Workers Quit Jobs In Droves To Become Their Own Bosses

The pandemic has unleashed a historic burst in entrepreneurship and self-employment. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are striking out on their own as consultants, retailers and small-business owners.

The move helps explain the ongoing shake-up in the world of work, with more people looking for flexibility, anxious about covid exposure, upset about vaccine mandates or simply disenchanted with pre-pandemic office life. It is also aggravating labor shortages in some industries and adding pressure on companies to revamp their employment policies.

The number of unincorporated self-employed workers has risen by 500,000 since the start of the pandemic, Labor Department data show, to 9.44 million. That is the highest total since the financial-crisis year 2008, except for this summer. The total amounts to an increase of 6% in the self-employed, while the overall U.S. employment total remains nearly 3% lower than before the pandemic.

Entrepreneurs applied for federal tax-identification numbers to register 4.54 million new businesses from January through October this year, up 56% from the same period of 2019, Census Bureau data show. That was the largest number on records that date back to 2004. Two-thirds were for businesses that aren’t expected to hire employees.

This year, the share of U.S. workers who work for a company with at least 1,000 employees has fallen for the first time since 2004, Labor Department data show. Meanwhile, the percentage of U.S. workers who are self-employed has risen to the highest in 11 years. In October, they represented 5.9% of U.S. workers, versus 5.4% in February 2020.

The self-employment increase coincides with complaints by many U.S. companies of difficulties—in some cases extreme—in finding and retaining enough employees. In September, U.S. workers resigned from a record 4.4 million jobs, Labor Department data show.

Kimberly Friddle, 50 years old, quit her job as head of marketing for a regional mortgage company near Dallas in September 2020. Her daughters in the sixth and eighth grade were struggling with attending school virtually, and, months into the pandemic, both were showing signs of anxiety. Although her employer was understanding, she wanted flexibility to provide them help without juggling Zoom meetings and projects.

Ms. Friddle planned to stay home indefinitely with the support of her husband, a pharmaceutical-company executive. But when a friend contacted her the next month, she saw an opportunity.

The friend sold home décor items on Amazon.com from his home in Canada, and Covid-related border restrictions were making it difficult to process returns. When he explained what he needed—primarily, someone to examine returned items for damage and ship them back to Amazon—Ms. Friddle felt the work could be a good challenge and a chance for her older daughter, Samantha, to gain some work experience.

They began processing returns for him steadily. When other Amazon sellers he knew needed help with warehouse-related tasks that were also made harder by the pandemic, he referred them to Ms. Friddle.

Now she runs an Amazon logistics, warehousing and fulfillment business full time from the family’s home outside Houston and rented warehouse space nearby. Her older daughter works with her about 10 hours a week, and Ms. Friddle recently hired an assistant. She hopes to expand her services to Walmart vendors.

In July, the family’s monthly income returned to roughly what it was when she worked in marketing, Ms. Friddle said. Though the decision to leave that job was an emotional one, she said, a change after 27 years has given her new energy and confidence in addition to the flexibility.

“I didn’t have a plan when I left,” she said. “I wasn’t giving enough attention to the needs of my family. I wasn’t giving enough attention to the job that needed to be done. I felt like I was failing everywhere.”

Now, “I feel so successful and I wake up every day like, ‘I wonder what’s going to happen today.’ ”

Through the late 19th century, the majority of Americans worked for themselves, as farmers or artisans. With new technology such as electric lighting, manufacturing expanded, and many people left the field for the factory floor. They landed in an environment of strictly defined work hours and hierarchies—workers overseen by managers overseen by executives.

By the time Covid-19 arrived in the U.S., the advent of apps, websites and companies catering to entrepreneurs and freelancers was already giving employees options.

Then, the pandemic spurred some people to “pause and re-evaluate their priorities,” said Aaron De Smet, a McKinsey & Co. senior partner and consultant on labor trends. “When you have a big event where everybody takes stock, and trends are already in place, people working for an employer never thought of doing freelance but now when [they] think about it, why not?”

Marcus Grimm, a 50-year-old in Lancaster, Pa., worked at advertising agencies from the time he finished college. For years, he toyed with freelancing. “I had always considered it, but literally just never had the guts to make the move,” he said. “I was scared I would lose sleep every night worrying about my next dollar.”

Early in the pandemic, Mr. Grimm, a married father of two grown children, was laid off. He logged onto Upwork, a website that connects freelance workers from a wide range of industries with potential clients. He fielded several assignments doing ad campaigns for big companies, charging a low hourly rate.

Business flowed in. He has steadily raised his rate, to $150 an hour. Mr. Grimm said he now earns more than in his old job, which paid $130,000 a year.

His favorite part is not having to deal with corporate politics or any bureaucracy. He can go kayaking in the middle of the day.

“I’m the one who finds the client, I’m the one who does the work, and I’m the one who deals with any of the problems that come up,” he said.

One client offered to hire him full-time, but he declined, Mr. Grimm said. “I told them, ‘I’ve seen the light.’”

