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Going-Solo - A Guide to Freelance Fashion PR

Going Solo: A Guide to Freelance Fashion PR

As a fashion PR professional, you typically have three options when it comes to working in the industry. You can work on multiple client accounts for a fashion PR agency (either your own or for someone else), in-house for a single brand, or work as a freelance fashion PR practitioner, also known as being an independent contractor. Lucky for you, I have done all three, and there are certainly pro's and cons to each arrangement. However, this article is about what to do once you have made the decision to go out on your own.

Set up your business

As an independent contractor, you forgo the security of a steady paycheck, health insurance, and paying taxes just once a year for freedom. The freedom to set your own hours, work with the clients you want to work with, execute the PR strategy you believe will be most effective and be paid your full bill rate. While it can appear quite lucrative at first to be paid a full $100 an hour, rather than an annual salary that is less than half what your agency actually charges for your services, remember that those pesky estimated taxes you must now pay quarterly require about 30% of every dollar you make be tucked away. When you add in additional costs like health insurance, cell phone bill and renting a conference room or workspace, well, it adds up quickly! However, nothing beats taking a nap when you are feeling uninspired and staying up until 3 am when you are, and you are of course now able to subtract things like the square footage of your home office and your internet bill from your taxes. It may be worth setting up a few appointments with a financial planner, accountant and your local small business association in order to make sure you are prepared for the proactive organization required for freelance work.

Figure out your services

What are your strengths? Do you have incredible media contacts at all the monthlies or are you every fashion blogger's BFF? Are you handy with html or great at event production? At the start of your freelance career, don't make the mistake of trying to be or do too many things at once. Put your own gifts through a brand exercise and clearly identify your brand promise, differentiators and yes, even your 30 second elevator speech. Immerse yourself in the wealth of knowledge that exists for entrepreneurs online like IttyBiz, Design Sponge's Biz Ladies series and Freelance Switch and learn as much as you can about the business side of things.

Build your brand

Don't skimp on your web site, business cards or blog. If you are going to be asking people to give you money to represent their brand, show them you understand the value of a strong company image. In this day and age, a WordPress blog can be optimized to function as an affordable CMS tool for all your needs and make it so you can handle all those pesky updates without having to pay out of pocket. Your internet presence, done correctly, can give off the impression that you, madame or miseur, are quite a bit larger that life. After all, no one needs to know just how late you stay in your cupcake pajamas, nor do they care, when you are bringing home the results for the bacon flavored lip gloss.

Create Referrals/Affiliates

Consider joining a local networking or business referral group like a BNI, your local Ladies Who Launch chapter create your own. I am really not one to enjoy the early AM schmoozing with bad coffee in hand, but took a friend up on an offer and joined a local group when I first started freelancing. Just coming in as a guest led to my first lifestyle client, a high-end personal training gym, than I worked with closely through the next year.

Also, find strategic partners. In PR, this probably means finding a print and web graphic designer or small design shop, a videographer, editor, photographer etc. Expanding your service offerings is great for business and knowing you have several other people out there pimping your services to potential clients in need can only help. Perhaps you can even split costs on a few things or host an event together.

Get clients

Without clients, the world stops spinning, flowers wilt and fairies die.

I decided to go freelance when the agency I was working for divided into two new agencies. I was offered a job at one and an offer to work as a contractor for the other, trouble was my favorite clients were split up, going to different agencies! Negotiating with my bosses allowed me to keep working on the accounts I was most invested in as a contractor for both. Incidentally,  the former director of PR decided to open up her shop focusing on lifestyle fashion clients, and so I did work for her as well.

Even if you aren't transitioning from an agency, send emails out to all the PR shops in town and explain who you are, your background, and what accounts you think you could help out on. You could do the same for event planners. Certainly send out an email to your network letting them know of your new plans and don't neglect Facebook- you never know when your best friend from seventh grade's mom just happens to to know someone who knows someone. To pick up some quick work, consider signing up for an account on Elance. Offer your press release skills, your bio writing abilities as well as consulting services.

Work really, really hard

Seriously. There is no one that will ever care about the success of your business more than you. This often means working late, going out to events to meet new people when you would rather stay in bed and eat pie, and having to be responsible not only for keeping your clients happy but keeping your business happy, which means time out for invoicing, taxes, and on occasion, running out for printer ink at 2 am. The biggest indicator of success is word of mouth and when it comes to clients, you really are only as good as your last hurrah - so push yourself creatively, stylistically, and keep focusing on client goals and satisfaction and you might find the freelance life a pretty fine place to be.

Featured image courtesy of Erika Astrid Photography. Design courtesy of Yazmina Cabrera, Girl with a Banjo.

