Helen Campbell is a passionate and enthusiastic communications expert who offers powerful coaching and workshops applying her 20+ plus years’ experience in the PR industry. She combines extraordinary creativity and relentless energy to her coaching using her years of mentoring, training and expertise.
She coaches freelancers, small business owners, and PR and marketing specialists. She delivers workshops and training in conjunction with organisations such as the CIPR and NatWest – Jazz Cat
Moxie & Mettle: What is your freelance/self-employed business?
Helen Campbell: Hello! I’m a coach, working with freelancers and creative entrepreneurs. My clients include journalists, PR experts, artists and makers, and I work by phone and face-to-face. I describe myself as a business coach – in reality I work with the whole person, not just what happens in the office or studio. My coaching programmes focus on the goals my clients want to achieve in life, and their values and beliefs. The outcome may or may not be work-related.
Moxie & Mettle: Why did you want to become a freelancer/self-employed?
Helen Campbell: I worked for other people for ten years, in PR and marketing. I learned so much about how agencies and organisations operate, and worked my way up to Account Director level, advising CEOs and MDs of well-known companies. When the financial crash hit the UK, in 2008, I was specialising in financial PR, and our clients were putting their accounts on hold, or being understandably hesitant about making decisions. I was made redundant, alongside a number of my colleagues. I took the initiative to set up my own business and although it was a time of uncertainty, I landed clients immediately because I had a solid business head and I really enjoyed the stuff others found mundane! I’m the sort of person who loves finding a headline within the pages of a heavyweight piece of research or talking in-depth to a ‘techy’ to uncover a juicy news hook where others couldn’t see a story. As well as my healthy curiosity and good news sense, I always maintained a strong network of contacts – I’m incredibly chatty and never scared of the phone! (Although as a coach I have now learned to be still and listen well too.) Once I discovered that I could be self-sufficient I found that incredibly empowering, and I loved the flexibility. Over a decade, I grew my one-woman business to become a small agency and worked with clients such as Thomas Cook, Disney, Naked Wines, and plenty more. Over the last four years I have prioritised a more rural, flexible, lifestyle for myself, and so I moved away from the city. I now live close to the incredibly creative town of Hay-on-Wye. As I changed my own lifestyle, I noticed others like me and saw a niche: there are so many experienced creative people, working alone, and seeking some support with their journey. I realised I could become a sounding board for them and offer insights as well as being a cheerleader and positive influence on other freelancers. I went back to college to retrain as a coach, and that is now around 70% of my focus, alongside copywriting and consultancy work. I am also writing a book.
Moxie & Mettle: What do you need to get started as a freelancer?
Helen Campbell: If you can line up one decent client for yourself before going freelance, then you are winning. Getting yourself a fancy logo and website can wait – land a client first, do some good work, get paid. That’s the job… the pretty stuff is nice to have, clients are essential. Get experts to help you with the practical bits, such as accounts and IT – your job is to win work and get paid.
Moxie & Mettle: How do you find your clients?
Helen Campbell: I work fairly hard at finding clients which is why I always have plenty! My marketing strategy includes PR, flyers, events, offers, networking, social media and more. It doesn’t feel like work because I enjoy that side of things, but if I stopped doing it, there would be an impact on my income. I’d recommend making sure that your friends know what it is you do, as word-of-mouth is important and only works if your pals understand what you offer. Be clear about it.
Moxie & Mettle: What gave you the courage to quit your job and start freelancing?
Helen Campbell: I was made redundant, so the leaving part was arranged for me! However, I do feel it took courage to set up on my own instead of applying for jobs. What helped me was when I asked some influencers in my network if they thought I could cut it as a freelance PR (which was what I was back then) and they agreed that I could hold my own… I trusted their opinion and so that spurred me on.
Moxie & Mettle: What are the benefits?
Helen Campbell: There are so many benefits for me, particularly freedom and balance: I go swimming every Thursday afternoon and to yoga every Tuesday morning, balancing this out with working Saturday and Sunday afternoons from home. I run a co-working group, meet my clients in beautiful locations and run my workshops from gorgeous gastropubs. I can design my life the way I want it.
Moxie & Mettle: Are there any downsides?
Helen Campbell: I simply can’t afford to get ill! I have essentially sold ‘me’ as the product so I can’t just send a stand-in to coach my clients if I’m struck down with a bug. Exercise, sleep and healthy food is essential, and I also keep an eye on my mental health by accessing support from a supervisor and having my own coach and currently a therapist too. I don’t think people should be shy about getting therapy – working alone can feel pretty intense and knowing yourself is a really good strategy if you want to stay well.
Moxie & Mettle: What advice can you give to other freelancers/those embarking on a self-employed career?
Helen Campbell: It’s a really good idea to have a plan, with goals and milestones. Your plan doesn’t have to be on a spreadsheet if that isn’t your thing – your plan could be a picture, collage or mood board. I once spent a whole Saturday creating a visual plan inside a shoebox. I achieved it too. And it was ambitious! Plan your way but do have a plan!
If you’re interested in coaching, use the code FIRSTFREE to receive a half hour session at no cost. Email email@example.com to arrange your free taster.
M: 07551 005877
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