Etsy Inc., an online marketplace for individuals to buy and sell items, says it had 7.5 million active sellers as of Sept. 30—up 2.6 million from that time in 2019. Eight in 10 are women. Its surveys indicate more than 4 in 10 of the new sellers started their businesses for reasons related to the pandemic, including for some the need to stay home to care for family members.

On a recent investor call, Upwork Inc. Chief Executive Hayden Brown, citing a September 2020 survey, said: “A new type of career path has emerged, with half of the Gen Z [age 18 to 22] talent pool actually choosing to start their careers in freelance rather than full-time employment.”

Based on a summer 2021 survey, Upwork concluded that 20% of people working remotely during the pandemic were considering leaving their jobs for freelance work.

At LinkedIn, the number of members who indicate they are self-employed by listing services from a field called “Open to Business” has quadrupled since the pandemic began, to 2.2 million, the company said. Nearly half of the new entrepreneurs have a college degree and nearly 4 in 10 a postgraduate degree.

Enterprises founded by women have grown by 27% and male-founded ones by 17% since the pandemic started, according to a LinkedIn analysis of user profiles. Meanwhile, Labor Department data show that in the two years through July, the number of self-employed female workers actively at work has grown 4.3%, while the number of self-employed male workers is down 1%, according to a Pew Research analysis.

Limited child-care or commuting options have helped spur some of the moves.

Matt Parrish of Raleigh, N.C., worked for a company that built retaining walls since graduating from the University of Florida roughly a decade ago. An engineer who managed projects, Mr. Parrish, 31, grew tired of dealing with the bureaucracy, such as when he wanted to hire someone.

“I enjoyed the work I was doing, but I definitely felt like I was getting more and more pigeonholed because it was such a large company,” he said.

He also wanted a schedule allowing more time with his newborn daughter. His employer provided just two weeks of paid parental leave, he said.

Mr. Parrish resigned in August and went into business as a consultant to homeowners and commercial-building owners on building retaining walls for construction projects. Being able to work from home and care for his daughter throughout the day was a primary reason, he said.

Instagram, YouTube and TikTok have provided new avenues to raise cash for aspiring entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, Robinhood Markets Inc. and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have spurred a new generation of traders, some so successful they have quit their jobs to trade.

Josh Dorgan, who is 32, started trading cryptocurrencies in 2017 with a straightforward goal: to pay off the mortgage on a house he and his wife had bought in Omaha, Neb., as fast as possible.

Mr. Dorgan continued working as a pediatric nurse while trading litecoin, ether and XRP. His trading, plus advisory roles he took on with crypto companies, started taking more time, hard to balance with his job managing the dialysis unit at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha.

When he told his wife, also a nurse, he wanted to quit and focus just on investing, she insisted they talk to a financial adviser first. With a professional’s signoff, he quit the hospital job in August 2020. He said his trading profits the following week equaled his previous full-year salary.

He tries to confine his work—including advising digital-currency firms and creating content for his nearly 200,000 Twitter followers—to between 8:30 a.m. and noon, leaving time to spend with his 10-month-old son, golfing and visiting a lake house he and his wife bought recently.

“You don’t just get into the markets and make money out of thin air,” said Mr. Dorgan. Yet even in volatile trading conditions, he said, he feels far less pressure than when he was juggling investing with a full-time job: “When I’m at a red light, I don’t feel like I’m rushed to get home anymore.”

Share Your Thoughts

Are you tempted to quit your job and start your own business? Join the conversation below.

Part of the current shift to self-employment might prove temporary. The boom in self-employed day traders during the dot-com hoopla of the late 1990s deflated along with the stock bubble.

A sharp rise in savings—boosted by a federal supplement to unemployment benefits, most recently $300 a week, that was paid for as long as 18 months of the pandemic—provides some individuals a financial cushion to pursue self-employment. As they run down those savings, some might again want a regular paycheck, economists say.

In addition, if labor shortages ease, freelancers could face stiffer competition from companies in landing clients. Finally, if the pandemic recedes, so might one piece of the impetus to leave regular work in favor of self-employment. Five percent of unvaccinated adults say they left a job because of a vaccine requirement they opposed, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in October.

Robert Spencer, 55, repaired bridges for Washington state’s government for nearly a decade as a welder and fabricator. Mr. Spencer, who had a bout of Covid-19 early in the pandemic, left the job in October because he wasn’t willing to comply with a vaccine mandate for state employees.

As his end-date approached, Mr. Spencer, who had worked for himself before joining the state, began buying supplies to run his own fencing business and lining up residential projects.

His wife now handles billing and accounts payable and receivable. He says the two will need to make financial adjustments in anticipation of a winter slowdown in home improvement.

If the state should change its rules and let everybody come back, “then obviously I would, because of the benefits,” Mr. Spencer said. “But until then—I’m not counting on it—I plan on doing what I’m doing now. I enjoy it.”