About the author: Crosby


Known as the "fashion publicist's most powerful accessory," (SD-UT) and the "West Coast 'It' girl of fashion PR," (YFS Magazine) Crosby Noricks is a brand strategist, author and founder of PR Couture. Crosby was included in the iMedia 25 Class of 2012 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, and enjoys helping fashion and lifestyle brands connect with their audiences in meaningful and creative ways.

46 Comments

  • Posted December 8, 2009 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    This is a really good and honest article about going solo. As a freelancer, I’ve dealt with pushing away that piece of pie to go out and network, building up affiliates, and making a name for myself and my brand. This article kind of re-ignited my love for what I do, and given me things to think about when it comes to evaluating my goals and strengths. I’m in the midst of revamping my brand and reading the facts from another freelancer keeps me on track. Thanks Crosby!

    • Posted December 8, 2009 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

      Jordana – So glad the post fueled you! Working on and reinventing my brand (or the brands of others) is one of my favorite things to do! And though I have been working full-time for an agency for about a year and a half now – I learned so much about myself, client management, prioritization, pitching and business development during the year or so I was independent – there’s nothing quite like it! XO Crosby

  • Posted December 8, 2009 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    This is a really good and honest article about going solo. As a freelancer, I’ve dealt with pushing away that piece of pie to go out and network, building up affiliates, and making a name for myself and my brand. This article kind of re-ignited my love for what I do, and given me things to think about when it comes to evaluating my goals and strengths. I’m in the midst of revamping my brand and reading the facts from another freelancer keeps me on track. Thanks Crosby!

  • Rachel
    Posted December 9, 2009 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    Crosby – you never fail to inspire. Loved the article. :)
    RL

  • Rachel
    Posted December 9, 2009 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    Crosby – you never fail to inspire. Loved the article. :)
    RL

  • Posted December 9, 2009 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Darling, you are simply on fire. Big things happening for you in 2010.

    Thanks for a realistic portrayal of what it’s like to own your own business.

    @Macala
    .-= Macala Wright´s last blog ..Our Best Fashion Marketing Posts Of 2009 =-.

  • Posted December 9, 2009 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Darling, you are simply on fire. Big things happening for you in 2010.

    Thanks for a realistic portrayal of what it’s like to own your own business.

    @Macala
    .-= Macala Wright´s last blog ..Our Best Fashion Marketing Posts Of 2009 =-.

  • Posted December 9, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this article. I’ve recently gone out on my own and it is scary! I am in a super-small market and toil daily with the decision to go it alone or look for a full-time job. I appreciate the inspiration and will keep at it while I take graduate classes too! Whew! Thanks Crosby, you rock!

    • Posted December 9, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Adie – sounds like a full load! Don’t forget to breathe XO

  • Posted December 9, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this article. I’ve recently gone out on my own and it is scary! I am in a super-small market and toil daily with the decision to go it alone or look for a full-time job. I appreciate the inspiration and will keep at it while I take graduate classes too! Whew! Thanks Crosby, you rock!

    • Posted December 9, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Adie – sounds like a full load! Don’t forget to breathe XO

  • victoria
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    thank you so much for this article!!

    i’m currently venturing out on my own and sometimes lack the motivation to take the next steps because of the fear of failure.

    but, your article simplifies the process, offers some very helpful tips, and a realistic picture of what i’m getting myself into.

    i look foward to more inspiring articles in the future!

    thanks again!!

  • victoria
    Posted December 11, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    thank you so much for this article!!

    i’m currently venturing out on my own and sometimes lack the motivation to take the next steps because of the fear of failure.

    but, your article simplifies the process, offers some very helpful tips, and a realistic picture of what i’m getting myself into.

    i look foward to more inspiring articles in the future!

    thanks again!!

  • Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the inspiration. Im currently freelancing and am always waiting IMpatiently for your tips and advice. Thanks so much!!

  • Posted December 11, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the inspiration. Im currently freelancing and am always waiting IMpatiently for your tips and advice. Thanks so much!!

  • Joanna
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    This article gave me a new perspective on what goals need and will be in 2010. I have been wrestling with venturing into PR as a freelance contractor, but fear and self doubt has been my biggest obstacles. This article just gave me the push into a new direction. Thanks again Crosby for the insight.

    Joanna

  • Posted June 21, 2010 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Just bookmarked this page- Great and useful tips- some of them I just learned from you,
    THANK YOU.

    BaniCeleb.

  • Posted June 21, 2010 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Just bookmarked this page- Great and useful tips- some of them I just learned from you,
    THANK YOU.

    BaniCeleb.

  • Posted June 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Another great post, thank you!

  • Posted June 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Another great post, thank you!

