I didn’t find freelancing, freelancing found me. After being made redundant from a job I’d had for 20 years, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
But then people started asking if I could help with things like writing, training and moderating and so I stumbled into self-employment.
It wasn’t something I’d ever considered or imagined I’d end up doing. There was no planning, no expectations, I hadn’t stopped to think about what it would be like – or whether I was suited to it.
Like learning to run my own business it has been a voyage of self-discovery and continues to be.
I’ve learned a lot about myself, my strengths and weaknesses. There are times I’m burdened with self-doubt, feel overwhelmed and that I don’t really know what I’m doing.
It can feel lonely, isolating and scary at times.
Finding your own way
There is no one to pick you up when things go wrong or don’t work out, so you learn to do it yourself. There is no one to take over when you are struggling, you have to find your own way through it.
It requires strength, resilience and persistence and I’ve got more of that than I realised. At those times I thought I would flounder I’ve surprised myself. I’ve developed a new level of confidence.
Skills I’d pigeon-holed for my former job have transferred to new areas I hadn’t imagined. That is thanks to people seeing what my experience and expertise offered, rather than a personal realisation.
Although I’m now getting better at recognising how I can transfer and adapt my skills to develop my business. And it’s opened up a new world of opportunities and it’s a world that keeps expanding.
What I’ve discovered is the joy and liberation of getting to decide on the work I do and the direction of my business. I choose what I want to do, the type of work and who I work with.
It is not easy turning down work because it isn’t what I want to do, especially when the pipeline is starting to dry up but I’ve learned that it is better in the long term.
The biggest discovery is the sense of satifaction I get from freelancing.
At first it was looking at my accounts, seeing the list of invoices knowing that it was all the fruit of my labour, no one elses.
As I’ve learned more about running a business and in particular marketing, that sense of satisfaction has grown.
Deciding on my goals, planning how I’ll achieve them and then seeing my marketing efforts start to pay off.
A huge part of the satisfaction comes in the process, plugging away and sticking to the plan even when it looks like it is going nowhere.
Then the sense achievement when you get the first breakthrough. Getting the work you want, doing the work and then getting paid for it is hugely satisfying.
Being paid for something that is entirely my effort, something that I have built, that I have engineered doesn’t feel like anything I achieved in my full-time job.
It is a different level of satisfaction and a huge spur to keep going and get better at running my business. And it isn’t something I could never have appreciated without feeling it for myself.