By: Josh Mitchell & Kathryn Dill

Source: Workers Quit Jobs in Droves to Become Their Own Bosses – WSJ

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Work-Life Balance: What Really Makes Us Happy Might Surprise You

Finding the right work-life balance is by no means a new issue in our society. But the tension between the two has been heightened by the pandemic, with workers increasingly dwelling over the nature of their work, its meaning and purpose, and how these affect their quality of life.

Studies suggest people are leaving or planning to leave their employers in record numbers in 2021 – a “great resignation” that appears to have been precipitated by these reflections. But if we’re all reconsidering where and how work slots into our lives, what should we be aiming at?

It’s easy to believe that if only we didn’t need to work, or we could work far fewer hours, we’d be happier, living a life of hedonic experiences in all their healthy and unhealthy forms. But this fails to explain why some retirees pick up freelance jobs and some lottery winners go straight back to work.

Striking the perfect work-life balance, if there is such a thing, isn’t necessarily about tinkering with when, where and how we work – it’s a question of why we work. And that means understanding sources of happiness that might not be so obvious to us, but which have crept into view over the course of the pandemic.

Attempts to find a better work-life balance are well merited. Work is consistently and positively related to our wellbeing and constitutes a large part of our identity. Ask yourself who you are, and very soon you’ll resort to describing what you do for work.

Our jobs can provide us with a sense of competence, which contributes to wellbeing. Researchers have demonstrated not only that labour leads to validation but that, when these feelings are threatened, we’re particularly drawn to activities that require effort – often some form of work – because these demonstrate our ability to shape our environment, confirming our identities as competent individuals.

Work even seems to makes us happier in circumstances when we’d rather opt for leisure. This was demonstrated by a series of clever experiments in which participants had the option to be idle (waiting in a room for 15 minutes for an experiment to start) or to be busy (walking for 15 minutes to another venue to participate in an experiment). Very few participants chose to be busy, unless they were forced to make the walk, or given a reason to (being told there was chocolate at the other venue).

Yet the researchers found that those who’d spent 15 minutes walking ended up significantly happier than those who’d spent 15 minutes waiting – no matter whether they’d had a choice or a chocolate or neither. In other words, busyness contributes to happiness even when you think you’d prefer to be idle. Animals seem to get this instinctively: in experiments, most would rather work for food than get it for free.

Eudaimonic happiness

The idea that work, or putting effort into tasks, contributes to our general wellbeing is closely related to the psychological concept of eudaimonic happiness. This is the sort of happiness that we derive from optimal functioning and realizing our potential. Research has shown that work and effort is central to eudaimonic happiness, explaining that satisfaction and pride you feel on completing a gruelling task.

On the other side of the work-life balance stands hedonistic happiness, which is defined as the presence of positive feelings such as cheerfulness and the relative scarcity of negative feelings such as sadness or anger. We know that hedonic happiness offers empirical mental and physical health benefits, and that leisure is a great way to pursue hedonic happiness.

But even in the realm of leisure, our unconscious orientation towards busyness lurks in the background. A recent study has suggested that there really is such a thing as too much free time – and that our subjective wellbeing actually begins to drop if we have more than five hours of it in a day. Whiling away effortless days on the beach doesn’t seem to be the key to long-term happiness.

This might explain why some people prefer to expend significant effort during their leisure time. Researchers have likened this to compiling an experiential CV, sampling unique but potentially unpleasant or even painful experiences – at the extremes, this might be spending a night in an ice hotel, or joining an endurance desert race.

People who take part in these forms of “leisure” typically talk about fulfilling personal goals, making progress and accumulating accomplishments – all features of eudaimonic happiness, not the hedonism we associate with leisure.

The real balance

This orientation sits well with a new concept in the field of wellbeing studies: that a rich and diverse experiential happiness is the third component of a “good life”, in addition to hedonic and eudaimonic happiness.

Across nine countries and tens of thousands of participants, researchers recently found that most people (over 50% in each country) would still prefer a happy life typified by hedonic happiness. But around a quarter prefer a meaningful life embodied by eudaimonic happiness, and a small but nevertheless significant amount of people (about 10-15% in each country) choose to pursue a rich and diverse experiential life.

Given these different approaches to life, perhaps the key to long-lasting wellbeing is to consider which lifestyle suits you best: hedonic, eudaimonic or experiential. Rather than pitching work against life, the real balance to strike post-pandemic is between these three sources of happiness.

By: Lis Ku , Senior Lecturer in Psychology, De Montfort University

Source: Work-life balance: what really makes us happy might surprise you

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How To Deal With Toxic Workplaces and Office Cliques

Workplace cliques can affect your career progression and even your mental health. Here, women describe how they moved on from toxic workplace environments.

Remote working left us all feeling more distant from our work colleagues – but for some, a return to the office doesn’t mean restarting much-missed friendships.

43% of workers say that cliques are a feature of their workplace, and while not being invited out for lunch might seem like a relatively small slight, it can have deep emotional repercussions. Far from being an easily ignored snub, exclusion from workplace cliques can have a major impact on career progression, mental health, and work wellbeing.

