – for somebody else to be in control of my time.

So I decided to be a freelance service provider, working from home, taking projects that I wanted to take because at the time there was enough work coming in. And then I structured my services a little bit more and really focused on the work that I want to do. And that was the moment when it was really clear that creative wasn’t a freelance service anymore but a business that offered this and that service. A lot of digital nomads and freelancers out there very often just want that flexibility. We want that freedom and ownership of our own time and what we do with our lives. A bigger picture.

There were a lot of late nights when working and working towards a big launch or towards a big deadline and sometimes you’d be in the office until midnight. I just figured I’m not going to do that; that’s just not going to be an option.

What’s the difference between an entrepreneur and a solopreneur? 

An entrepreneur is a French word for undertaking something; you’re going for it. I think a general assumption about entrepreneurs is they’re building a business, so that would imply that you’re hiring people and that you’ll be going somewhere with it. And then ultimately maybe you’ll sell the business and it’ll be this bigger thing. It won’t be just you, you’re creating something, and that entrepreneurial thing is you might do that multiple times. You don’t just start one business, you start multiple different things and bring them to profitability. Then you say: Okay, what’s next? The solopreneur thing for me is I’m undertaking something but I don’t really want teams. I don’t want to hire people. I don’t want to be responsible for somebody’s mortgage payments and then I’ll mess it up or something. So the solopreneur thing really allows me to be flexible and there are challenges within that as well. When there are no limitations, when you’re making up all your own rules, there’s nobody holding you accountable, which is why, as a solopreneur, I’ve always got a community of others. Quite regularly throughout the year, I’ll have coaching engagements with coaches and mentors, and I think that’s something that I really love about it because I think this partnership and personal development always go hand in hand. Personal growth just comes with it, and I really love that aspect of it.

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Networking and Living Abroad

You have a mastermind in Barcelona. How do you set up a mastermind?

I lived in Paris for around five years and then we moved to the south in Montpellier for eight years. Paris is very different in that there are a lot of communities for people to do things and you can just join those. And that’s what I did for five years in Paris and it was in Paris that I really set up Claire Creative for the first time as a business. And then when I moved south, it was a much better work-life balance. But those communities just didn’t exist. There’s a lot of tourism stuff and a lot of wine tours and beach volleyball and that’s lovely, but I wanted something that was a way for people to get together, hold each other accountable for their goals, share stories, come to each other with problems specific to business, because your partner or your friends they quickly get very bored of your entrepreneurial journey if they’re not doing that themselves. So I had been part of a mastermind in Paris. That was extremely helpful to me and when I got down to south France, it didn’t exist and absolutely nothing. So I set this group up and we met once a month. It’s basically how I got half of my friends, and whenever we would get together, there was a continuity of conversations – ongoing conversation and support and genuine concern for each other. And then ultimately, the networking came out of that as well. People started hiring each other and promoting each other and recommending each other, and I just loved the spirit of it. No money changed hands at all, as the mastermind being provided was totally free. You had to RSVP, on the day, because it was only limited seats.

Barcelona, Spain - Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric

And then we left the south of France and I left my beautiful mastermind behind. So I got here and I thought I’ll just join another one. But then I thought, I’m so used to leading these rooms, I’m so used to creating this space for people that I just wanted to continue with it here. So it’s called The Entrepreneur Brain. If anybody’s in Barcelona, you can find out on So we’re hoping to do the same here. We’ve got over 100 members after one event.

It feels good to create that space as well. Every time I go to a session like this, it’s really energizing. This is a great way to force me to go to things as the leader of the group.

What is the difference between southern France and north-east Spain? 

To be honest, I really feel still very fresh off the boat, as they say. In terms of just general lifestyle, I think it’s different here in that it’s so international. My kids go to the French school and they are friends with kids from all over the world and by default then their parents become my friends. So there’s that aspect of it that it’s very international socially and I just feel like it’s a really fantastic place for opportunities.

People are very open to discussing ideas, even if it goes nowhere. People are very open to hearing what you have to say. I didn’t really find that in France. I didn’t find that as much unless you were meeting other ex-pats, or Americans. I didn’t feel like there was a default openness to opportunities. Barcelona (six months in so far) has felt like opportunities are popping up left and right. It just really feels like a very creative, entrepreneurial kind of city.

Is Paris an entrepreneurial city?

Paris feels very intimidating. Also, I was a different person back then – 14 years ago. I took my first steps into the entrepreneurial thing and I think your readers might resonate with this. A city that you visited when you were 25, and you visit the same city when you’re 35 – has the city changed or have I changed? There’s a Buddhist quote that says a man never steps into the same river twice because he’s not the same man and it’s not the same river. So your experiences can change as you grow through life. Sorry to get really philosophical about it.

Paris, France

At the time I was learning French in Paris. I was trying to understand how to use Photoshop in French when I was going into somebody else’s office. I felt like my first couple of years in Paris were all about observing and listening. I was trying to understand the culture, I was trying to be a business person and I think I just wasn’t the same person that I am now. So I think I would have a different experience if I was to go there now. It’s a sign of your personal growth as well. It’s like look at how much I’ve evolved.

