Fledgeling freelancer – reflections on the first months of self-employment

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When I left my journalism job of 20 years in March all I had was a bunch of ideas and a financial cushion which meant I didn’t need to worry about the mortgage for a while.

I didn’t know whether I wanted another full-time job or to freelance – and freelance as what?

What I did know is that I wanted new challenges.

Friends told me to take my time, try stuff out and see where it led.

What does ‘exploring options’ mean?

You hear people saying they spent time ‘exploring options’ but I never really understood what that meant in practice.

However, I found that my days quickly filled up meeting contacts and former colleagues, researching, reading and going on courses to enhance my existing skills and learn some new ones.

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In the end, freelancing found me as I was approached about doing some copywriting, shortly after I was asked if I’d like to moderate at a conference.

I got some regular work and a couple of one-off projects and, before I knew it, I was thinking I should probably get properly set up as a business.

Transferable skills

It’s been an incredible journey so far. I’ve learned so much not least the true meaning of ‘transferable skills’.

You don’t realise how adaptable your expertise is until someone asks for help with something you’d not thought about doing before.

The realisation ‘yes, I can do that’ is a powerful one not least because you see a lot of different avenues opening up.

Talking about rates

I still feel like a fledgeling in the world of freelance and I still have lots to learn – not least getting used to talking about my rates after 25 or so years of pay being a taboo subject.

But what I do know is that I wouldn’t be where I am now without the advice and encouragement I’ve received along the way.

I’ve had my moments of self-doubt and worry that this isn’t going to work but I’ve always been buoyed along by my friends, former colleagues and contacts.

Advice to pass on

And that would be my most important bit of advice for anyone moving into the world of freelance – build a network, not just to fuel your business but for emotional support and encouragement.

I’m looking forward to seeing where 2019 takes me but before then, it’s time for a bit of a break. Happy Christmas!

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