Gaslighting at work: “I had the worst experience with my boss, but I learned one thing from it”

Rachel*, 32, lives in south-west London. She was forced to go freelance after she was the victim of an office clique while working in the magazine industry.

When I joined an interiors magazine, the office was painted as a female-led creative workplace. In reality, it was an extremely vicious environment. I quickly noticed that at lunchtimes the same groups of girls would dash off together. When I asked if I could join them, it became apparent that I wasn’t welcome. It was an environment fuelled by backstabbing, and I found that everyone’s workload [was based on] whether or not they fitted in with the dominant crowd.

There was a particularly bossy woman who was definitely the queen bee in our part of the office. I could deal with not being invited to lunch, but when she started actively sabotaging me – deleting files and unnecessarily returning all of my work and telling me to start again – I realized that I was never going to progress in that office. I was often the last person to receive meeting notifications or press releases, which made my job an awful lot harder. I pride myself in always trying to be kind and genuine, so I couldn’t see what I’d done wrong.

It wasn’t just my peers who were very cliquey. My manager was also in the group of women who excluded me, which meant that I felt powerless. Although I eventually went to HR, I was ultimately told that I was making up issues and was unfit for work. Looking back, it seems ridiculous that something like that was allowed to go on. It made every day horrible and going into the office unbearable.

Being excluded really impacted my mental health. I wanted my career to be a reflection of my work, not who I’d built a fake relationship with. The office was toxic, and I finally decided that I would rather work on my own and went freelance. After having such a terrible experience with workplace cliques, I’ll never go back to an office if I can avoid it.

Amber*, 33, from Shropshire made the decision to leave a large PR agency after feeling excluded from a workplace clique.

My previous workplace was utterly toxic. The office was dominated by a group of young and predominantly female graduates who ruled the roost in terms of popularity, praise and the unwavering support of the managing director. The office environment was so volatile that you never knew what to expect everyday – from huge celebrations with gifts and free lunches to being berated by your boss.

I realized how cliquey the office environment was when I found out that there was a separate group chat for about 25 employees to plan nights out and social activities. The group was deliberately hidden from other staff, and I’ve since heard that it was regularly used to discuss the shortcomings of colleagues.

On one occasion, a co-worker and I discovered that there was a bottomless brunch being organized – we made it known that we wanted to be involved, but on arrival we were essentially stood up. It turned out that our colleagues had deliberately gone to another venue without telling us.

Unfortunately, there was no HR department for the business, as the managing director claimed that he could handle it himself. However, when I went to him with a complaint he defended the behaviour of my cliquey co-workers. Knowing that I was being deliberately excluded was awful. It made me feel that I was doing something wrong – that I was unlikeable and unworthy of friends at work. My mental health was in tatters.

Days after I went on maternity leave, my parents and husband all commented that the ‘old Amber’ was back. It made me realize how terrible my workplace was, and the impact that it was having on me, and I decided not to return to my job. I now work for a much smaller company, which has been wonderful.

Sophia Husbands is a career coach and founder of The Go Getter. She shares advice on dealing with a cliquey workplace.

1) Communication is key – you need to demonstrate that you are in a place of business and are here to get a job done. Try taking individuals from the group aside and identifying common work objectives that create shared ground.

2) Try to find commonalities with colleagues, both within and outside of the clique. Even working remotely, you can send people a message to say ‘good morning’ or ask them about themselves. This can also be really helpful in changing the clique’s perception of you – you may find that they are basing their behavior on preconceived notions, perhaps because of jealousy.

3) Remember that you can still be empowered as an individual – you don’t have to be part of a clique to excel in your career. If you find that work cliques are impacting your self-esteem, try creating a ‘success file’ of your achievements. These don’t have to be just professional – it could be being a good aunt and taking your nieces to a museum for the first time, or a thank you note from someone that you’ve mentored. This will help to boost your confidence and remind you that you are a valuable team member.

4) Approaching HR or a manager can be a sensitive situation. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, consider first speaking to someone who has some distance from the situation. It could be a colleague from another department that you trust and respect. This will allow you to get neutral insight before making a decision on whether to approach a manager or HR. If you do decide to escalate a complaint then remember to be factual rather than emotional – you don’t want to be caught in a ‘he-said she-said’ scenario, so focus on providing information and context.

5) If you believe that you are being excluded at work as a result of discrimination you should raise this in a way that feels comfortable and safe to you. It’s best to take this to HR or a senior person that you trust – in many cases you may be able to do so anonymously. Often issues of racism or sexism are a problem with company culture and can have a very damaging impact on your mental and physical health, so HR have a duty to protect you.

By: Katie Bishop

Source: How to deal with toxic workplaces and office cliques

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3 Initial Steps To Doing Your Own Public Relations and Getting Excellent Results

3 Initial Steps to Doing Your Own PR and Getting Excellent Results

It’s a classic symbiotic relationship. Entrepreneurs need exposure in the press and the media need information from brands to fill their pages. It should be a balanced partnership then yes? Well… not always. The problem comes when you’re simply not giving the media what they can use, i.e. what’s of interest to their particular readers.

