Thinking about going alone? Why I love being a freelance PR consultant
Posted by Paul Allen on 27th May 2013 / 13 comments
It has been three years since I moved to the south coast, taking my freelance PR business with me. It has been an incredible few years, both personally and professionally, and felt like a good time to take stock of what is good (and less good, coming in a later blog) about being being my own boss.
I’d decided that both big agency life and London were no longer for me. Having worked in technology PR for most of my career, striking out on my own to work as a freelancer in tech PR was in many ways a natural choice. I say ‘on my own’, but my wife works as freelance consumer PR consultant under the Rise PR brand, although we work mostly separately.
My time as a freelance tech PR has been hugely rewarding and for the most part, hugely successful. Of course there have been the ups and downs that you get with any PR business but overall it has to go down as a ‘win’. Here are my favourite things about life as a consultant:
Work / life balance
This is a major reason for many when they take the plunge into life as a freelancer and it certainly was for me. I have three children and have seen far more of the two youngest than most dads of pre-school age children would. For this I feel really lucky, both in terms of quality time with the kids but also that it hasn’t impacted my PR work one little bit.
Starting out as a freelancer is hugely liberating, knowing you are free from the 9 to 5 grind. This is especially true when I see my Twitter feed in the morning, full of angry commuters stuck on the tube, whilst I’ve got a coffee in hand after a stress-free start to the day.
Location is irrelevant
Working as a PR freelancer means that most of my clients are comfortable using Skype, social media, file sharing systems and a whole variety of other remote-working tools. Some of them are in the US too, so the need to be ‘round the corner’ is simply not there in modern tech PR. This all means I can live by the seaside, which is pretty amazing! You can’t beat a face-to-face meeting of course and I am only a quick (ish) train journey away from London, but it has never been easier to work remotely.
Freedom to work with who I want
In my first year of freelancing I felt like I had to take each and every piece of new business that came my way – stresses of mortgage and family will do that to you. Now I’m lucky enough to work with a great set of clients and there is enough work out there to let me be a bit more choosey as to which ones I work with. With a bigger agency you mostly have to work on the clients that you are given but as an independent PR consultant you can say ‘no’ from time to time…it feels good too.
Closer to clients = more varied work
During the first part of my career in tech PR, I tended to stick mostly to the PR aspect of communications. Sure, I’d write the odd bit of web copy or occasional newsletter and more recently would get involved in the integration of PR with digital media. But it was primarily PR and media relations.
As a freelancer my clients are usually (although not always) smaller than some of the mega-brands I’ve worked for in the past – Virgin Media, Dell, Microsoft et al. This means I get much closer to their business and gain a deeper understanding of how they work, which results in better PR for them and more varied work for me. As someone who originally wanted to be a writer, the chance to create content for use across a variety of platforms and marketing disciplines is one I have really embraced.
The future’s bright, the future’s freelance
It would seem that I’m not the only freelance tech PR out there, but that’s good. There is plenty of work out there for decent PRs that are flexible, versatile and know their stuff. In fact, the freelance PR business model is one that is on the rise. I mostly work by myself, but if a need arises for specialist expertise I can call on a trusted network of other freelancers that I have built up over my career. Matching bespoke skills to a client’s bespoke needs – kind of makes sense huh?
If you’re a huge brand then the big agency model makes sense. But a start-up or challenger brand will nearly always get better value for money from a freelance PR and going down that route is a trend on the rise.
I love life as my own boss and wouldn’t think twice about recommending it to anyone else thinking of taking the plunge. Give it a go, what have you got to lose?
If you want to find out how I did it then drop me a line.
Tagged: freelance pr