I have been working as a communications officer in an IT company. I was working three days from home and two in the office, but my employer has started putting pressure on everyone to come back to the office more or less full time. I live quite far from the office and have a long commute and cannot easily get childcare to cover the extra days in the office because I get home so late with the commute. I would have to get friends to pick up and take my son home for a couple of hours and I don’t think that is sustainable. So I am thinking of either trying to find a job closer to home – there are not many communications jobs going where I live, but I could take a different job and try to build up freelance work on the side. The problem is that I have no idea where to begin with freelancing. What would you suggest?
Things have changed since Covid and employers are wanting people to come back to the office. However, returning five days a week I can see isn’t easy with a long commute and childcare.
If flexibility is what you need, freelancing is ideal so you can work as much as you want, when and how. Transitioning into freelance work can be a rewarding endeavour, but it does require careful planning and strategy. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started:
Assess your skills and specialisation: Identify your strengths, skills, and areas of expertise within communications. This could include writing, social media management, public relations, content creation, etc. Determine what services you can offer as a freelancer.
Build a portfolio: Compile samples of your work that showcase your skills and expertise. If you don’t have existing samples, consider creating mock projects or offering your services pro bono to build your portfolio.
Define your niche: Determine your target audience and the specific industry or niche you want to serve. Focusing on a niche can help you stand out and attract clients who value your expertise.
Set your rates: Research industry standards and determine your pricing structure. Consider factors such as your experience, the complexity of the projects, and the value you provide to clients.
Create a professional brand: Develop a professional brand identity, including a business name, logo, website, and social media profiles. Your online presence should reflect your expertise and showcase your portfolio.
Network and market yourself: Reach out to your professional network, former colleagues, and industry contacts to let them know about your freelance services. Attend networking events, join relevant online communities, and use social media platforms to market yourself. Remember 75% of roles come through people who you know.
Start small and expand: Initially, you may need to take on smaller projects or offer discounted rates to attract clients and build your reputation. As you gain experience and positive feedback, you can gradually increase your rates and expand your client base.
Manage your finances: Set up a system for invoicing, tracking expenses, and managing your finances as a freelancer. Consider consulting with a financial advisor or accountant to ensure you’re handling your finances effectively.
Stay organised and professional: Keep track of your projects, deadlines and client communications. Maintain professionalism in all your interactions, deliver high-quality work and strive to exceed client expectations.
Continuously learn and adapt: Stay updated on industry trends, tools, and best practices within the communications field. Continuously seek opportunities for professional development and adapt your services to meet the evolving needs of your clients.
Remember, building a successful freelance career takes time, effort and persistence. Stay focused on providing value to your clients and continuously refining your skills and services. With dedication and strategic planning, you can thrive as a freelance communications professional.
*Liz Sebag-Montefiore is a career coach and Director of 10Eighty, a strengths-based HR consultancy. For more information, please visit www.10Eighty.co.uk.