Often this is down to not understanding how journalists work and what they want, but also it can be down to laziness on the part of inhouse or agency PRs who persist in sending mass mailouts to already overserved press.

You may not believe it, but It’s actually surprisingly easy to be featured in the press. And you don’t have to have budgets large enough to employ the services of a PR agency which can easily cost £5 to £10K plus a month plus disbursements (expenses) just for the most basic of services.

You just need to follow the following steps.

1. Select the media titles your potential and existing audience actually reads.

How?  Well, try taking a sample of your social media followers and have a look at what media they are following. That’s an easy start. And don’t be afraid to pop a post up asking them to name or even vote for their favourite titles too.

Also conduct a simple Google search for media titles that reach your existing and potential customers and industry sector.

There are professional media databases which you can use to compile media lists but these can be expensive. If your budget is tight you could consider buddying up with another entrepreneur and splitting the cost.

Be reassured though, it’s really not about the AMOUNT of titles you target, but targeting the RIGHT ONES – i.e. the media that’s actually consumed by your target audience (you of course need to have defined this first).

Think beyond just national newspapers and magazines too. Consider TV and radio programmes, podcasts, social media influencers, smaller local/regional titles. And also titles that might not at first seem an obvious choice. For example, if you have a food or drinks brand, depending on its type and price points, you could consider wellness titles, health & fitness titles, luxury lifestyle blogs, TV programmes with a focus on nutrition or weight loss, parenting titles, supermarket magazines.

Don’t stick your nose up at these – most, including Waitrose’s monthly magazine actually have amazing reach, a fantastic reputation, wonderful production values and loyal readers.  And in the UK, Asda’s magazine has one of the highest circulations and readerships of all print titles.

2. Find the contact details of the best person to approach.

What you also need to do, is find the names and email addresses of the best editors and journalists to actually contact.

This again isn’t as hard as you may think. Most publications have what we call in the trade, a “flannel panel,” AKA a section in the magazine, often near the front, which details all the staff and their roles. On websites it’s usually under About Us or Contact Us.

Look through these and find the journalist or editor responsible for the content that’s the best fit for your product or service. You can also go on to the media title’s publisher’s website and often find contacts there.

And LinkedIn can be another great source – here you can often find email addresses too and if you are a Premium member, reach out direct too. Failing this, a quick phone call to reception will usually reap rewards.

Bear in mind, Editors and Editor’s in Chief aren’t always the best initial contacts to approach because they typically get inundated with emails and requests. It’s often better to find the details of the staff journalists covering the content most relevant to you and approaching them. Larger publications have what’s called “Commissioning Editors” and these are the people to pitch in to. Usually they deal with journalists pitching in, but there’s no harm in you doing this do. I’ll be covering how to pitch well in another article so look out for this.

It’s worth considering targeting the title’s website editorial staff as well as those in the magazine or newspaper as it’s often much easier to get content picked up for online use as there’s unlimited space, whereas a magazine only has a finite number of pages available per issue.

Don’t forget about freelance journalists too – these can be a fantastic way in. Twitter, LinkedIn – both can be very useful sources here. Start to follow #journorequest on Twitter and you’ll see what journalists are seeking, and responding to this can be an excellent, not to mention free, way of connecting to and building relationships with journalists.

3. Provide content they will want to use.

How do you know what information to give your chosen media? The first step is to be really clear on exactly what topics they cover.  It’s pretty straightforward to discover this – look at the content they already use, across as many of their media platforms as you can. Observing the regular content categories they have is quick way to gauge what’s called their “editorial pillars,” the key content their publication carries. By this I mean look at the primary content headings on a website, or contents’ page in a magazine. Hashtags they use on their socials can be a handy clue, too.

The second step is to look at the format of this content – length, tone – is it informal and friendly or more authoritative and serious, and if it tends to be more text led or image heavy. Also note if the content is typically presented as an interview, or a first person column, “Editor’s Pick,” a listicle (i.e. a Top 10 kind of piece) – this kind of thing.

By now you will know what topics they cover and in what style. Step three is to decide what information you want to communicate to these readers, that matches this, and pitch this in to the journalist or editor – or package into a press release. Do consider media titles always prefer to carry unique content – not information that’s been offered and taken up by their rivals, so you will need to create pitches and press releases that are tailored.

Pitches and press releases are usually sent as a simple, short email. I will cover creating these in detail in articles to follow, but essentially you need to communicate what your story is (the topic and specific angle), why it’s right for that title and is newsworthy for publication now – all in the most interesting way as possible.

It’s an art to make your pitches or press releases stand out for the right reasons when a journalist could receive hundreds of these a week, but, with some guidance and practice there’s no reason why you won’t be able to craft these as well as a PR agency and reap the considerable rewards press exposure can bring.

