With more than 10 years’ experience as a communications professional in the wine & spirits industry, Kylie Barnett has created and directed full-scale public relations campaigns for beverage alcohol brands on the agency side as well as in-house as Director of Public Relations at one of the country’s fastest growing top ten wineries. In 2016, Kylie launched Raising the Bar Communications – a boutique agency with a full suite of public relations, social media and copy-writing capabilities for beverage alcohol brands and services. Kylie currently has an all-star roster of four retainer clients, in addition to recurring project-based clients.
1) How did you get started working from home?
Prior to starting my own business, my entire professional career was spent commuting to an office for a traditional Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 work week. After having my second child in early 2016, the commute, coupled with dual childcare pickups and drop-offs became overwhelmingly difficult to juggle, while still putting in the necessary hours as the office. By late summer, I decided that enough was enough. I had the experience, the drive and the means to start my own agency, so I developed a business plan, filed for an LLC, built a website, gave notice to my company and have been happily working from home ever since!
2) How did you choose the work-at-home career you do?
I fortunately have specialized in public relations for the beverage alcohol industry my whole career. After six years at a wine & spirits-focused PR agency and three years in-house as PR Director for a large winery with more than a dozen nationally distributed brands, the logical next step for me was stepping out on my own and launching my own agency specializing in the niche wine & spirits industry.
3) How did you get started (basic initial steps)?
While it wasn’t necessarily spontaneous in the sense that I woke up one day and decided I wanted to start my own agency (this was always where I envisioned my career leading), when I did definitely decide to take the leap and go for it, it all happened very quickly. I started by going over finances with my husband who also works full-time. Would we be able to go without a guaranteed income for at least six months? What would the ramp-up costs and overhead look like for starting my own agency? Once we agreed that we could financially support my new business, I filed for a sole proprietorship LLC with the state of California. It was approved within two weeks. Once the LLC was approved, I opened a business account with my bank. After that, I purchased the website domain and designed my website. Simultaneously, I began building a pipeline of industry connections that I would reach out to, once I had officially resigned from my salary job. After leaving the office on that last and final day, everything kicked into high gear from there! The website and social pages went live and I began the journey to building my business.
4) How did you get your first client or customer or job?
Ironically, my very first client was the company that I left! They knew my work style and capabilities and hired me on for a few projects, so it was refreshing to know that my work was valued and that they were also supportive of the decision to leave. Subsequent clients resulted from word of mouth relationships.
5) How do you market your business?
Currently, all of my marketing is word of mouth. I have also found social media to be a great avenue to generate leads and start conversations with potential clients.
6) What does your usual day look like?
It’s funny, because my day working from home very much mirrors how my days in the office world looked. I wake up, get the kids ready and drop them off at child care. The second I get home, I head straight to my desk, fire up the computer and get to work. What is different now is I have no commute (hooray!), I can work in my lounge gear vs. biz casual (hooray) and I make my own schedule (hooray!). If my daughter has a parade in the middle of the day at school, I can be there. If I want to work out at 2 in the afternoon or go on a grocery run, I can! In one word, working from home is LIBERATING!
7) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
I think I always knew I was a good employee, but many times when you work for others, you question your worth and if what you are doing is really making a difference. Now that I own my own business and work with clients who pay a premium for my services, I finally feel like I do add value to those that I work with and that what I’m doing means something to someone. Not to mention, I get to reap the full financial benefits of the services that I provide. Knowing this now, I wish that I had done it sooner!
8) What advice would you give someone who wants to work from home?
My best advice to someone who works from home is to always maintain discipline. It is so easy to find distraction when working from home. Establish a workspace that is comfortable and designated for “work.” I started out with my desk in the bedroom and it was awful! The bed was just feet away! A few months in, I realized I needed to make a change. My “office” is now in a corner nook in our kitchen with surrounding windows, full of natural light and most importantly no bed, begging me to take a snooze in the middle of the day!
Find Her Online:
Website: Raising The Bar Communications
Facebook: Raising The Bar Communications
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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