Hi, I’m Ellie Keft 👋🏽 I’m a tomboy, a *bit* of a dork, and an outdoor-loving grub.
I’m a content marketing and SEO nerd, an adventurer, a writer, and a content creator, and I tell stories to spark action. I design content marketing systems for busy businesses with big plans. I make sure your website ranks on Google. I help business owners define their core branding messages to give them direction and focus.
I started Hiatus Studios to help small regional and rural businesses find their people; their herd (the ones that moo and chew just like you do!)—the ones you started your business to serve in the first place—by using content marketing, SEO and crystal clear brand messaging.
My early professional experience: a fast-paced Aussie adventure startup
After a long and drawn-out love-hate relationship with study, and a whirlwind love affair with travel, I emerged from my mid-20s feeling qualified and experienced to dip my foot into the ‘real world’.
With three tertiary qualifications under my belt, one in sociology, one in international development and humanitarian aid, and one in digital marketing, I found myself working for a two-person media and content production startup operating in the tourism and adventure space.
In this fast-paced, independently-funded company, I had the opportunity to really get my hands dirty.
Operating on a shoestring budget in a saturated market, I was tasked with growing our social media following, managing our content and editorial direction, and determining the best digital strategies to help us expand into the psyche of the Australian adventure industry.
I designed a content production system that allowed us to increase our blog content production rate by 700% (from producing and distributing one to seven articles per week), and I managed our online community on Facebook and Instagram into a 200% increase in followers.
Working in the adventure industry was dynamic and thrilling, working with well-known adventure brands like The North Face, Arc’teryx and Merrell, to smaller community providers and adventure companies throughout Australia.
During this time however, I was definitely burning the candle at all. of. the. ends.
Driven by passion and pace, I was working too many hours, and investing too much of myself into a business that, ultimately, wasn’t mine and wasn’t providing me longterm wealth and security.
It was this a hard truth that planted the seed of entrepreneurship somewhere inside my heart.
Sometime in the future, I decided, I would build something that was mine, that would contribute to the wealth and happiness of myself and my loved ones, rather than someone else’s.
And it wasn’t a sense of ill-will or malice – I admired my boss immensely for what he’d managed to achieve. I just knew that, ultimately, his business was his, and no amount of hard work on my part was going to elevate myself and my life goals.
My professional ‘level-up’: one of Australia’s best-known charities
And so, it was while this restlessness was brewing, that I was super unexpectedly head-hunted by one of Australia’s best-known charities.
I was a few days from heading overseas for a 6 week trip to India and Indonesia to partly holiday and partly work remotely, to really try to figure out what my priorities were and where my life was going.
I thought, I’ll head overseas and do heaps of yoga, and maybe when I get back I’ll know what to do…
And just as I was finishing up in Sydney, still working far more hours than I should have been, that I an email hit my inbox from this big-shot charity organisation.
I hadn’t been actively searching for another role, but I guess somewhere the universe knew that I was ready to move on.
Fast forward a few weeks to a video-interview from a shabby hotel room on the southeast coast of India, with me fresh out of the ocean and wearing a fancy, collared shirt up-top and my dripping wet swimmers on the bottom half.
My role at the charity involved spear-heading their search-optimised content program. As I understood it, despite the will and the funding, they hadn’t quite managed to push through with a successful content marketing program.
Not one to pass up a challenge, I thought ‘why not, I’ll give it a try.’ Not to mention the International Development degree I had that really, probably needed to be utilised at some point.
This was my first experience working in an office, with hundreds of people. The charity had 500 employees throughout the world. A typical day involved conference calls with teams in places like Hong Kong, Nairobi and Manila, or with SEO and web development consultants throughout Australia.
It was tiring and overwhelming for me, but thrilling to be a part of something that was so big, established and purposeful.
During my time working there, I also kept a couple of ‘side hustle’ clients, helping with their websites, SEO copywriting and social media advertising. I realised how much I loved those relationships and the freedom of operating under my own ABN.
