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How I left corporate PR to freelance: ‘If this job was a relationship, would you still be in it?’

After five years in the corporate PR world, Ellie Banner-Ball Escaped the City. She’s since secured two freelance positions, which goes to show that there are always opportunities out there if you know how to find them. She shares her story below.

The decision

I started climbing the career ladder straight after university – I believed in the ‘work hard, get promoted’ philosophy. At the age of 26, I stopped and looked back and realised that I was so caught up in the career process that I wasn’t on the right career path for me.

I walked away from the secure steady income that I’ve had for 5 years – it wasn’t an easy decision. Particularly if your job is everything that you know!

People say that moving house, death, divorce and career changes are the most stressful times in your life. This year: I moved house twice, fell in love (plus point) and had a death in the family in the space of 6 months, and it really put me to the test.

In this period of constant change, I had a “growth period” – I started focusing on myself! I gave myself time to check and listen to my needs – but I reviewed my childhood hopes and dreams, what I wanted in my life, and what skills and experience I had that could get me there. It takes confidence and guts, but you need to know that you are one that controls your life and you are the one with the power to change it.

Get what you need

In PR you always need to plan, schedule and organise or you’ll miss the next story. It’s the same with when it comes to your own career – planning carefully, staying focused and open and highly connected is key. The connections you establish before you take the plunge are your safety net to ensure that you’re able to find opportunities on the outside.

Be Focused

Listen to yourself, only you know what the right decision is for you – ignore the nay-sayers. You drive your future not anyone else.

Plan your exit strategy – what do you need to do to soften the landing:  Update your CV, LinkedIn profile, ask for virtual references from your employer.

Be open

One thing about being outside the corporate world is that it isn’t regular and orderly: opportunities spring up from conversations, listening to people, selling yourself – letting them know that your skills and what you can offer them. Freelancing equals being flexible and open to new roles out there. Thinking like an entrepreneur, forever enhancing your skills to offer your best at all times.

Be highly connected

Seek help, advice, connect and expand your network. You never know who will be able to help you, or who may know someone who you can. Notify the people in your existing network that you’re now freelancing – you’ll be surprised at the result! (They’ll be pleased that you thought of them.)