Business and Brand Strategy

What is the difference between branding strategy and business strategy?

Well, I think brand strategy fits inside of business strategy. If you think of concentric circles, the big circle is your business strategy. Where are you driving this thing to? What are your money goals? What are the impact goals? Those kinds of things. It’s all of the biggest, 5-10 year planning stuff. Business strategy is often very focused on revenue and literal numbers on things, like the number of clients, the figure in the account, and the resources that you can invest, and are you investing? Is that part of your strategy? Are you looking for people to invest in you? Are you looking for funding? That’s all business strategy stuff. It’s the first thing that I do when I get a new client. I ask them: Where are you going with this thing? 

Your brand strategy is almost like a vehicle to help you get there. So the business strategy of a solopreneur who works with solopreneurs looks at the money. What kind of money do you need to be making in order for this to be feasible long term? And when we get that number, we look at how that breaks down in terms of how many clients does that mean? And if you need that many clients, what does that look like in terms of visibility? And that’s really the cold hard data of it all. Now, somebody who’s more specialized in business strategy might give you a different variation, but I think for the small company of one, you’ve got to look at what the money situation is, because you can’t really mess around with that stuff unless you have somebody paying your bills. 

Within that, there’s the brand strategy. It’s about creating something that is memorable, meaningful, and has an ideal client in mind. Then all of the decisions that you’ve made in your business strategy inform what your brand strategy needs to do. When I work with my clients, I often encourage them to focus on one ideal client, one offer and one path from discovery to sale. Unless you have a team of people or you’re investing heavily in multiple advertising for different revenue streams and you can handle all of that, I think you can really quickly burn yourself out if you’re trying to sell 5-10 different services to 5-10 different avatars. It dilutes the impact that you can actually make with a single strong offer.

I’m talking about offers here, which relates to pricing, which is a business strategy thing. 

But then the brand strategy is like how are you positioning yourself in somebody’s mind? So that’s the positioning piece. How are you being memorable to people, how do they feel when they encounter you online and how does that all come together? That’s very fluffy. With brand strategy, a lot of people hear the word brand and they think of logos, but it’s the strategy. It’s very much more about who you’re trying to reach and why should they actually pay attention to you. And even inside of the brand strategy, there’s your personal brand, which, whether you like it or not, you have got to have these days. Either you define it or it’ll be defined for you. So there’s a lot of personal branding stuff that goes on in there as well.

How do you nail your main offer?

When you tell somebody to niche or to be specific or choose one, they’re like, do I have to? And it actually takes a lot of guts to lean all the way into one thing and I’m not saying this lightly. It feels like if you’re really really specific, you’re eliminating a lot of people and loads of opportunities. But actually, the opposite is true. But people who are very early in their entrepreneurial journey, need to make terrible mistakes and have awful clients in order to see who their actual, real dream clients are. In the very early days, it’s good to have a bit of an experimental mindset and to throw some spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks, but with the awareness that this is a testing phase.

But to periodically review. This is something that we do in our mastermind. Actually, we do an end-of-year review or a mid-year review to say what the things that we’ve been working on are. Do I need to give it longer? Let’s give it another go, or let’s just call it a day on that one and move on to the next thing. Especially when you’re in your first two to three years, you will be trying out a bunch of stuff and I just always do encourage people to put a date on a review. To give something six months to really see if this is something that will fly.

The other side of that is the lifestyle aspect of it. You’re working on your own, you don’t have a team. How is this impacting your quality of life? How is this impacting how you spend your time and if you actually have any free time, because life’s too short to have mostly bad days? If your work is making you miserable, you need to make a change.

If you’re really stuck in deliverables which often happens with creative services like design, you’re going to miss out on time that you could be marketing, or miss out on time that you could be going to the beach or actually enjoying the city that you’re currently based in. Your quality of life might improve if you simplify things. 

The exercise that I do with people who are ready to get specific on this is called your most valuable contribution and it’s from a book called Essentialism. So in it, the writer talks about saying yes to too much stuff. Somebody else could probably do a better job of this. I do good websites and good branding, but I know people can do excellent brands and websites. So my most valuable contribution was always helping people with the content, getting their words out. And if you’re narrowing things all the way down to a specific offer for a specific person, the backbone of that is like what can I do better than most people? And it’s something that I personally get fulfillment from and enjoyment from. So, if you’re not outsourcing absolutely every part and being a CEO and then ultimately going to the beach or going into the golf course, you need to be doing this deliverable stuff. You need to be the one showing up, so it needs to be something that makes sense for you as an individual.

What metrics should you look at to determine if what you’re doing is successful?

