Last month marked my fifth anniversary as an independent PR consultant after a career break that spanned exactly a decade. Needless to say, I have learnt an enormous amount since Welch PR launched in 2015.
While working for oneself is hugely liberating it is not for the faint-hearted. It takes guts to set up on your own, win clients and keep them. The lack of security won't suit everyone while others may miss the comradeship of a team environment. Yet the rise of the gig economy suggests that freelance careers will become more and more prolific as younger generations look to carve out lucrative career options which provide a good work life balance.
Here are my top tips for those who might be keen to start the journey…..
1. Pricing: set a price that you think is fair and stick to your guns. Never forget that you are a business not a charity. In my experience, clients who pay the least also expect the most so think twice about working with someone who questions everything or tries to bait you down. It could be sign that they don't value what you do in which case move on.
2. Media relations matters more than ever: it's never been easier to self publish but the third party endorsement provided by media coverage is very valuable and can be critical to business success by helping a firm to stand out from its competitors.
3. Values: working with clients whose values align with your own is becoming more important as the corporate world becomes more purpose driven. By being authentic and acting with integrity in your dealings with clients you will earn trust and build relationships that are more likely to last.
4. Build a network: freelance work doesn’t have to be solitary or isolating. Make sure you have an active profile on social media and networking sites like LinkedIn. Attend industry events, network by making the most of contacts and former colleagues and listen to any advice that is offered. If someone suggests meeting for coffee say yes because you never know where it will lead.
5. Have fun: perhaps the biggest surprise of my return to work is how much fun it has been. The thought of re-joining the workplace after an extended break was quite frankly terrifying. But it has been hugely stimulating to step back into the corporate world and re-assuring that it is still a place I recognise and also one where I feel I belong. I count myself lucky to work almost exclusively with lawyers who tend to be professional and straightforward. On a personal level my confidence has soared and I have met some truly lovely people along the way.