And so, under the surface the entrepreneurial seed started to stir…
The daily grind of working full-time in a city
After a year or so of working at the charity, I started to feel pretty worn down.
The red tape was everywhere. While the organisation was achieving massive feats, it was also quite opposed to change, which really made me feel frustrated. Progressive action was rare, and if you were the one calling for it, it was a tiring slog to gain momentum.
Not to mention the daily grind of living and working in a big city. I grew up in the country – I’m a country girl – so the incessant, dull heaviness of the city was overwhelming me.
I’d lived in the city for years, for uni. But this was different. Full-time work prevented me from taking impromptu trips out to the Blue Mountains, or down south to visit my family.
Not to mention the way full-time work controlled my energy.
If I was tired and having trouble focusing, I couldn’t just put on my activewear and go for a walk in the bush, and complete my work once replenished. It just made no sense to me, to work myself like a robot. Because, I’m not a robot, I’m a human!
A tree change to ‘The Bush Capital’, Canberra
So, Harry (my boyfriend) and I started scheming a solution.
The solution? Move out of the biggest capital city in the country, to the nation’s capital, Canberra, ‘The Bush Capital’.
We wanted a bigger house, a backyard where we could have a dog, and we wanted to be closer to nature and bush walks. And, we wanted to be able to work from home when we wanted to.
Canberra promised all of that.
And the prospect of our fresh start in Canberra also held the possibility of cultivating that entrepreneurial seed that had been planted years earlier.
So, I started to refine my ideas for business. I wanted to be able to use my skills in content marketing, to educated people about the opportunities of SEO, to choose who I worked with, and to start building something that I would be proud of and that would provide for myself and my future family.
Hiatus Studios: the very beginning
We moved to Canberra, and I launched my freelance operation, during COVID-19… not exactly the best timing!
COVID meant that I had a few cancellations, and months of shutdowns meant that marketing budgets were cut for small business owners.
So with those changes and difficulties, my plan of attack for freelancing changed a few times as I tried to adapt to the challenges.
Whilst it was originally meant to be a digital education and resource hub for Airbnb hosts, the concept for Hiatus Studios morphed as I learnt more about both what I wanted from the business and what people actually wanted help with and would pay for.
I decided to still provide resources for Airbnb hosts, but to combine my freelance services, under an ‘agency’ model.
And so, that’s where we are now – right at the very beginning of Hiatus Studios; creating great work, connecting to inspiring individuals and crafting my best life.
Hiatus Studios: a few months on
I wrote the above a few months ago, so I thought I’d give a quick update on how it’s all going, for those of you who made it all the way down to the bottom!
Since launching, and redefining Hiatus’ model and purpose, things really started to fall into place. In the space of a book weeks, I booked 4 regular clients and also booked a few one-off engagements.
Apart from my usual bread and butter of content production, content marketing, brand messaging and SEO, I’ve also been working on digital launch strategies, email list building, organic social media growth, to name a few.
I’ve learnt A LOT about time management, I’ve tried a few new productivity techniques and I’ve overall just really enjoyed having autonomy of my own daily schedule.
This coming year (2021), I’m going to be focusing on launching a podcast and two online courses, to help people manage aspects of their own digital marketing more effectively and more efficiently.
I love working with my regular clients, so will keep that up, but will still have books open for one-off type projects, such as SEO audits and cleanups, brand messaging projects or consulting sessions.
If you’d like to keep in touch, scroll down and sign up for my email list, and also head over to Instagram, where I post pretty regularly.
Keep it real!
Want to stay in touch?
For updates on what we’re up to, as well as special offers and discounts, new resource releases and more, sign up for our email list 🙂 We promise there will be NO spammage.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land we predominantly work on, the Ngunnawal people. We recognise that ‘Australia’ was founded on the dispossession of First Nations people, that sovereignty was never ceded, and that this country always was and always will be, their land. Hiatus Studios pays our rent by making monthly donations to Healing Foundation, which supports Stolen Generations survivors, their families and communities.
© Copyright Ellie Keft 2021