If you look at data, you’re always going to get information that you can build a strategy around. If you know that your ideal client hates social media but they scroll on YouTube all the time, you’ll know that that’s a good thing for you. And if you’re doing maybe a six-month trial period showing up there, and if your website traffic is growing based on clicks through from YouTube, these are good metrics to follow. On the flip side of that, there are a lot of things I should be doing that come into people’s minds like dancing on TikTok. Personally, I’m not a dancer. But just as an example, I was doing an experiment a couple of months ago based on Gary Vaynerchuk’s video, the $0 marketing strategy, and it’s basically posting on social media 12 times a day, like 12 posts a day. I experimented with that for 30 days and my following grew. I got some decent engagement and I didn’t really get any more calls, more than I would have gotten anyway. So the metrics there were how many followers, how many likes, how many comments and those are vanity metrics. It’s like a dopamine hit that you got. I’ll keep going in a post 15 times a day tomorrow and you can get very Into that world. It actually does really pay you.

So instead of vanity metrics, I encourage people to define a north star metric. This is the thing that we want to aim for. I don’t care if people are liking or saving or following, but if I get twice the amount of lead calls that I normally get, that’s the metric that I really want to see. And if those lead calls are people who will actually convert. That’s the number that I want to see. 

Something that I discovered is that most people ultimately become my clients. They’re not following me on social channels. They might be on a mailing list or they might come from like speaking of edge or a podcast, but they go directly to my website and they convert within a matter of weeks. Knowing that, helps you to really iterate on your strategy so that you’re not wasting time on things that actually don’t feed you, they don’t pay you, and you actually are focusing on things that will really genuinely make a connection with your ideal client. Get them on a call so that you have the opportunity to help them with your most valuable contribution that you have spent so many days and nights formulating.

How can you create a lot of content quickly?

I did it with AI, templates, and automation. It does take a little bit of focus. I created a content bank. I devised a spreadsheet of about 45 personal questions like what are three things I wish I knew at the start of my business journey. And then I had my content themes, the things that I always talk about, my values, and the topics that come up in it on a practical level. I made all of these lists at the start of every week. I’d fill a couple of them out, so I’d have a five-day content schedule and then in the moment, I allow a small thought through. So the strategy of posting that much per day is to really do the thinking once because the thinking takes up a lot of energy. You do the thinking once and then you look at the prompt and then you go to your AI. After that, you go to your Canva template and you spend about 15 minutes creating 12 posts for the day In Canva.

Open AI

I did a little tutorial on my Instagram about automatically populating a bunch of posts and then you’re done for the day. But it’s cheating a little bit because it’s 12 posts, but it could be one post. It’s four posts on three platforms. And stories as well. It sounds very impressive when you say 12, but you might be able to do that. After about a week, it becomes automatic and if your vibe is social media and you love it and it makes sense for your niche, it can be very impactful. Your intention and your strategy and your North Star metric need to be in place, but it can be very effective. If you’ve got a big following online, there’s a massive amount of credibility that goes with that.

How important is it to have a good website?

The website is important because it’s the only real estate that you own online. So any social followings or other people’s communities or groups and circle groups and Slack communities and things like that – you don’t really own any of that. But your website is the place where you get to call the shots. It’s your HQ. You can have analytics there to see where people come from, and what they do when they’re there. You get to retarget them if you’re going in an ads direction, and you get to make different kinds of offers. So the website is still relevant because you own that real estate and you get to define what is there. The three steps that I talk about when I work with my clients are visibility, credibility, and conversion. The visibility piece can be social media. It can be podcast guesting, it can be doing webinars with other groups, it can be public speaking, it could even just be your local network. It doesn’t necessarily have to be social media. The credibility piece, then, social media can be in there. That’s where your social following is proving that you are who you say you are and there’s a big credibility factor in the brand, your personal brand and your online presence.

So if you’ve got a website, it doesn’t have to be massive, but if it’s branded, if you’re showing your face there, if you’ve got a couple of videos there, there’s that building of the know, like and trust factor. I think websites can help with that more than other social channels. Also, you’ve got your mailing list, and your online presence at large, you need to be findable, you need to be building trust and authority and you need to have calls to action that get you in a room with your ideal clients so that you can talk about working together. That’s basically it.

If you could take all your life experiences and give somebody one piece of advice based on those experiences, what would it be?

Your attitude towards money changes everything. I grew up in a family where we weren’t massively wealthy and money always scared the crap out of me, like having it, losing it, earning it, being near it. It made a massive difference to me when I changed my money mindset, in that earning money isn’t going to make me a bad person. I’m still not there yet, but when I started to work on that, it freed up a lot of stuff and made decision-making a lot easier so I could think about whether to invest in this or is that gonna show a return, rather than just holding on to all my money for dear life. So how you think about money changes a lot of stuff in your life.

What is an entrepreneurial mindset?

It’s this kind of more free money mindset that when you are smart with your money, you can invest it in things that will actually double or triple your investment. So just not being afraid to invest in order to increase your return. Don’t just throw your money at people who say they can help you.

Where can people find you and where can they reach out to you?

Well, you can find me clairecreativecom. You can find all my links there. I have some nice freebies there. There’s one in particular. It’s a checklist to help you increase your lead flow. It’s an old-fashioned PDF. So jump in there. You can be added to my mailing list with that. And if you wanted to jump on a no-obligation call, there are links for that as well on my site.

Claire, thank you so much.