I can’t believe that it has been three whole years since I left my job and decided to become self employed. Not only was I becoming soley responsible for my income but I was also going for a big industry change. In case you don’t know I previously worked in a veterinary referral hospital assisting in the wards and working in the hydrotherapy unit helping to rehabilitate dogs and the occasional cat. I am now a Freelance Writer and Social Media Manager focusing mainly on fashion. So, what have I learnt in the past three years?
The first piece of advise I was given when I told people I was going to be working for myself was that you should get up and ready for the day as if you were going out to work. NEVER work in your pajamas or you won’t be motivated. I’m sure for some people this is true but as far as I’m concerned it is a load of rubbish. If I want to sit in my office all day in my jammies I will. I find the fact that no one is earning my money for me motivation enough.
Schedule Your Day.
I do try to plan out my days. I know which clients I am working with on which days and for how many hours. I also find it helpful to schedule any meetings in the second half of the week. This is because I have got the bulk of my work done by this point and like to feel like everything is under control before I leave the office. I also hope that my current schedule will allow for me to spend Fridays working on my blog. Having my office in my home does often pose a bit of an issue. Yes there are many bonuses (cheaper than renting space, super fast commute) but there are also down sides. My office is on the ground floor of my house which is relatively open plan. This means that it is very easy to sit at my laptop seven days a week so my work life balance could be significantly better. This has led to me deciding to move my office onto the first floor into the spare bedroom. If you have the option I would advise having your office positioned so that you can shut the door on it when you aren’t in working hours.
In some respects I am very old fashioned in that I am good for my word, a handshake means a lot and I always stand by a verbal contract. Unfortunately this has caught me out in the past. I previously managed the social media accounts for a clothing company. I had no written contract so didn’t have a leg to stand on when they were approached by a PR company who could offer them more than I could. Of course I don’t blame them at all and would have done the same in their position. For me this meant that I was paid that weeks work and that was it. The money that I relied on as a regular wage was no longer there. Having a written contract provides you with that little bit more protection and shows what is expected from both parties. It also helps to have things clearly set out should there be any disputes over payment.
When you first become self employed it is very easy to say yes to every single opportunity that comes your way. If I was to go back in time and give myself advice it would be to say no more often. If you don’t want to do something then don’t do it. If you don’t love what you are doing it will show in your work. Before saying yes to something now, I always consider if it will benefit me and my business, whether I believe I can do the job well and if I can really help the person I will be working for. This leads on to my next point……
Working For Free.
When I started freelance I quite often worked for magazines for free. This is mainly because I needed to build up a portfolio especially given that I was moving industries. It is very easy to stay in this routine of working for free and unfortunately many people exploit this. You are offered payment in the form of seeing your name in print and general exposure. It is ok for a little bit but having my name in a magazine doesn’t pay the bills. People will always try and take advantage of you wanting to help out and gain further experience so I would say carefully monitor anything you do for free and if it doesn’t benefit you then don’t do it. Personally unless it is really worth my while I will no longer offer my time or skills for free.
Are you self employed? I would love to know what you have learnt and if you have any top tips!
A special thank you to the lovely Pippa from Clashing Time who took all of these fabulous photos!