By: Lisa Curtiss / Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Source: 3 Initial Steps to Doing Your Own PR and Getting Excellent Results

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Critics:

Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public in order to affect the public perception. Public relations (PR) and publicity differ in that PR is controlled internally, whereas publicity is not controlled and contributed by external parties.

Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. This differentiates it from advertising as a form of marketing communications. Public relations aims to create or obtain coverage for clients for free, also known as earned media, rather than paying for marketing or advertising. But in the early 21st century, advertising is also a part of broader PR activities.

An example of good public relations would be generating an article featuring a PR firm’s client, rather than paying for the client to be advertised next to the article. The aim of public relations is to inform the public, prospective customers, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders, and ultimately persuade them to maintain a positive or favorable view about the organization, its leadership, products, or political decisions.

Public relations professionals typically work for PR and marketing firms, businesses and companies, government, and public officials as public information officers and nongovernmental organizations, and nonprofit organizations. Jobs central to public relations include account coordinator, account executive, account supervisor, and media relations manager.

Public relations specialists establish and maintain relationships with an organization’s target audience, the media, relevant trade media, and other opinion leaders. Common responsibilities include designing communications campaigns, writing press releases and other content for news, working with the press, arranging interviews for company spokespeople, writing speeches for company leaders, acting as an organization’s spokesperson, preparing clients for press conferences, media interviews and speeches, writing website and social media content, managing company reputation (crisis management), managing internal communications, and marketing activities like brand awareness and event management.

Success in the field of public relations requires a deep understanding of the interests and concerns of each of the company’s many stakeholders. The public relations professional must know how to effectively address those concerns using the most powerful tool of the public relations trade, which is publicity.

Specific public relations disciplines include:

  • Financial public relations – communicating financial results and business strategy
  • Consumer/lifestyle public relations – gaining publicity for a particular product or service
  • Crisis communication – responding in a crisis
  • Internal communications – communicating within the company itself
  • Government relations – engaging government departments to influence public policy
  • Media relations – a public relations function that involves building and maintaining close relationships with the news media so that they can sell and promote a business.
  • Social Media/Community Marketing – in today’s climate, public relations professionals leverage social media marketing to distribute messages about their clients to desired target markets
  • In-house public relations – a public relations professional hired to manage press and publicity campaigns for the company that hired them.
  • ‘Black Hat PR’ – manipulating public profiles under the guise of neutral commentators or voices, or engaging to actively damage or undermine the reputations of the rival or targeted individuals or organizations.

See also

 

How to Start a Freelance Business When You’re Broke

Are you a broke mom, frantically searching for legitimate ways to earn money online? Learn how to start a freelance writing business (and grow it) without any money to spare.

If you’re struggling financially today, I want you to know that I understand! I know how it feels to be so broke you can’t just “give up your daily latte” to save money to make a purchase you want.

And I know it can get better. You are not stuck in broke mode forever. You can pull yourself out. I’ve done it and so can you.

Freelance writing changed my life! Four years after starting, we became completely debt free and I officially replaced my teacher salary – without having to spend anything on daycare, or putting in 8 hours a day.

Being broke isn’t fun! When I left the classroom a few years ago, our income took a massive cut.

Well below the poverty line, we struggled to make ends meet. We slashed our expenses and watched ever penny. It was hard!

We knew something had to change, but I didn’t want to go back to teaching because day care for our large family would eat up my entire pay check. Literally.

Since working outside the home wasn’t a viable option, so I started looking into ways to earn money from home, praying that the Lord would help me avoid scams and find something legit.

And not long after, He answered!

Freelance Writing

I stumbled upon a post written by Gina Horkey, and learned that people were getting paid to write content for the web.

I’d been blogging for fun over on my Maggie’s Milk blog, so the wheels in my brain started turning. Could I really earn money writing online?

I started reading all the free material on freelancing that I could. After scouring the job boards, I sent my first pitch within a couple of days.

I got the gig!

It didn’t pay well (only $20), but that money made me realize that I could do this. I could help our household financially, without having to give up on homeschooling or put the kids in daycare.

That first gig back in 2015 was my first baby step into the world of freelance writing. And the money has been coming in ever since. And not just in $20 increments…

If you’re ready to work hard to improve your family’s situation, keep reading.

I dish out all the steps I took to launch my freelance business, without spending any of our household budget.

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

1. Decide to Act

Until you decide that it’s time to actually start your freelance business, no amount of reading, learning, or thinking will count.

You can take course after course and never actually earn any money if you don’t implement anything. You have to do something!

Make a proclamation that you are going to do this. Commit to spend time each day growing your business.

Because if you don’t decide to act, you’ll probably still be broke a few months down the road.

Action truly is key to getting this done. Stop planning. Don’t wait until you “know everything.” Actually do something.

2. Start Small

Do you know what I had for my business when I launched?

A cheap laptop computer, really slow satellite internet, and a freebie blog over on Blogger.

I didn’t have a dedicated freelance website, or money to start one.

Freelance writing courses were on my “someday” list, but I couldn’t afford to purchase any at the time. There was literally no money for that.

