By: Rachel Osborn (@rachel__osborn )
Freelance work in the PR field has grown significantly over the years. Often, smaller organizations don’t have a need for a full-time practitioner, which makes hiring a freelancer more appealing and affordable. Freelance provides an opportunity for practitioners to specialize and grow their unique skill set at their own pace.
Starting the Freelance Journey
Whether you are in-between jobs or are already a full-time employee, freelancing may appeal to you. The flexible work hours, ability to work from home, and vast new opportunities are just some of the perks you’ll encounter when freelancing. To begin, you need to create a brand for yourself and define your specialized services. Then, set a price for yourself. Be sure to make yourself available to clients and easy to find online. This may require that you spend a little additional time maintaining your social channels and monitoring your online presence.
Consider identifying who your ideal target clients are to better focus your efforts. There are online services to help find clients, but I recommend looking at hyper-local organizations in your community first. As a new freelancer, your network may be limited, but using your current connections will be easier than trying to pitch yourself to those who don’t know you at all. It’s also easier to communicate and work with local organizations or those in your network because there is a better chance you can meet and converse in-person when necessary. Try attending local events and networking opportunities to begin connecting with potential clients or individuals who can connect you with others. Opportunities like this can be found by doing a quick Google search for community events.
Often, your ideal clients are out of reach when you’re setting foot on your freelance journey, but by gaining experience working with local organizations first, you can gain credibility and work your way up to landing those dream clients.
Freelancing as a Student
Students don’t have as much experience as the average PR practitioner, but freelance can help with that. As you begin learning more about the field, you can begin taking small side jobs with organizations creating blog content or running social channels. This will help build your resume and add to your experience, making it easier to obtain future internships or job opportunities. In addition to growing your network, you’ll be able to manage your own hours, making it easy to work around your school obligations.
As a student, you can offer your services to on-campus organizations or clubs who may need the extra assistance. Consider sending an ask email to club directors/managers to see if they’d be willing to work with you on updating or improving club newsletters or social channels. If you find that you’re lacking experience, this is a great way to start building your network and trying new opportunities. This will most likely start as volunteer-based, but as you gain experience and are able to offer more value, you can start charging for your services.
Things to Keep in Mind
While there are many perks to freelancing, like managing your own hours and building your skill set, there are a few things to consider before diving right in. First, as an independent contractor, it is your job to set aside revenue for taxes down the road. As your own boss, you need to consider saving and spending more carefully as not to put yourself in a sticky situation. Second, you need to determine your services and pricing. To do this, you may want to speak to an advisor or do some research on competing freelance practitioners in your area. Finally, when freelancing, it’s your job to make sure you are up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices. While there are many opportunities for success, freelancing can also be quite competitive. This will require time on your end to do additional research and practice improving your skills.
If you’re a full-time employee, part-time employee, a student, or just looking for extra experience, consider giving freelance a try. Remember that freelance opens a world of opportunity as long as you’re willing to work for it.
Rachel Osborn is a senior majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Anthropology. This is her first and unfortunately last year as a member of GV’s PRSSA as she’ll be graduating April of 2019. Rachel plans to continue working in Michigan and hopes to work for the national or state parks someday. In her free time, she loves to try new restaurants and play board games.