This time last year, I had just handed in my dissertation, finished my exams and had begun preparing for graduation.
It was also around this time that I started writing for a local marketing agency. Little did I know back then, but on the same day, I had simultaneously started my own business.
I always joke that I accidentally started my own business, but I think that’s an accurate way to describe it. Writing articles and doing a bit of social media here and there was originally supposed to be a side project to get me through my History MRes.
However, as I got busier, I took the plunge and thought I would see where it would take me.
A year down the line, and I have managed to grow my client base to a sustainable level and I’m feeling a little pleased with myself. By no means am I hugely successful with a mint in the bank, but I feel like I am doing relatively okay. Although, of course, I don’t want to jinx anything.
I thought I’d put together some of the ups, downs and funny things I’ve experienced in my first year of freelancing.
Today is also the day that I launch my very own business website, Creative Alice. I wanted a space, aside from Retro and Thrift that I could signpost clients to and basically look a little more official.
Anyway, without further ado, here are some of the things I’ve learnt whilst being self-employed.
1. Working in your PJs just isn’t practical.
I quickly found out that when you work remotely, you won’t actually get much done if you sit in your PJ’s all day. Perhaps some people can do it, but I need a good structure to my day (which includes dressing) to be able to work productively.
I spend a large amount of time in my home office, which at the moment doubles up as my bedroom, so I need as much motivation as possible to get into the zone of working.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been making the most of the public spaces and co-working areas in my city. When I first started out, I spent a lot of my time in local coffee shops – but this did nothing for my bank account or caffeine habit. All I can say is that it may take a while to find out what works for you, but once you find it, you’ll be absolutely fine.
2. You’ll probably want to quit at some point.
It’s true. There have been several times when I have absolutely resented self-employment. I would constantly compare myself to friends in ‘normal jobs’ who didn’t have to worry about money, time management, sick pay or having time off. These friends were enjoying stability, even if they didn’t love what they were doing.
The one thing that pulled me through was the fact that I genuinely loved doing the work. My favourite thing is to write and be creative and I think that when you have that to look forward to every day, it sort of quashes any negative thoughts that may arise.
3. But, you’ll fall in love with it too.
Yes, there have been a few teething problems and there will probably be a few more, but, ultimately, I don’t think I’d have it any other way – at least for now. I feel like over the past few months I have really settled into a routine and it’s been nice to feel like I have something for myself, rather than owing my life to an employer.
4. No matter what, you need a break.
I, unfortunately, have learnt this the hard way. Making time for yourself is vital if you want to carry on being self-employed. It’s very easy for me to work myself into the ground but then your body will get run down and you’ll feel exhausted – and guess what, you won’t be able to do anything! If you don’t allow yourself some downtime, your body will find a sneaky way to force you to relax, trust me.
5. You’ll doubt yourself, like a lot.
With any creative job, a lot of self-doubt arises. I have woken up countless times at 4am in the morning questioning whether I’m good enough and contemplating giving up. Unfortunately, I am yet to find a solution for this. But, what I do know is that several successful business people have told me they feel exactly the same way.
6. You’ll constantly wonder what the future will hold.
Self-employment definitely invites a sense of uncertainty into your life. Clients can pull out, they can change their minds and you are solely responsible for pretty much everything – scary right? But, I have learnt techniques to try and live in the moment. I’m not reckless by any stretch of the imagination, but you can’t live your whole life in fear, else what’s the point? Trust yourself that you will pull through and bear in mind that you can always change your mind and your circumstances.
It’s been one hell of a year, here’s to the next *raises a glass*.
Oh, if you are in need of some social media or blog writing help, or just want to nosey, do take a peep at my new site.
Have you got any tips or experiences to share about being self-employed? Let me know in the comments or get in touch on Twitter.