And it could have been the excuse I used to never get started. But I decided not to. I just started with what I had.

There is nothing wrong with starting small. 

You don’t need a lot to make it as a freelance writer. Too often, I hear excuses like these:

  • “I don’t have a website.”
  • “No one knows who I am.”
  • “I don’t know where to go to look for gigs.”

You know what? I didn’t either! My online presence (other than my freebie blog) was extremely limited. I didn’t even have a personal Facebook profile or other social media presence prior to launching!

And while perhaps my progress has been slower compared to others who started with more, I didn’t take time to stop and make comparisons.

I started small, with what I had, leveraging my skills.

So once you’ve decided to start a business, take stock of what you have. That’s all you need to get started.

No internet? Go someplace with Wi-Fi.

No computer? Our library has several, and I live in the middle of nowhere, so I’m pretty sure yours will too.

Stop making excuses and find a way to make it happen. It will be hard. But, it will get easier if you keep taking these steps.

3. Start Pitching & Build Your Portfolio

Remember how I said my first paid gig was for $20. That was for a 1200 word post.

Today, I charge at least $120 for the same length. Big difference.

But, when I was first starting I didn’t have the luxury of being picky. I needed money and samples.

So if you’re broke and just starting out, take what you can. Remember you won’t be at that rate forever!

Start getting your name out there, and pitch away!

No matter what you are being paid, always do your best work! Seriously, I don’t care if you’re getting less than a penny a word. If you agreed to write a post for a rate, do it to the very best of your ability.

Wondering where to pitch? Check out these ideas:

Craigslist – the “Gigs” section. Check the big cities (New York, LA, etc.)

ProBlogger Job Board (free, and where I found my first gig!)

You can also create an account on a site like Hubstaff Talent and look for clients who may be a good fit.

Also, here’s a more in-depth post on how to find freelance writing gigs.

Worried about being scammed?

There are scams out there, hiding as legitimate freelance writing gigs. Most are very obvious. Others are more carefully constructed.

The good news? There are almost always red flags. I wrote a post warning you what to look for:

Read this: Red Flags for Freelance Writing Gigs

How to Write a Freelance Writing Pitch

The goal of a freelance writing pitch is to briefly explain why you’re the best person to create the content the company is looking for. You need to show that you’re knowledgeable about the content area, and able to write well.

Here is a sample pitch template you can use. You’ll notice it’s short. Hiring managers get tons of responses. Be kind to them by succinctly sharing the info they need and don’t bog them down with details.

Hi [insert the name of the editor – AN ACTUAL NAME (you may need to research],

Your ad/posting on [site where you learned about it] caught my eye. I’m a freelance writer who knows a lot about [topic/niche.]  I’m also [share two quick reasons you’d be a great fit, using the language/word choice from the ad].

To help you make your hiring decision, here’s a bit more information about myself:

  • [two bullet points sharing quick connections between your education/background/experience and the role]
  • [one connection to the company – i.e. a shared value or mission]
  • [Link to your portfolio]

Please let me know if you need any additional information. I’m looking forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

How to Build Your Freelance Writing Portfolio

When you’re just start your freelance writing business, you probably don’t have a lot of samples created that you can use to build a portfolio. That means sample writing must be high on your prioritized to-do list.

Here are three quick ideas for how to get published samples:

  • Write a guest post for a blogger in the niche you’re hoping to write for
  • Start a free blog (better than nothing and you can move later)
  • Write on Medium (or a similar platform)

Once you have live samples, you need to collect the links in a sharable format. If you don’t have a website of your own yet, you can:

  • Make a shareable Google Doc
  • Create a Pinterest board and save all of your posts to it (this means you’ll need to create a pinnable image for each post, but you can do that for free on Canva or something similar)
  • Build a portfolio on a platform like Contently

Right now, don’t worry about making your portfolio “perfect.” You want it sharable and you want each link to lead to a great piece of writing. That’s it.

You can (and should) update it later.

4. Reinvest in Your Business

Look, I know how tempting it is to go spend that money you just earned. You’re broke, and really could use the money on X,Y, or Z.

But you can’t.

At least, not right now.

First, you have to invest in your business. Otherwise you’ll be stuck writing $20 posts forever. And no one wants to be there.

So save all of your money (at first!)

When you’ve saved enough, take an entry-level course to learn even more. My first freelancing investment was 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success (aff. link).

The course helped me learn:

  • How to improve my pitch
  • Ways to leverage my past experience and education as a freelancer
  • Confidence in my ability
  • And loads more

I’ve never regretted investing in this course, and have easily made back WAY more than I spent.

But until you’re there, don’t give up on improving yourself.

Keep reading all the free material you can. Subscribe to helpful blogs and read about areas you’re struggling with.

Remember to implement what you’re learning too! Keep saving, and then you’ll be able to take a course.

The course I took gave me the confidence I needed to pitch more. I landed a higher paying job on Craigslist in the education niche, which was perfect with my teaching background.

I took that money, and bought my domain and hosting. This website was born in September of 2015, just a few months after starting my business.

