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Freelance Life | What’s my Niche?

UK Lifestyle Blog Pros and Cons to working freelance


Since going freelance three months ago life has been a whirlwind of adventure, stress, joy and worry. So far it’s a whirlwind that I’m still very much enjoying and keen to continue with but having hit my first milestone, certain questions are becoming more poignant than I ever imagined they would be at the beginning. At the moment a typical week can encompass everything from talking Fash-unand writing about pretty things to devising serious campaigns for charities, advising brands on their tone of voice, trying to come up with a new way of using twitter that hasn’t already been done and topping it all off by appearing on national TV to talk about the cost of weddings (yes really).
Not only is this constant juggling wreaking havoc with my sanity but it’s also making me re-evaluate my career goals and think seriously about what direction I want to take my skills in. Of course as a newbie in the freelance game my direction is very much dictated by who wants to pay me that month but being my own boss does also give way to that total euphoria feeling of freedom. If I can do anything I want… what do I do? In a sense… what’s my niche? And does it matter if I don’t really have one?
When I first made the decision to leave my job and pursue a freelance career I thought that life would become much more simple, clean, streamlined. I would no longer have to worry about labels or titles or different personas. I wouldn’t need to constantly think about whether in any given situation I was Jaclyn the PR, Jaclyn the Blogger or Jaclyn the PR who sometimes writes and blogs. Freelance life would mean I could simply be Jaclyn. And label free would mean stress free. I could be whoever and whatever. I would be Jaclyn and I would work freelance. Done. Problem solved right?
Em well no… problem not solved, problem actually bigger and wider and more full of questions than ever. The lines are now blurred, the separations not as clear, the perimeters so much easier to cross.
What now defines a job? What parts of my life fall into career territory and what parts stay in personal interest territory? The problem when you work part time in a lot of things is that is you begin to wonder which of those part time things should be promoted as your full time thing.
I try to run at least three times a week but this doesn’t make me a professional runner does it? I like to bake on a Sunday but I’m not a baker (well I hope not judging by my last baking attempt)! I also like to sit in front of the TV and watch a lot of Gossip Girl if I have the time to do so but I can hardly ask anyone to pay me to do that activity. (If I could I’d be a very happy bunny). So what am I?
Well if Gossip Girl is out then perhaps that means it’s what I get paid to do that defines my career? (sounds rather obvious) So whatever industry I find myself in through my working life should therefore be my niche! Well in that case figuring out my niche should be easy shouldn’t it?
Ok I write a lot so am I a writer? 
Hmm I do write for brands and companies and occasionally have articles published across the tinterweb but I’m not sure I write enoughor have the pay packet to show for those published articles to warrant me being labelled a writer.
 I have a blog so am I a Blogger?
A heavily weighted question that deserves an entire post to itself really. I occasionally work with brands on my blog but mostly it’s pretty personal and just for me and I definitely wouldn’t feel worthy of the tag, professional blogger.
Ok well I have a background in PR so am I a PR guru?
Well yeah I guess having worked in PR for nearly five years I can’t deny that this is where my experience lies. As a freelancer I still get involved in this from time to time and am often hired by brands in a PR/marketing capacity… however my reasons for going freelance were largely to branch out of this world and I’m genuinely happy to be out of the full time PR game.
I do a lot of work on the digital side so am I a Social Media Guru?
I’m fairly up on digital media but in no way am I a guru. I sometimes do a spot of consulting on this subject… but I’m far too modest to think of myself as anywhere close to a social media expert and the thought of my only job being to update twitter all day makes me want to cry.
I like working with bloggers, am I a Blogger Outreach Specialist? (if that even exists)
Yes, no jokes, I have actually used this title in working life before, specialist may be stretching it a little and laugh if you like but this is actually one of the tags I’m more partial to. As a blogger myself (even a part time one) I tend to quite like a lot of other bloggers and organising events/opportunities/ campaigns I know they would love can be fun for sure. But at times it feels as if I’m just getting paid to round up a group of friends and can I really call that a career?
Ok let’s go back to writing, am I an Editorial Consultant?
Being fond of the ol’ written word means that I can provide editorial support for brands and companies and get involved in everything from copy-writing to creating editorial strategies and developing tone of voice… but let’s face it, even I don’t know what the hell that means and if I told you that in a pub on a Friday night you would write me off immediately as a complete douche bag!
Besides even if I could pick one of those activities as my stand out career, I never work with only one type of brand or in one particular industry. So other than a whole long list of forward slashes I’m still no closer to finding out what I actually do or what my official niche is.
So instead maybe I should just embrace the freedom? Embrace that long list of forward slashes and mix them up from time to time depending on who I fancy being that day?

And If I’m really stuck then I’ll go just go for this… Can do PR if I have to, know a bit about social and can string a sentence or two together as long as you don’t mind too much about grammar – call me what you will!
Maybe discovering which slashes are here to stay and which slowly get left behind is all part and parcel of my journey? Perhaps somewhere along the line something will click and I’ll discover exactly what my niche is. Or maybe I’ll never have a niche and I’ll continue to fuel my life with different experiences everyday and never settle on just one thing.
So yes I am label free, but with the freedom of no label comes the uncertainty of career direction.  For now I guess I’ll have to just let the whirlwind decide where it drops me off and be prepared for many more awkward conversations  and ‘say what now?’ expressions at events when the dreaded ‘So… what do you do?’ question comes up. *Sigh*
So here’s to all of the forward slashers of the world and let’s just remember that we don’t forward slash because we can’t decide, we forward slash because we don’t have to
BB
xxx

This post is part of a new category entitled Freelance Life where I’ll be documenting some of the trials, tribulations and tips I find along the way in the land that is a freelance career.

2 Comments

Maria Fallon

I find the idea of freelance terrifying and exhilarating at the same time and really admire anyone who can do it, maybe you should just have ‘all round awesome’ on your business cards?! 😉

Maria xxx

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