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Freelancer promoting her PR business

How to Start a Freelance PR Business

Scott BedgoodScott Bedgood
Scott Bedgood
Scott Bedgood

Have experience in public relations and want to make a little extra money on the side? Or maybe you’re looking to leave that corporate job and start working for yourself in PR. Perhaps you’re a college student who wants to build up your resume to appeal to future employers.

No matter your motivation, starting a PR business is an exciting opportunity to get experience in the industry and start working for yourself. But how does someone who works in PR start freelancing?

In this guide, we’ll share some tips and tricks to support your freelance PR career.

What Does Freelance PR Look Like?

Freelance PR looks a lot like the traditional corporate structure, but the primary difference is that you oversee every part of the process. Starting a personal PR business isn't just about public relations – it's also about finding and onboarding new clients, managing money, and marketing your personal brand.

Your freelance PR career might look like managing social media campaigns, contacting journalists to publicize exciting news for clients, and writing press releases for client blogs. It will also involve maintaining your own portfolio, managing your social media channels, and celebrating your successes.

Basically, you become your own PR rep too.

When you start freelancing, you'll become acquainted with every part of your industry, from marketing to invoicing. If that sounds appealing, freelancing might be right for you.

Build a Roster of PR Clients

To start freelancing in PR, you need clients. To build up a personalized roster, consider doing the following:

  • Build a portfolio of your work and the services you provide and put them on a website to share with prospects
  • Use networking tools like LinkedIn to market those services and connect with people you know in the industry
  • Communicate with former clients about your new business. Let them know you can help them with future PR needs
  • Ask your network to recommend your services to their clients. If they don’t have work for you immediately, ask for a testimonial or review to boost your publicity
  • Market yourself on networks like Upwork and FlexJobs that focus on freelance and project-based work

During the marketing process, be transparent with your current employer, if you have one. Talk with them about starting your PR business before you onboard your first client and ensure you aren’t breaching your contract or any agreements.

Differentiate Yourself

Be ready to differentiate yourself from other PR freelancers. As you might expect, there are lots of experienced freelancers on the market, and you need to find a way to stand out in the crowd.

Lauren Gray writes for PRSA’s The Edge:

“To get started, select a specific skill that you’re particularly passionate about and talented in. This will empower you to not only best serve your future clients, but to get those clients in the first place.”

Choosing a niche might seem limiting, but it will help clients find you, and it will help you stand out in a smaller group of people. If you love social media marketing, prioritize that. Choose a focus that you can build a portfolio around and that you know you can do well.

You can always expand your offerings later when you have a solid network of clients and prospects.

Manage Your Money

When it comes to tackling the business end of your new PR career, have a plan in place and systematize everything. Having an efficient system to navigate marketing, invoicing, and managing prospective clients will help make the most of your time – and that means making more money.

Consider setting aside 25 percent of your freelance income for tax purposes. Some freelancers set up an account for this purpose, while others choose to pay quarterly taxes based on their income to avoid paying a large amount at the end of the year. Any money you have left over after you’ve paid taxes you can then invest back into your business or pay yourself as a year-end bonus for a job well done.

Scott Bedgood
Scott Bedgood is a journalist and author based in Dallas, TX. He's written for Success Magazine, Texas Monthly, Cowboys & Indians Magazine, Texas Highways, bodybuilding.com, and more. In his career, he's interviewed Grammy winners, Emmy winners, Hall of Famers, and professional jogglers (that's juggling + marathon running). He's the author of Lessons from Legends: 12 Hall of Fame Coaches on Leadership, Life, and Leaving a Legacy which features interviews with legendary college football coaches like Steve Spurrier, Barry Switzer, Tom Osborne, Barry Alvarez, and more. In addition to writing, he is a podcaster and video editor. A short film documentary he made about his indoor soccer team premiered at the Texas Theatre, the same theater where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested. He and his wife Sami met at the University of Oklahoma and now live in Texas with their one-year-old son and two rescue dogs

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