By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter
Janice K. Hanson
chose to leave a full-time job in search of a better work/life balance. Launching JK Hanson Wordcraft
has enabled her to take on volunteer roles that she enjoys, in addition to her communications work.
Hanson, a member of the RPCN Communication Committee who designs the monthly email newsletter and projects such as the promotional flyer and program for the first TrendTalk event, started her consulting business in January 2012 after looking into the process in detail. "I had done some research, and I had a one-on-one with SCORE," she recalled. "The very next day, I went to the county clerk's office for my DBA and shortly thereafter set up a business bank account."
Here is a video interview with Hanson:
Hanson moved to Rochester from Vermont in 2002, when her husband accepted a job with Kodak. She went to a few RPCN meetings then as part of networking to find a full-time job. Building on her marketing experience at an arts center in Burlington, she found a job as assistant director of marketing, a title later changed to manager of marketing and electronic communications, with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO). In that role, she handled the program book, e-mail newsletters and the website, among other projects. With a business name picked out and logo already designed, she left the RPO in November 2011 and took the next few months to start her consulting business.
The primary focus of Hanson's consulting business is proofreading and copyediting. "I've done work for ad agencies - mostly proofreading marketing materials, usually fully designed pieces," she said. "I also look at their messaging, to make material complete and pinpoint what's missing." She still does work for the RPO, editing its program book and managing the production schedule on a freelance basis.
She also does some writing; she periodically posts on her blog to give prospective clients an idea of how she writes, and writes a weekly blog
on folk music on the Democrat and Chronicle website.
Hanson finds clients and projects primarily through "lots of networking," she said - the RPCN and groups such as the Rochester Ad Federation, Rochester Women's Network, and the Rochester chapters of the Public Relations Society of America and American Marketing Association. Connections through her church also have led to projects. One reason Hanson makes networking a major focus of her marketing efforts is that "working from my home office, I need a reason to get out and see people," she said.
While she sometimes does consider going back to a full-time job, especially when freelancing with a company exposes her to interesting people and workplaces that seem appealing, Hanson is enjoying consulting. "One reason for freelancing," she said, "is that I felt a little constrained by titles. I also didn't want to deal with the office politics."
To grow her business, Hanson plans to do more with websites. She is proud of managing a website redesign for the RPO that won two awards from the Rochester Business Journal, and has done some work with firms to proofread websites, check links and do quality control.
That is one of several areas where the RPCN has been helpful to Hanson and her consulting business. "I knew I had to have a website when I started my business," she said. "You just need a place to send people so they can learn something about what you do. I went to an RPCN tech forum and asked people how they created their sites. I got people's business cards and looked at their sites, many of which were in WordPress." Inspired by the template of one RPCN member's site, Hanson invested in a custom template and taught herself enough about WordPress to create her site. She got involved with the RPCN Communication Committee to build her portfolio, demonstrate her skills and give something back to the organization.
Having colleagues to consult with through the RPCN has been an invaluable aspect of membership, she said.
Hanson's success at balancing work with a fulfilling personal life involves volunteering with the Golden Link Folk Singing Society
, serving as its concert chair and running the monthly music series. She got involved with the group because it's something she enjoys as a musician, and it's also a good fit with her career: "All the work I've done in marketing has been in the performing arts, but I hadn't done anything before this on the artistic or programming side."
For Hanson, being a freelancer or consultant is not just a matter of succeeding in business. "It means my work/life balance is good," she said. "It lets me do volunteer things and feel as if I'm contributing to society."
RPCN Communication Committee member Ruth E. Thaler-Carter is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and proofreader. She can be reached at www.writerruth.com.