Dubai-based, award winning PR Consultant, Jennifer Love, reflects on a life-changing 12 months 

In 2022, after 12 successful years working in both large and small-scale PR agencies, I took a leap of faith, left the corporate world behind and embarked on a dream to pursue a career as a freelance PR Consultant. 

Several months on from launching Jennifer Love PR, I’ve experienced an eclectic, exhilarating and at times somewhat daunting mix of emotions, opportunities and challenges. I firmly believe that it’s how you navigate these memorable moments that impacts your future success and staying true to my convictions has allowed me to unlock my true potential, achieve my goals and identify how I can make my life and profession work better for me.

With that in mind, and having learnt a number of vital lessons over recent months, here I share five key takeaways from my first year as a PR consultant. 

Learn to relish taking risks and embracing challenges

In the plethora of quotes, books, essays, seminars, podcasts and talks relating to taking risks in business, one message consistently stands out – and that message is growth. The two are interwoven with each other and this is absolutely true when going freelance. 

So while the thought of not having a guaranteed monthly income and navigating previously uncharted professional waters, all while shrugging off feelings of self-doubt can feel intimidating, try not to let this overwhelm you. Instead, embrace the challenge and focus on acting with conviction, believing in yourself and turning negatives into positives. 

It’s important to remember that you’re in control of this risk. Part of the joy of being a freelance PR Consultant is the opportunity to set your own rules and ultimately carve out the type of consultant you want to be and the type of clients you want to work with. 

In the initial stages there are things you can do to help make the journey more seamless. Be open to collaborating with different agencies and supporting in-house teams, while simultaneously working your own network with a view to securing direct clients. This will allow you to identify first hand where your strengths lie and how and where you feel you can thrive. 

Remember, challenges – big or small –  present opportunities for growth. When faced with an obstacle, look for the lesson that can be learnt from it, decide on a course of action and proceed with conviction. 

You might have struck out on your own as a freelancer but that certainly doesn’t mean you need to feel alone. Confide in those you trust, surround yourself with individuals who you can rely on for support and look for an inspiring mentor. 

Ongoing professional development is more important than ever 

While in the corporate world most businesses will have training programs, regular appraisals and growth and development strategies in place, as a freelancer that responsibility falls to you. Don’t underestimate the importance of empowering yourself by investing in your own professional growth and development. From online courses and webinars to mentoring and networking sessions, one-off events and intensive courses there is huge scope for constant learning and self-improvement.

Understanding your brand, the core values that your business is built upon, what you want to be known for and the types of clients and businesses you want to engage with is key. In order to clearly identify these values you might seek guidance from a branding expert or professional coach. I chose two routes, working with a life coach who supported me during the transition to freelance life and more recently, I have started Progress with Purpose, an intensive six-week program designed to help individuals reach their career goals. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me – I feel focused, motivated and absolutely aligned on my professional goals. 

Before embarking on your freelance journey it’s well worth noting that you’ll need to multitask like never before – and wear several different hats while doing so. Not only are you the consultant, you’re now the admin person, the accountant, the HR representative and more. Consider where your current strengths and weaknesses lie and concentrate on upskilling accordingly with a mix of technical and practical courses. 

Perhaps most importantly of all, take the time to identify your long-term goals and what you want your future to look like. From there you can reverse engineer the process so that you have the systems and strategies in place to achieve that goal. 

Cash Flow and money management is king

From the very beginning of your freelance career it’s crucial to arm yourself with the tools necessary to create and manage a financially sound business. 

The fluid nature of the freelance world means you often won’t know when or where your next pay cheque is coming from or exactly what that amount will be. This is where comprehensive pre-planning and forecasting comes in. Assess your pipeline of work for the next six to eight months, calculate a monthly average to establish your base ‘salary’ and then set about identifying your expenses (licenses, rent payment, external fees etc), not forgetting to set aside a percentage for savings. 

Make your network work harder for you 

The famous entrepreneur, marketing expert and author Porter Gale once said, “Your network is your net worth” and those words couldn’t be truer (the phrase later became the title of her bestselling book). 

If you’re considering going freelance as a PR Consultant, chances are you’ve already built a strong network of connections. Now is the time to really solidify those relationships. Make authentic outreach a habit (talkability is the greatest form of communication, after all), proactively re-visit established connections and reach out to new ones. Invest time and effort in LinkedIn: polish your profile, showcase your work, engage with posts that you are genuinely interested in, maintain and expand your contacts. The benefits of doing so -in terms of strengthening your support network, increasing your brand visibility, establishing mutually beneficial long-term relationships and ultimately growing your business – will be huge. 

Appreciate the wins – both big and small

Make a point of taking a step back and regularly reflecting on your achievements and the challenges you’ve overcome.  As a freelancer it’s easy to forget just how much you accomplish on your own. Appreciating your wins – both big and small – on a daily, weekly and monthly basis will help boost your sense of motivation, morale, overall performance and awareness of just how far you’ve come.