Thinking about going alone? Why I love being a freelance PR consultant

Posted by 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

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Paul Allen

12 October 2015

Hi Nadine. Thanks for nice comments :) All I can say is that you should just take a deep breath and do it. The reality is so much less daunting than the thought of it. When I started I had a client to launch with, which is a big help. If I hadn't had that, then it would have been scarier I'm sure. But sounds like you too have some options there, and I can honestly say that the first client to win is always the hardest. If you have someone wanting to work with you already, that's an amazing start, so why not give it a go? If you want to pick my brain about specifics, then by all means give me a bell sometime, I'm happy to help. Good luck!


01 October 2015

Hello to my new inspiration! Thank you for the read! If it's not too much to ask I would love to hear a bit more of how you did it ! I am currently doing a very mundane and unappreciated admin role which very much sucks but it was a step into the other side after being a freelance promoter/brand ambassador for years.. It's been a year now and I've finally had enough of the small office full of hormonal women! It didn't take me long to find your page after searching for more info on freelance PR which is something that has tickled my interests for a while. I have been asked to PR for artist associates of mine in the past with the offer still standing but the thought was too daunting at the time. Please let me know if you have any tips ? Many thanks, Nadine

Paul Allen

03 September 2015

Hi Ben, All I can say, is just go for it! It's honestly not as daunting as people build it up to be. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, it is as simple as that, and you can go back to a permanent role. It sounds like you have everything in place that you would need, so get that resignation letter in! Good luck. Paul


10 August 2015

Hi, i hope you are well and don't mind my message, you did mention to drop you a line after the read :) I am currently about to take the plunge back into the freelance world of PR, Fashion though so a little diferent to tech. PR is PR though right? If you are good at it. At the moment I am working for a company (I am based in Dubai, originally from London) and i feel i have reached a plateau, it's a boutique agency and the owner has no involvment in my work i have basically built the Fashion department for him for a fraction salary of what he is making each month as a retainer from each client, we have around 30 now and started with just 3, I mean great for him but now i see how it works it only makes sense for me to go out alone. I have great relationships with the press & influencers/bloggers most are social friends who have already hinted the support and clients that don't really want to work with anyone else in the company.. I suppose i am just reaching out for any other advice you may want to share. Dubai isnt a huge place and I get around socially very easily, I suppose my biggest fear is not making enough money but on the other hand as long as i am making what i earn now anything else is a bonus, right? Hope this message finds you well and heres to maybe sharing a few more along the way. All the best, Benn Robinson

Sew Modiste

19 May 2015

I did a short course in freelance journalism, and although I love writing and research, I didn't see that as a path to take for the long run. Apparently free lance PR is very similar, more in demand and it has more to it than just writing. As an event planner with a sales background, I 'm thinking this could be a goo path to take. Thanks for sharing.

Caitlin Doucette

22 January 2014

I am a recent PR graduate and am thinking of trying to do some freelance work. I currently hold a full time job, so I am looking to do it part time for now. DO you have any great tips to get started?


13 October 2013

What a great read! Have been in the industry for the past 15 years and have been trying to get the courage to leave my job to start up on my own. Am determined to do this ASAP- am really positive about it. I'd also love to find a mentor- someone who is running their own pr business - any ideas how I go about finding one?


16 September 2013

I would like to know as a foreigner who wanted to be freelance in London how to get through the administration about being officially freelancer. Do we get a number ? Or anything like that. Thank you for your help


19 August 2013

great post! i'm trying to take the plunge to freelance pr so i'm searching for tips, pros and cons, so i will keep coming to this blog to look for more inspiration and more posts on this subject. thanks!

Katherine Kowalski

28 May 2013

I completely agree with this! I'm another ex-big agency PR consultant who is now freelance and living 50 yards from the beach. It's a wonderful life and the work is more rewarding too. Here's to freelancing!

Paul Allen

28 May 2013

Thanks guys - definitely no looking back! Like anything it has its ups and downs but wouldn't swap it now.

Steven Hart

28 May 2013

Don't think I've met a freelancer who regretted their decision to take the plunge. So much more freedom to run the business in your own way. Plus it's always good to have the opportunity to collaborate and learn from other freelancers too!

Marc Duke

28 May 2013

Great piece really nice to read of a fellow freelancers experience.