Freelancers’ Survival Kit

This editorial was guest feature in esPResso, issue dated 29th March 2011 here’s the link


Becoming freelance was a deliberate choice I made to keep a foothold in the communications industry, whilst raising a family. Giving up regular income is not for the faint-hearted but there are perks: three weeks’ consecutive leave in summer, the time off between Christmas and New Year. There are career highs too. Briefing a government minister on a news item prior to a television interview, presenting at a new business pitch one week into a contract, and soaking up the atmosphere of Lehman Brothers at a launch event, are memorable. PR is a varied career and being a freelancer enhances the levels of unpredictability many times over!

After four years as a management consultancy PR, I secured a clutch of PR consultancy roles, a wave of public sector contracts, and some private business interspersed with the inevitable ebbs.  Being self-employed means your financial situation can change very quickly. But proactive freelancers can apply techniques to improve their chances of remaining buoyant during a competitive employment market; like the one we are currently experiencing. Applying these techniques regardless of the economic environment is a good idea, as they are effectively business skills and freelancing is a business of one.

1. Gain sector specific skills, experience and contacts. This is attractive to employers as they immediately feel confident in your ability to carry out a specific function. Having a broader skills base such as a second specialism that augments your core function widens your ‘recruit-ability’.

2. Any freelancer worth their salt will have a plethora of resumes, references and a bulging portfolio. An online portfolio which demonstrates your application of social media tools is ideal. Evidence of your experiences and skills as well as the contact details of your last three clients is vital; more so than for permanent employees.

3. Regular contact with recruitment agents, former colleagues and employers is always smart. Letting your network know what you are currently doing and when you will be available helps everyone to plan ahead. Social media has thrown open the doors for freelancers by providing an array of online channels to talk, network, share information and find out about opportunities. It also makes it easier to review trade press and industry news; a vital part of the freelancer’s professional development.

4. And finally, I would recommend finding a platform for self-promotion. Word of mouth networking as well as online is a great way to market yourself; so are speaking opportunities, article submissions, all of the things you suggest to clients!

A summary of the freelance survivor’s kit? Be creative, be entrepreneurial and learn the art of reinvention.

© Suzy Rigg


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