I’ve seen a lot of questions about this on various Facebook groups and, suffering with imposter syndrome as I do, I’ve never felt quite legit enough to write about it. Not “freelance” enough if you will.
Which is ridiculous really. I quit my full time job and all my earnings come from freelance work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those amazing bloggers who can be all “how I make £5000 a month”, but I make enough to pay my bills and fund my wine & book habits comfortably. So I figured, I needed to have some faith. I’m proof that a “normal” (lol!) person can become her own boss, without being funded by wealthy parents (if only!) or my spouse (who actually runs his own company so we’re in the same boat!)
So how did it happen? Well, back when I was just a blogging baby (& by that I mean my blog was in its infancy, not that I was a weirdly talented blogging child), I read Sophie Lizard’s blog about how she made a proper, real-life living from blogging. Like, say what?! I decided that that was the dream. As I progressed, and learnt more, I realised that it was no longer a dream, but an official goal. As a stubborn person, this was the start of hard work, blood sweat and tears!
I started working towards going freelance during my sabbatical year as my Students’ Union Vice President. I spent so much time researching, reading and pinning to private Pinterest boards about the world of freelance writing. I felt shy telling anyone my plan because even now, it sounds ridiculous.
With the help of my very clever other half, I registered as a sole trader and put all the boring spreadsheets in place.
The contract for that job ended in June 2015 and I started my new job, in Manchester. At first, I loved the job so much, that going freelance seemed like something for much further in the future. I still carried on my foundation laying, and as I learned more about the big world of Digital Marketing, I stored it all away for future use.
I took on a few clients at this time, managing their social media. Some were people I knew in real life, one was a lady who had posted in a group asking for help. (Side note: I’m going to write a blog soon about how digital marketing is about more than just queueing up tweets so watch his space).
None of those clients were paying me the amount they “should”. They were all small businesses and I was new to the scene. This is the way most people start and it was great experience (but I didn’t work for free!). I liked the people, and I cared about their businesses. One company gave me free yoga in exchange for my services which I loved & that project gave me chance to try out the new skills I was learning. It wasn’t sustainable long-term at this point, but alongside my full time job it worked well.
I kept my eyes out for sponsored posts, or people needing bits written. I have a knack for CV writing so I offered my services around for £20 a CV. Again, it wasn’t going to fund my life, but it was a nice bit of change and a feather for my cap (I love that saying! I’d love a feathery cap.)
Laying the foundations was a full time job in itself. Every morning on the train, as soon as I got home from work, and every weekend.
If you want something that bad, you really have to work for it.
My “deadline” to myself began to creep closer. Originally it was by the end of 2016. Then by the summer. Then, after some pretty great pep talks from the girls in my dressing room at panto, I decided to do one last push, to contact some leads and, after working out that I could afford to leave, I handed in my notice.
I had worked out exactly how much I took home from my salary, after I deducted the huge travel costs and how much I could realistically live on. There was a lot of maths involved!
It was scary beans. But I had contacted places I had worked before and offered my services. One company, that I worked at during uni, pretty much pay all my bills, rent and food now. (In exchange for work obviously. Not just as a weirdly kind thing to do!). Once I had secured that long-term project, I knew it was “safe” to leave, and that if my outgoing a were covered, I could just work on making the extra.
I spent a lot of time on freelancing sites, although I’ve only done one or two bits on there as I find that it takes far too long to pitch for the return. However, work does dry up, I know that I can start pitching on there again.
I kept my eyes peeled (isn’t that such a gross phrase?!) for any website that said they needed writers and contacted anyone and everyone. I contacted my old University and asked if I could write for them – they said yes and it’s my highest paying job per article!
Things have grown a lot already in just a few months. I’ve been approached by two different companies asking me to create vlogs for them – this is crazy as I don’t even have 300 subscribers on my channel yet!
The scary part about being freelance is that it’s sink or swim. The only person making sure the money is coming in is me. But I love that. I love the pressure and the excitement and knowing that the harder I work, the more money I can earn.
I like having my fingers in many a pie as it means if one project falls through, I haven’t lost my entire income. It also keeps life exciting!
So that’s my story up to now! It hasn’t been smooth sailing but even on the most stressful days it’s still been worth it.
I’d like to write more about freelancing sometime, would that be helpful? What would you like to know? Tell me in the comments!