Is it time for you to break up with your 9-5?

Is it time for you to break up with your 9-5?

In November 2021, the United States hit a 20-year high for the rate of workers resigning from their positions. Pew Research Center survey data reported that the major reasons for resignation cited by employees were low pay, lack of opportunities, and feelings of disrespect at work. Following the big three were reasons of childcare issues, a lack of flexibility for working hours, that benefits weren’t good enough, and a desire to relocate. 

The groups most likely to quit a job were those with a lower income and young adults. Many of these workers who quit to find better pay, benefits, and job titles realized that moving horizontally on the career ladder is now generally the best way to gain the skills and experience to start moving vertically. This horizontal move is not the answer for everyone struggling to find meaning in their work, though. 

What can those who have realized that working a 9-5 office job just isn’t for them do to find satisfaction at work?

One path these non-traditionalists may consider is starting a freelance business. In the public relations industry, there is no shortage of work to be done, however, not many have a full understanding of what running a freelance public relations business entails. 

The benefits to working as a freelancer are clear to see – an ultra-flexible schedule that you make with the freedom to only work in the areas of public relations that you find interesting. Plus, unlimited days off a year, right?

Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. When leaving a salaried job to become a freelancer, one of the biggest concerns you face may be the idea that you will no longer have any of the built-in benefits of a larger employer. No matched retirement plan, no health/vision/dental insurance, and no PTO. These will all need to be funded through your business or foregone. 

If that wasn’t enough, you’ll need business knowledge and skills not standard in most public relations bachelor’s degree programs. Tracking and cutting expenses, pricing fairly but competitively, pitching yourself without the reputation boost of an employer and in turn building a solid and reliable client base and reputation with those clients are all necessary to “making it” as a freelancer. 

3 Steps to Take to Boost Your Chances 

1. Develop a strong and consistent web presence to network and market yourself 

Tip 1: Develop a strong web presence

Clients are likely to have presences on LinkedIn and Twitter. These are ideal sites to network on and promote your services by sharing portfolio pieces or professional blogs/newsletters. 

There are also numerous freelancer networking and hiring sites like Upwork, FlexJobs, and Fiverr to display your portfolio and range of services on. Many of them have direct lines of communication within the site or application to coordinate and file share with clients. 

Building an electronic portfolio and Linktree on a web hosting service like Wix, WordPress, or SquareSpace can give your business a virtual storefront. This site will have the most personalization options and should be the strongest and most cohesive example of your personal brand. 

2. Devote time to building business skills

Tip 2: Build your business skills

Take the time to learn the ins and outs of business management and accounting. This can take place on a college campus, online with a reputable skill building platform like Skillshare, or in regular meetings with a mentor. 

You don’t need to go for a degree or certification to prove to an employer that you have these skills. These skills are solely for the benefit and survival of your new business. Budgeting and time management will be key here. You need to have a firm grasp on all of your expenses and be realistic about how much you need to charge for services in order to make a sustainable income.

3. Define your niche – this is what makes your services unique

Tip 3: Define your niche

Developing a niche right out of the gates may seem counterintuitive. It may feel like you are limiting your client base and therefore income, but there are many benefits to having a niche.

A niche is a focus in one segment of the industry or in one realm of content creation. Having a defined niche means having the ability to create a semi-comprehensive list of services and pricing examples (there is always room for negotiation). It will also aid you in developing a robust and relevant portfolio and a reputation for work in that area. These will both help potential clients find you. 

As a final note, remember that building a business takes time and isn’t for everyone, but don’t be afraid to shake up your professional career. Complacency won’t bring you any satisfaction. Explore and test yourself to discover the best you.


5 Things I Learned My First Year as a Freelance Publicist

How to Start a Freelance PR Business

Innovative Public Relations is a student-led firm that is part of the award-winning and nationally certified UCM Public Relations and Strategic Communication program. Students interested in a PRSC hands-on university major and exciting career can join the program in one of two ways: (1) traditional on-campus or (2) online. 


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