5 Things I Learned in My First Year as a Freelance Publicist
Last year I was let go from my job and living in an area where no one was hiring—especially in the PR field. Considering my passion and experience was in public relations, I chose to take it upon myself to create my very own career path as a freelance publicist. Some make a brave, planned jump into consulting, while others are more forced into it due to circumstance. My foray into freelance work started without any clients and no experience in the business aspects of independent contracting. Happily, a year later I have successfully built a freelance career. I have four consistent clients, and have had to turn down projects I can’t fit into my schedule. Making the shift into solopreneurship has been one of the most terrifying and rewarding experiences of my life. I’m definitely looking forward, but every now and then it helps to look back on everything I’ve learned.
1. I BECAME COMFORTABLE WITH PITCHING MYSELFAs a business professional, and especially when you run your own business, it’s so important to keep track of – and stay in touch with – your contacts. For freelancer work, these existing relationships are often the lead to your next client referral. As a natural introvert, the idea of having to sell myself to potential clients used to give me anxiety. But I had to force myself out of my comfort zone and become comfortable with networking and asking for work in order to grow my business, So how did I start to build my business? Thanks to Google and LinkedIn I was able to get the contact information of businesses and individuals I wanted to work with. Then, I wrote an email explaining how I believed I could help, as well as highlighting previous experience, including my contact details and resume. I also reached out to former contacts and let them know about my new circumstances and latest areas of expertise.
2. I FIGURED OUT MY PERSONAL BRANDBefore my freelance career, I didn’t fully understand the idea of personal branding. To be honest, I would roll my eyes whenever someone would say, “you are your brand.” Now I understand that when you work for yourself, this statement couldn’t be more accurate. Starting a freelance business really makes you realize what it means to be your own brand. Over the past year, I cleaned up my social media presence by separating my personal and professional accounts. On my business profiles, I only share professional articles. I also branded my website, and learned to talk about my experience and services in a consistent way. I used Tumblr to share my portfolio, including press clippings, and Canva to create my logo and other fun, fun digital brand assets, which made a huge difference in my professional brand for very little cost.
AS A NATURAL INTROVERT, THE IDEA OF HAVING TO SELL MYSELF TO POTENTIAL CLIENTS USED TO GIVE ME ANXIETY. BUT I HAD TO FORCE MYSELF OUT OF MY COMFORT ZONE AND BECOME COMFORTABLE WITH NETWORKING AND ASKING FOR WORK IN ORDER TO GROW MY BUSINESS,At my previous PR firm, I never worried about my social media presence being a direct means to grow client work; we weren’t allowed to add clients on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. But as an independent consultant, your online and social media efforts must help prospective clients to discover you and desire to contact you.