Are you thinking about working as a freelance communications professional this year? If so, you’ll want to read Ellie Buckingham’s guest post for the All Things IC blog.

Ellie is four weeks into the freelance life and is here to share her story. I’ll hand you over…

Diary of a freelancer – one month in…

After 13 years employed – 12 in internal communications – I was made redundant at the end of 2017.

As a mum of two little girls, there was only really one option that I thought would give me the flexibility and freedom to continue to be a working mum, and give me as much working as it would mum.

So in January 2018 I made the freelance leap.

Is it really for me?

It’s a question I asked myself for months leading up to redundancy.

I’m a planner. A worrier. And I’m far too prudent for my own good.

So probably on paper, freelance shouldn’t work for me. But putting all the worrying and prudence aside, when I want something badly enough I’ll move heaven and earth to get it. Strong willed, some might call me.

I’m a month in, have one paid piece of work to my name, and a lot of exciting potentials in the pipeline. And it’s been liberating. I’m loving every moment.

What’s different?

Aside from the obvious, the biggest difference I’ve found is the feeling that I’ve been unleashed. I feel like a whole new part of my brain has been unlocked.

Since becoming a mum three years ago, falling asleep has never been an issue. Whatever worries I had (and there were a fair few during redundancy) I was still out for the count the moment my head hit the pillow. But now, I lie there wide awake. My brain is buzzing with ideas… content for my blog, people to connect with, what next steps to take. I wake in the middle of the night, jot an idea down on my phone, and wake up in the morning ready to tackle it.

Somehow being employed in a busy job, dashing around getting the kids to and from childcare, and firefighting my unruly inbox, had meant I’d locked part of my brain away in a box. And now, it’s open.

Do you know how much you know?

I’ve met and connected with some fantastic people over the past couple of months who have given me amazing advice – Rachel included (thank you!).

If you’re thinking about making the move to freelance, it’s a good first step to take. From feeling alone, you suddenly have a group of people to reach out to for advice, to be your sounding board, or be a solid reference to potential clients.

During a conversation about blog content, it suddenly dawned on me that all the things I know about strategic internal communications, all the experiences I’ve had over the past 12 years, the campaigns I’ve created, and the challenges I’ve overcome, I can provide people with really valuable expertise, advice and support.

Turns out that inside that box was my professional confidence too.

Further reading on the All Things IC blog: Check out my events calendar for networking opportunities.

Being brave

It can be daunting, making that first move. Networking, particularly, can be terrifying. But it’s essential to getting the work to start rolling in.

It feels a bit like online dating. Walking into a coffee shop – or a pub, if you’re really lucky – with just someone’s LinkedIn profile picture to help you find them, and hoping that you’re going to get on, both personally and professionally.

That sort of thing has never bothered me too much. I think it comes from being an only child. I’ve had a lifetime of walking into places without any back up, and having to be brave enough to find someone to hang out with.

If you’re new to networking, hopefully you’ll find that once you’ve dipped your toe in the water, there was nothing to worry about. There’s so much to talk about in the world of internal communications, you’ll never be stuck for conversation.

Time to learn

Writing has always been my passion. My ability to put pen to paper was the reason I was selected for an internal communications role, and it’s the best part of this start-up phase of freelancing, as I’m getting to spend lots of time writing blogs.

To make sure I have more to offer a potential copywriting client than just my way with words, I’ve spent the last month learning about search engine optimisation (SEO) and how to use keywords and phrases to push websites, blogs, articles, press releases etc, up the Google rankings. I’m by no means an expert (don’t ask me about algorithms!) but having the opportunity to expand my writing knowledge has been liberating.

When I was made redundant, I was given some fantastic outplacement support, and through that I took the chance to go on training courses about how to start my own business, and how to become a freelancer.

It answered so many of my questions about how to set up, how to get paid etc. There are lots of other ways to get that information too though – like Rachel’s brilliantly informative blog series ‘how to be a communication consultant.’ If you’re going to take the freelance leap, spend some time gathering all the information you need and ask as many questions as you can.

Remember, there’s no such thing as a silly question.

If you’d like to connect with me to hear more about my freelance journey, ask me a question, or just have an internal comms natter, you can find me on Twitter @LilyRoseWrites.

Thank you Ellie, do look her up on LinkedIn. I wish you the very best of luck as you start your new chapter with Lily Rose Writes. Do keep us posted and let me know how you get on.

Further reading on the All Things IC blog:

Rachel.

Post author: Ellie Buckingham.

First published on the All Things IC blog 2 February 2018.

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