Ellie Rich-Poole’s freelancer story

As part of our freelance celebration we’re sharing the experiences of female freelancers. Here’s Ellie Rich-Poole’s story. 

What do you do?

I am The Recruitment Coach – helping businesses improve their recruitment as a consultant, and working one to one with individuals as a coach.

How long have you been a freelancer?

This is my fourth year.

Why did you go freelance?

I resigned from my corporate job as a head hunter without a plan – I needed to escape. I had loved my time in recruitment (11 years) but struggled once I became a mother and was having the juggle the family life and work life (like everyone)… despite a very patient and kind boss I couldn’t make my working pattern fit (I tried all sorts) and felt totally out of control and unhappy.

It is only now looking back I realise I was suffering with post natal anxiety – but even before my baby was born. The day after I resigned I confided in a long standing client who is now a friend, who asked me to come and do some work for her.

I was fortunate to get other similar offers when people heard I was leaving and so I set up a limited company and started taking on projects for HR Directors in my network.

What do you love about being a freelancer?

The freedom to manage my time, lifestyle and choose who I work with and what sorts of projects I take on. That it has given me time and budget to continue learning and developing – since setting up I have studied social media management and coaching.

And what do you hate about being a freelancer?

At times I get lonely, and don’t have anyone to share the little wins with. Also no office Christmas party fun.

How long did it take to earn an income you were happy with?

I waited a few months before taking a salary from the business to get the cash flow in a good place, but quickly I was able to take a salary. I take lower than I used to earn, but there are other benefits so it works.

And how long to get a good client rota?

From day one – I have been fortunate to offer a service that my existing network needed, so I am essentially working with similar people to my time in recruitment, just supporting them in a different way.

Have you ever turned a client down? And if so, why?

Yes if the culture doesn’t feel right, or the type of work. If this is the case I will always put them in touch with an alternative person who could help them.

If you could offer any advice to yourself starting out as a freelancer what would it be?

Relax and enjoy the quiet times, and don’t panic! Also don’t compare your financial success to old colleagues who are still in the executive search world. They will be billing more and its not a like for like comparison, and it will only make you feel rubbish.

How have you changed since becoming a freelancer?

I have slowed down (this doesn’t come naturally to me!) and have taken time to understand what is most important to me. I have come to terms with the fact that just because you are good at something, it doesn’t mean it is good for you.

My health comes first these days and this in turn is better for the family. I am definitely more relaxed and happier than I was.

Find out more about Ellie