  • Posted September 21, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    what a great article. The pointers are great and I feel you really give a valid depiction of the job/industry. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Posted September 21, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    what a great article. The pointers are great and I feel you really give a valid depiction of the job/industry. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Hm Adnan
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    What great presentation! http://www.the-career.com/

  • Posted December 23, 2011 at 4:11 am | Permalink
  • Posted December 23, 2011 at 4:11 am | Permalink
  • Posted December 23, 2011 at 4:11 am | Permalink
  • Posted December 23, 2011 at 4:11 am | Permalink
  • Posted December 23, 2011 at 4:11 am | Permalink
  • hjut kiuy
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    I like the post of your Blog that “Work your ass off” thanks  http://employmentnews7.blogspot.com/

  • hjut kiuy
    Posted January 18, 2012 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    I like the post of your Blog that “Work your ass off” thanks  http://employmentnews7.blogspot.com/

  • Necole
    Posted January 26, 2012 at 4:32 am | Permalink

    Great info!! Thanks much!!
    http://www.b3llacarablogspot.com

  • Necole
    Posted January 26, 2012 at 4:32 am | Permalink

    Great info!! Thanks much!!
    http://www.b3llacarablogspot.com

  • Posted March 28, 2012 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    Well i have been wanting to go solo since long… your article re-inspires and re-enforces the thought…hopefully I’ll listen to my heart and take the plunge.

  • Posted March 28, 2012 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    Well i have been wanting to go solo since long… your article re-inspires and re-enforces the thought…hopefully I’ll listen to my heart and take the plunge.

  • Ashton Skates
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    This is great “heads-up” advice for PR students. The job market we will graduate into will probably dictate that many of us will go freelance, particularly right out of college. This post gives a good sense of where to start when going freelance. I think the advice to not try to do too many things, but rather focus on your strengths will particularly stick with me. This post also gives a good example about what networking actually looks like. It’s a term we as students hear thrown around a lot but can seem sort of abstract. This post gave good examples of how to build connections through networking.

  • Ashton Skates
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    This is great “heads-up” advice for PR students. The job market we will graduate into will probably dictate that many of us will go freelance, particularly right out of college. This post gives a good sense of where to start when going freelance. I think the advice to not try to do too many things, but rather focus on your strengths will particularly stick with me. This post also gives a good example about what networking actually looks like. It’s a term we as students hear thrown around a lot but can seem sort of abstract. This post gave good examples of how to build connections through networking.

  • Posted October 4, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this great post!

  • Posted October 4, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this great post!

  • Jen
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    The thought of going into business on my own is terrifying but I know that one day I would love to run my own business because I know I have a certain vision for myself and what I can accomplish. Your story hits close to home, I feel like I have a lot of different experiences in PR and haven’t quite identified what my strengths are yet. I know that I love planning events and helping communicate the vision of organizations through my work but it seems like making more solid connections with clients will help me transition from agency work to freelance.

  • Jen
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    The thought of going into business on my own is terrifying but I know that one day I would love to run my own business because I know I have a certain vision for myself and what I can accomplish. Your story hits close to home, I feel like I have a lot of different experiences in PR and haven’t quite identified what my strengths are yet. I know that I love planning events and helping communicate the vision of organizations through my work but it seems like making more solid connections with clients will help me transition from agency work to freelance.

  • Kerri
    Posted January 25, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    AWESOME!!!!!! These words of wisdom are things I can really use. Thanks.

  • Kerri
    Posted January 25, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    AWESOME!!!!!! These words of wisdom are things I can really use. Thanks.

  • Posted March 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I have been an avid reader of your posts since a found your site and this post really revved me up! Thanks for the tips.

  • Posted March 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I have been an avid reader of your posts since a found your site and this post really revved me up! Thanks for the tips.

  • Posted April 7, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this article. I currently work for an independent record label out of the Midwest, predominantly handling single/album releases and tour press for emerging EDM artists, but was recently asked to work on a men’s skincare product campaign, and I’ve had to learn so much completely on my own. I’m apparently doing well, the client is thrilled with what I’ve been able to set up, but having a resource with insight from someone more seasoned is so important. It also feels good knowing that there is no single ‘right’ way and that it’s really all about the relationships. I’m still working on building a press list, but I’m getting there, and will definitely be checking back with PR Couture for further affirmation and guidance.

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Meet Crosby Noricks

Hi. I'm Crosby, the founder of PR Couture and a fashion brand strategist. I care about supporting and celebrating fashion publicists as well as helping rad companies connect with their audiences in more meaningful ways. Recently, iMedia included me in their annual list of 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, along with people from Starbucks, Twitter and Volkswagon, which I think is pretty neat. Like Elle Woods, I am a Gemini-vegetarian (that's about where the similarities end). Let's connect: Check out my full bio, Brand Elixer sessions or shoot me an electronic communiqué.