Friday, June 20, 2014

"What is it that you actually do?" - The answer to your question about me

If you read this blog and follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you'll probably have noticed that I've been travelling around a bit recently. Between pictures of wine, mountains, beaches and rhinos, I think people have become a little confused about what exactly it is that I do for a living.

The look I get when people want to know what I do for a living.

Actually, I'm sure this is the case, because every time I meet someone I know from the internet in real life, I get asked the same question: "What is it that you actually do for a living?" The other question is "How do you eat so much?"

So let me give you a little overview of Natalie, The Professional.

I started working very young, at the age of 14. I presented on KTV after school and on weekends for 8 years, before moving on the become a TV presenter for the Afrikaans celeb gossip show JIP, on DSTV's MK, where I worked for another 3 years.

In between this, I graduated from high school and in my first year, signed up to film school. I wanted to be a music video director. But, after one semester, I realised that the part I enjoyed most about film school was doing the makeup and wardrobe styling, so I dropped out and went to makeup school.

I received a Diploma in Makeup Artistry and applied for an internship in London, assisting a famous makeup artist. After three months in London, I was back in South Africa and I started my career as a freelance makeup artist. Between the ages of 19 and 23, I worked on the sets of magazine shoots, TV shows, music videos and more.

In 2010 and moved to Cape Town, commuting to Joburg for shoots and trying to make a career for myself in the makeup scene here. Somewhere along the line I became increasingly interested in the world of digital and social media. I'd started this blog about a year before, and had been playing around on Twitter and Facebook for a while. I also realised the potential social media had for brands and connecting with their consumers and I was very interested in working more in this field.

I started my first office job at Positive Dialogue Communications in Woodstock in 2012, where I worked for a year as their Social Media Account Manager, before landing my dream job at Cape Town Tourism, handling their Social Media and creating content for their blog.

But I have always been a freelancer at heart. I always have more than one project going at a time and I find it difficult to settle into an office environment. It became more and more challenging to manage my blog, which has been growing consistently over the years, and an office job. Working at Cape Town Tourism, I was part of a very corporate environment, and while some people may thrive in a world of protocol and spreadsheets, I became despondent with processes and I needed a break from the corporate world.

With a big leap of faith and a good dose of sleepless nights, I jumped back into the world of freelance. I was nervous and excited and I wasn't sure where I was going to get my next paycheque, but I felt free and invigorated and I was ready to work hard.

Enter Mariette du Toit- Helmbold, outgoing CEO at the time when I started at Cape Town Tourism and owner of boutique destination marketing agency, Destinate. I have known Mariette through social media since I first moved to Cape Town, and I was disappointed to discover that she was leaving Cape Town Tourism at the time that I was joining.

The day after I left Cape Town Tourism, Mariette and I met for coffee. I still hadn't signed a single client. The timing was perfect, she explained, as she was about to launch a major campaign for Stellenbosch Wine Routes. I jumped at the chance to work with her and over the next couple of months we worked closely with the Stellenbosch Wine Routes team and iambassador on the #Stellenblog campaign.

The campaign was a huge success.

Following the launch of the Stellenblog blog platform in January, the #Stellenblog campaign saw South African and international bloggers join Stellenbosch residents in sharing content from the area. On social media, the campaign reached almost 4.7-million users, showing up in timelines over
37.7-million times. During the campaign period, the #Stellenblog hashtag was used in 4 700 tweets by almost 1 000 users.

I have been working with Mariette and Destinate ever since, on projects with Reunion Island, Nelson Mandela Bay, Stellenbosch and more in the pipeline.

In between, I've worked on smaller social media projects, setting up content calendars for brands and writing content for websites. I work with agencies, creating social media strategies, writing content and managing accounts for big events, like the J&B Met.

I've been travelling more through my blog, since I can work remotely and I've enjoyed some truly epic experiences. I just recently booked a ticket to Greece and next month I'll spend a week in beautiful Knysna for the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival.

I also still do some makeup work, for weddings and small shoots.

So when people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I work in Destination Marketing. I am a Destineer. A blogger. A social media girl. A traveller. What I do for a living is freelance. And it's the most fun I've ever had.


  1. Very interesting to read Natalie. You had the coolest-interesting jobs at a very young age and you are still dooing the coolest-interesting job. And that look is cool n pretty too.

  2. Natalie, this is such an interesting post. So glad you shared your career story with us and what it is you get up to. Your photo made me laugh-I think that's the same expression that crosses my face when people ask me what I do. As a freelancer and content creator I do a whole variety of things, all of which seem like digital dark arts to those not in the field. Happy destineering and enjoy the adventures. :)

  3. Nice een Nats, klink amazing! Enjoy en sterkte..leka travel.
    Dirk Britz

  4. Well done beautiful girl. Very proud of you.

  5. Freelance is the best!
    You're doing it all so well.

  6. Yeah us corporate type of females who read your blog during our lunch hour secretly envy you and all your freelance work/travel/treats. Best of luck *