Chenoa Parr is a PR and media relations coach that specialises in telling stories and increasing brand awareness applying her extensive experience in the PR industry. She has worked in the corporate world for over 25 years until 3 years ago when she took the plunge and started working for herself. She is particularly skilled at copywriting and excels in building and maintaining strong media relationships. She enjoys helping her clients get their first piece of press coverage as it builds their confidence, raises their profile and in many cases, gives them that validation that ‘hell yeah, I’m good at what I do!’ – Chenoa Parr
Moxie & Mettle: Why did you want to become a freelancer?
Chenoa Parr: I shouldn’t admit this, but I get bored easily. Freelancing gives me the variety I crave. I meet new people, go to new places and experience new sectors and projects. I like the fact that I spend 6 months in a new place, then I move on to the next opportunity.
I’ve come to realise that doing 9-5 isn’t for me. I spent over 20+ years doing it and no longer want that in my life. Instead I now choose how, when and where I work. These days I either work 3 days/week or remotely from home.
I also want to be in control of the work I accept and to be respected for my experience and knowledge. Each new project is a challenge and they look to me for my expertise. It’s great!
Moxie & Mettle: What do you need to get started as a freelancer?
Chenoa Parr: I recommend getting public indemnity insurance. It doesn’t cost a lot and many companies will insist that you have it. It also covers you in case anything goes wrong.
A strong LinkedIn profile with keywords that match the work you are looking for. For me it’s ‘freelance’ and ‘communications consultant’. HR people are actively searching LinkedIn for freelancers so make sure you’re visible.
Resilience – there are going to be times when you’re out of work. Accept it and use this time to be visible on social media to raise your profile.
Negotiation skills – value who you are and what you do. Charge accordingly. When companies are looking for a freelancer, they need someone quickly who can hit the ground running. Use this as leverage to charge what you are worth. Yes, there will be some negotiating but don’t go too low.
Moxie & Mettle: How do you find freelance work?
Chenoa Parr: My work comes from two sources – word of mouth from ex-colleagues and direct approaches through LinkedIn. That’s why I strongly recommend that your profile is up to date. I’m also quite visible on social media – offering advice, engaging with connections and sharing work that I’m proud of.
Moxie & Mettle: What gave you the courage to quit your job and start freelancing?
Chenoa Parr: I felt stuck in my role. There was no career progression, I wanted to spend more time with my family, and I had lost the passion for what I was doing. The final incentive was being offered redundancy, so I took it and haven’t looked back. I know it’s all very cliched, but I wish I would’ve done it sooner. Three years on and I still walk around with a smile on my face
Moxie & Mettle: What are the benefits?
Chenoa Parr: The biggest benefit for me is FREEDOM! I currently work 3 days/week in an interim role. That gives me 2 days/week to pursue my new passion – coaching new businesses in how to get featured in the press. I also love gardening, so I’ve now got plenty of time to grow vegetables in my allotment. I’m loving life.
I can also ‘step away’ from the job. In other words, I don’t get involved with any office politics. In previous permanent roles I would agonise and stress about work. These days I go in, get my job done and leave it all behind when I go at 5pm.
Variety – I love experiencing different sectors and projects. One month I’m working on an employee engagement and CSR project for an international aerospace company and the next minute I’m advising on corporate communications for a Premier League Club. These are opportunities I would have never had previously.
Moxie & Mettle: Are there any downsides?
Chenoa Parr: There are periods when I’m not working. My contracts typically last 6-9 months then I’ll have 1-2 months in between roles. Luckily, I’m patient and I have an understanding husband who supports what I do. Plan for those times financially and put away money each month for the quiet times.
Some people find it lonely but I’m an introvert, so I love working from home or on my own. It may not suit everyone but it’s perfect for me.
Moxie & Mettle: What advice could you give to other freelancers?
Chenoa Parr: On a practical note, make sure you put away money for your taxes and pension each month as you get paid. You’ll thank me when that tax bill comes in!
When it comes to support, join a Facebook group (or other networking group) with other freelancers. I’m a member of a group for PR and communications. Opportunities are always being shared and there is a sense of community and support from others going through the same thing.
Finally, keep in touch with recruiters who specialise in freelance roles. Let them know when you’ll be available and keep in touch with them so that you’re on their radar.
M: 07963 390 176
L: Chenoa Parr
On a side note, if you are thinking about freelancing/are a freelancer we have a Facebook page dedicated to just that click here to join.
If any other freelancers are interested in featuring in ‘our chat with’ series of how to be successful at freelancing, please email: Isabelle@moxieandmettle.co.uk.
Written by Isabelle Peters