Freelancing to Make Time for Family: An Interview with Sue Ellen Jackson

By: Kristen Hicks Posted in Faces of Freelance Austin

Faces of Freelance Austin is a monthly feature to get to know one of our many members just a little bit better. For our third installment, we check in with our Project Posting Coordinator, Sue Ellen Jackson. Want to nominate a member to be interviewed for this feature? Let us know!

Name: Sue Ellen JacksonSue Ellen Jackson, Freelance Austin Project Posting Coordinator
Business name: Sue Ellen Jackson Marketing and Communications
Find Sue Ellen:
Number of years freelancing: 13
Located: Austin, TX
Accepting new work? Yes

How do you describe the work you do?

As the Project Posting Coordinator on Freelance Austin’s board, I’d just like to quote my company description on the website—and encourage all members to create or update their directory listing, too!

“A proven marketing and communications strategist with the professional skills and team resources to accomplish your next goal. Marketing plans, writing/editing for promotional and technical projects, graphic design, web development, media relations, marketing research, social media, and project management.”

Describe your path to becoming a freelancer/small business owner/solopreneur.

Over the span of 14 years working in-house, I had built up enough varied professional experiences and relationships to believe that I could choose the people who I wanted to work with and the projects that were the most rewarding.

How has career independence changed your professional and personal world?

I gained an opportunity to be the primary presence in my daughter’s young life, and I still have the flexibility to be involved with her and the changing needs of other family members. Professionally, I would have to admit that I haven’t been the same wage earner I might have been, but it has all been worth it.

Has there been a point when you’ve taken a big risk to move forward?

Leaving my all-time favorite job in hospital public relations in 1990 to move 900 miles to Austin with my husband was a pretty significant risk. It took six months to find another full-time communications job, and I was sometimes in fields of 200 to 400 applicants.

Tell us what your day is like. Do you have a routine?

I have morning walking dates on a few days of the week, but otherwise get started early and take just a few breaks during the day until school is out or sometimes later.

What, outside of your professional work, drives you? Any hobbies, passions, or side projects?

My family is my main “side project”! We deemed 2015 the Year of Cousins in order to visit or entertain several families that my daughter needs to know better. That’s important to us because my husband and I are both only children.

What was the biggest surprise or shock you found in freelancing? If you could share a bit of wisdom with your newbie freelance self, what would it be?

I didn’t know how much I would need to prospect new business. I seem to do that every day!

Sue Ellen Jackson, Freelance Austin Public Posting Coordinator
Austin has a thriving independent worker population. Do you see any ways the creative and freelance community in Austin could be better?

I think the creative freelance community could be more effective at educating the Austin business community about what they do and why they are a valuable resource. We are good at what we do and we run our own businesses at the same time. That needs to be recognized.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?

I believe that having employed work experience in the same market you’ll be freelancing in prior to starting out is the best route to success. You can say it’s virtual and global out there, but there’s no substitute for referrals from people who have observed your work day in and day out. I never would have made freelancing work without those relationships.

Don’t forget to nominate someone for a future Faces of Freelance Austin interview! Who should we feature next?

Kristen Hicks

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