Three years in business: the highs, lows and lessons learned

Self-employment was never planned, it happened by accident when I was made redundant, but three years in, I’m more determined than ever to make it work.

I’m not going to lie, it has been a rollercoaster ride, a mixture of exhilaration and fear.

At the Game Fair in 2019 trying on Emma Drake’s fab hat

Some days I wonder what the hell I’m doing. On others I feel I could conquer the world.

The first year felt like I was stumbling around, succeeding mostly on luck and chance.

In the second year, I had my first major setback, a large retainer came to an end, leaving a big gap in my income.

But it kicked me up the bum to start being more strategic about what I wanted to do and what I wanted my business to look like, which meant marketing myself.

It’s when I started exploring LinkedIn and learning to use it properly.

Putting myself ‘out there’ via LinkedIn posts felt uncomfortable and unnatural. I worried terribly what ‘people’ would think.

I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where I’m completely at ease, but I worry about it a lot less.

Another lightbulb moment

Two and a half years in, I had another light bulb moment; this was in part a response to stress and anxiety rearing their ugly heads.

Continue reading “Three years in business: the highs, lows and lessons learned”

Self-employment survival in a pandemic

On the first day of lockdown, a year ago, it was the quiet that was most unnerving.

I live in South West London, opposite a small park, and there is always the sound of a ball being kicked or bounced on the sports pitches.

Taken at Megan’s in Clapham the day the first lockdown was announced

An aircraft flying over, a car going by or someone talking loudly on their phone. Even on my relatively unpopulated street.

My neighbourhood had been switched off. But friends and family sprang to life; Zoom calls were organised, regular Whatsapp messages sent to check in on each other.

In contrast, being self-employed, there were no colleagues to rally around and huge uncertainty about what would happen to business.

I had enough work to see me through the first few weeks, but regular writing gigs started to dry up.

Negotiations about new work stopped.

There were debates on LinkedIn about whether it was appropriate to be marketing during a pandemic. How else was I get work if I didn’t stay visible?

Visibility campaign

I adjusted my approach but threw myself into a visibility campaign. In those first few months, I was never in a position where I didn’t have any work; it was just small bits and pieces.

Continue reading “Self-employment survival in a pandemic”

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

white brown and black hummingbird
Photo by Pixabay on

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.

Continue reading “Fledgeling freelancer – reflections on the first months of self-employment”