Faces of Freelance Austin is a monthly feature to get to know one of our many members just a little bit better. For this month’s installment, we check in with Catherine Jewell, Membership Chair of Freelance Austin.
Name: Catherine Jewell
Business/organization name: Career Passion Coach
No. of years freelancing: 23
Located: Austin, Texas
Accepting new work? Yes
Superhero power: I have a knack for taking any topic and figuring out how to teach it in a one-hour format. I love speaking to large audiences.
How do you describe the work you do?
I help professionals up-level their careers. I work with people who are job seeking, career changing, or re-creating themselves. My goal is to help them find the right job, pretty much right NOW. Most of my clients are looking to increase their passion, their contribution, and their incomes by 20% or more.
Describe your path to becoming a freelancer/small business owner/solopreneur.
I moved to Austin in 1997 after several successful careers — in advertising and in corporate training. My first freelancing years were all professional speaking and training engagements. But, I kept helping friends and family members with career changes. Eventually, I studied to become a coach and a Professional Career Manager (PCM). Then, Career Passion Coach was born. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about job seeking, LinkedIn, and Career Branding. I’ve also written three career change books including, “New Resume New Career,” published by Penguin Books.
Was there an “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to strike out on your own?
As a Training Director I often felt frustrated that I had to “sell” my ideas up the chain in order to execute training programs. I find it thrilling to create content customized to each client’s wants and needs.
How has career independence changed your professional and personal world?
I find I work for a very demanding boss, ME. As a single person, I had to learn to “turn it off” and take off time. Otherwise, I’d find myself working until 10 PM on a Friday night! I do love the freedom, but sometimes resent the fact that the work “bunches up” and I have to work hard on evenings or over the weekend. You need maximum flexibility to roll with the ebb and flow of freelance work.
Tell us what your day is like. Do you have a routine?
I meditate, read and exercise the first 90 minutes of every day. Then, I’m at my desk, working emails and meeting clients online. Before Covid-19, I would attend 3-4 networking events each week. I try to shut it off at 5:00 PM to join my husband for dinner. I schedule lightly on Monday and Friday afternoons, but I see clients on Saturday mornings.
What, outside of your professional work, drives you? Any hobbies, passions or side projects?
I love entertaining. I married a man with four children, and I have one of my own, so we have a large Brady Bunch. I regularly host family dinners of 18 or more.
What was the biggest surprise or shock you found in freelancing?
Save your money for the lean times. When they come, relax and appreciate the break. Have faith that business is just around the corner.
Has there been a point when you’ve taken a big risk to move forward?
I participated in a year-long mentorship program that cost big bucks. It upped my professional game in so many ways.
Our members cite connections with people in different career stages and who have various areas of expertise as one of the biggest benefits of Freelance Austin. Have you had mentors along the way, from Freelance Austin or elsewhere?
In a sense, every professional I meet has been a mentor. I learn something new from every resource, every networking contact, and every client. I think my greatest asset is the ability to ask great questions. One boss told me I am the most curious person he ever met! WCA has been a great resource for just observing great women communicators being their professional best.
Austin has a thriving independent worker population. Do you see any ways the creative and freelance community in Austin could be better?
I think freelancers need community and support. I wish I had known about Freelance Austin years ago.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
Start with WHO you want to serve and WHAT services you want to provide. Create a branding statement that expresses that, and take it to the market. Be ready to evolve as you and the market meet.
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