18 months ago, I resigned from my council head of comms job and set up my own freelance business. My timing could definitely have been better.

by Anna Caig

During my notice period, the Covid pandemic hit. I’d always intended to include an online element to my business, but suddenly this was all I could do. On top of all that, my long term goal of becoming a published author got an unexpected boost when my book was shortlisted for a prize and I was offered representation by a literary agent. Suddenly as well as building a new business, I had to make a lot more time for writing. Life became one enormous juggling act.

But, 18 months down the line, my business is thriving and while it’s been quite the roller coaster ride, it’s also been the most rewarding and exciting time of my life. And what I’ve realised is that my previous jobs gave me a superb foundation for this kind of freelance work. The skills and knowledge I needed to turn my passion into a successful business, I got from working in public sector comms.

There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, comms is one of those core functions that many businesses and sole traders need to buy in. Like expertise in finance, law, HR and business management, comms and marketing knowledge are vital – but nobody can know it all. So, there will always be demand for your expertise among small organisations that don’t employ in-house people in these functions, and among larger organisations that need additional resource.

Secondly, public sector comms is not known for its generous budgets. Unlike some comms people from the private sector, you’re likely to have experience in making a little go a very long way. And this knowledge is much more useful to small businesses and individuals than a ‘throw money at it’ approach.

Thirdly, most of us are used to rolling up our sleeves and getting stuck into the different elements of comms. While the specialist vs generalist debate will always rage on, and you’re likely to have more experience in one field, chances are at some point you’ve had a go at most things – from media relations to strategic campaigns to internal comms. You’ll certainly have a good understanding of how these elements relate to each other and combine to form a coherent and strategic communications package. This is not the case with comms people from all industries and it makes you a valuable asset as a freelancer.

Whatever your passion in life is – whether it be fitness, horse riding, music, food and nutrition, travel, you name it – there will be a raft of businesses and sole traders working in that field who need comms and marketing support. And as we know, when it comes to finding your audience, niche is good – anybody who tries to target everybody isn’t going to engage anybody – so honing in on what you really care about only makes your business more likely to succeed.

My passion is books – writing them and reading them. My dream was to work with authors and I have now worked with over 250, as well as some of the most prestigious writing organisations in the country, delivering comms training and mentoring, and running workshops and courses.

I’ve learnt that it’s possible to combine your professional comms expertise with the things you love most in the world – and create a successful freelance business. And, believe it or not, the perfect springboard to all of this was a job in council comms.

If you’d like to attend a workshop in spring 2022 with Anna on how to turn your passion into a successful freelance business – the practical steps she took and lessons she learnt along the way – please register your interest at annacaig@live.co.uk

Anna Caig is a freelance communications professional and you can say hi on Twitter at @AnnaCaig

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Original source – comms2point0

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