Going it alone - surviving self-employment

It’s been almost three months since I started working for myself as a freelance writer.  I can’t believe I’m actually writing that sentence, because the idea that anybody would ever pay me to write for them had been a dream I never thought I would make come true.

Working every day for myself and doing something I love is amazing, but it can also be unsettling.  It struck me recently that the last time I felt this sense of genuine upheaval was when I was going through a divorce.  There’s that same reckless sense of having just thrown everything I had up into the air, with no real idea how it would all land.  The same stomach-churning sense of relishing my new-found freedom, mixed right in with the fear of whether I could actually handle it.   

To find out, I decided I would have to simply plough on forwards, give my absolute best to every opportunity that came my way and…well, just see what happened.

My business is growing every day, and as I approach the end of my first quarter-year, here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the way!

1. Scream into the face of things that scare you…
Over the past three months I’ve not only ‘networked effectively’ (translation: actually talked to and worked with strangers masquerading as businesspeople and realised they’re as human and flaw-ful as I am) but I’ve also recorded two Facebook Live videos.  I’m a natural introvert, so both of these activities brought me out into a cold sweat just thinking about them, but I knew that if I wanted to progress, I’d have to take a deep breath and simply get on with it.

(I’ve started to notice that every little thing I do that’s different and scary makes me feel stronger, braver and more confident.  It’s a fair exchange!)

2.…but not every day
As I got started, one of the most important pieces of advice I received, though I didn’t know it at the time, was to take at least one full day each week and not do anything work-related.  At all.  Yes, I felt guilty at first, but thankful when I began my next day at work feeling energised and raring to go from the break.   

3. Give yourself some structure
One of the things I took for granted in a traditional office was the automatic structure it provided. I may work from home these days, but I still have a set routine during the week that stops every day from blending into one amorphous, terrifying mass. 

There’s a lot to manage when you’re out on your own, so I split my business areas into different sections (finances, networking, social media, actual client work), and at the end of each day, record everything I’ve done.  I also plan out each week according to the wider goals I’ve set for the month.   This doesn’t take half as long as it sounds! – and it helps me focus on days when I’m feeling lost or overwhelmed.

4. Recruit some cheerleaders
It’s so very easy to feel anxious when you work for yourself.  After all, I’m responsible for everything, and on some days that’s a lot harder to deal with than others.  My daily spreadsheet helps me realise how well I’m doing, but so does my best friend.  When I update her, she naturally hones in on all the good stuff and gets excited about it for me, helping me to separate the wood from the trees – and ultimately appreciate how far I’ve come.  

I now spend my days translating thoughts and feelings into words people want to read, and I’m quite good at it even if I do say so myself!  So if there’s something you’re struggling with – whether it’s your CV, some website copy, a profile or even a personal memoir, then why not contact me?