It really does take some money to grow your business, but you don’t have to have that money all at once. So keep working on your savings and you will get there!

5. Slowly Scale Back on What You Save

Once I had more knowledge and a functioning website (it doesn’t have to be perfect!), it was time to start taking some of my business income and applying it to the household budget.

Being able to actually do something with this money was motivating.

When you’re saving everything to get your site up, or purchase a course, it’s really hard. The tangible benefit isn’t there to the same extent.

My first step back was to save 50% of my income for my business and pour 50% of it into the household budget.

After investing in a few more essentials, I reduced that percentage to 25%. But, I ended up spending the money I saved for taxes (oops!) so I’m back up to 35%.

Note: You really do need a budget for your business!

6. Watch for Amazing Deals

I’ve learned the hard way that you really do have to invest in your business to keep growing. So now I’m always watching for amazing deals that align with my freelance writing goals.

I’ve subscribed to several “waiting lists” to be notified of any flash sales for courses I particularly want to take.

Pay attention to the amazing bundle deals that become available, and sign up to be notified. Then tuck some funds away so when they appear you can make the purchase guilt-free.

Watch for Black Friday sales. Often companies will have Anniversary sales as well.

If you find something you want, have patience and try to get it at the lowest price possible.

7. Make Time to Grow Your Freelance Writing Business

Wondering how you’ll make time to grow a freelance writing business from home? You’ll have to make it a priority.

And you need to do it as a team. Your family won’t understand why you’re suddenly spending more time on the computer unless you tell them. So get your family onboard!

8. Continue Pitching to Avoid Freelance Famine

Once you’ve landed a client or two, it can be easy to forget to pitch. After all, you’ve got more client work to keep you busy.

But, eventually that gig might dry up. Then you’ll be left without that income.

So make pitching a permanent part of your game plan, at least for the foreseeable future. Otherwise, you’ll be right back to where you started with no money.

Pitch even if you are busy. Not every pitch will land a client, but it will help you gain confidence. And some of them will give you work!

Freelance famine is a roller coaster cycle you don’t want to get started with!

There are so many ways to find time, even if it means getting a bit creative.

You can do a lot with a part-time freelance business, so don’t let a lack of 40 hours a week stop you8. Continue Pitching to Avoid Freelance Famine

Once you’ve landed a client or two, it can be easy to forget to pitch. After all, you’ve got more client work to keep you busy.

But, eventually that gig might dry up. Then you’ll be left without that income.

So make pitching a permanent part of your game plan, at least for the foreseeable future. Otherwise, you’ll be right back to where you started with no money.

Pitch even if you are busy. Not every pitch will land a client, but it will help you gain confidence. And some of them will give you work!

Freelance famine is a roller coaster cycle you don’t want to get started with!

9. Make Connections

Do you know where most of my leads come from now?

From other freelancers.

That’s part of the reason I love the mastermind group I was a part of for a couple of years. I’ve also gotten leads from different Facebook groups.

Take time to make connections and build genuine relationships. Give more than you take, and be willing to help others. You won’t regret it. Or at least, I haven’t!

Other freelancers are not your enemy! Learn all you can from them and help them out too. Be genuine and patient!

Here’s a post giving you ideas on how to network with others, even as a busy mom without much time.

10. Be Willing to Try Something New

I never planned on being a virtual assistant when I launched my freelance writing business.

But, the door opened and I walked through it. Now I have a couple of VA clients, and I personally love the variety!

I also didn’t plan on this website turning into a monetized blog. But, that just made sense as a logical step on my online business journey.

So as you’re working, don’t get so focused on what you’re doing that you completely miss a good opportunity. Say yes to new things when you can, because you never know where they’ll lead.

Don’t be afraid to pivot if it makes sense.

On the other hand, don’t get so focused on chasing the next “new thing” that you forget about what is currently working. There’s a balance. You’ll have to figure out what that looks like for you.

11. Don’t Give Up

Bootstrapping your freelance business is challenging. But, it’s also rewarding, and can help you move past broke.

Don’t give up when things get tough. You can do this!

Take time to think about your why. Why did you start a business in the first place? When you think about your why, it’s motivating.

Here’s more inspiration when you’re feeling like you’re ready to quit:

What to Do When You’re Ready to Quit Your Online Business

How to Start a Freelance Writing Business: Recap

Starting a freelance writing business doesn’t require a lot of capital. In fact, if you already have a computer and internet access, you can get started today.

Remember to save your money, and invest it back into yourself. Watch for deals so you can still save money while investing! 😀

Be willing to work for less at first, because you won’t be at that rate forever.

Find a community and get involved.

And when you’re ready to take an awesome course on freelance writing, I highly recommend Gina’s 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success!

By: Lisa Turner

Lisa Tanner loves helping busy moms find time to grow their own business. As a homeschooling mom to nine, she knows a thing or two about balancing diapers and deadlines.

Source: How to Start a Freelance Business When You’re Broke – Lisa Tanner Writing

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