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Today marks a moment six months ago, where I was six weeks into a new job that I knew wasn’t for me. If hindsight I probably ‘felt it’ much earlier than this, but six weeks is the minimum I think you can give a job before you can make an informed decision. There was nothing wrong with the job itself, it was with a forward-thinking company, in a creative field, working for a super-brand that many in my area would love to work with. Except it wasn’t my dream, or even close.

I work in Marketing (primarily digital – so anything online) and left a job closer to home to work in London for the past 2 and a half years. By February this year, I’d had enough of a three hour commute, of leaving the house at 7.30am and returning at 7.30pm at night. At a good salary that still seemed ‘barely there’ after commuting fees and car fees and just general ‘London’ fees. In a situation where I felt that there were too many meetings for the sake of meetings and reports for the sake of reports.

So I gave a steady job, that I’d spent three interviews trying to get, up at my six month check in and decided I would try to make it freelance. Here’s what I found:

The Good Parts Of Going Freelance

It was easier than I thought

I hate saying this out loud because it seems like I’m tempting the good fortune gods to come and whip all of my work away, but six months in and I still can’t believe that it was this easy (to start making a steady living, not to run a freelance business). This goes against all of the advice of the freelance gurus, but I quit without even one month’s salary saved, with just a kind boyfriend who said he’d ensure I had enough bread and water to keep me going until I found work.

Every article told me to get used to failing hard and regularly. In actual fact, I found it much easier than this to pick up work, keep repeat work and establish a living that relies on a variety of different clients and not just one regular pay check. I think this is due to a mix of companies becoming more adaptive to using the services of freelancers/contractors rather than employing in-house staff and because marketing is such a wide area, where it’s probably easier to pick up work than in say, freelance writing or journalism which is much more competitive. This is a breakdown of what my income looks like for anyone who is interested and feel free to ask me questions about this in the comments below:

Breakdown of freelance work and income

The freedom

I have undoubtedly spent more time working in the evenings and weekends than I used to when I had a steady 9-6. But for me, this is 100% worth it. I don’t think you realise, until you remove yourself from it, that it’s not normal to spend the morning weeping because you’ve got a Water Infection and can’t possibly take an hour off work to go to the Doctors. Or that trying to fit in four grandparents, two nieces, parents, friends, shopping, sleep and housework into one Saturday morning each week is near on impossible. One of my favourite things about being freelance is the freedom to build my own schedule. I do take the occasional morning off to get a coffee with a friend, go to an event or pop in on someone in my family. But I also pick up emails at the weekend, will work late to hit a deadline and can rarely ‘switch off’, even when I’m on holiday. My life is no longer Work/Life – the two mix. But I think this is becoming more common for everyone with the rise of ‘work from home’ days and is definitely the way I prefer to run my town.

The motivation

This is a little personal snaps to myself, but I am surprised at how easy it’s been to stay motivated. If I had a pound for every person who’d mentioned the word ‘Pjs’ or ‘Work from bed’ to me, I’d be sunning myself in Ibiza right now, but I can honestly say there’s not been one day where I haven’t showered, got dressed and got myself to a desk. I think people underestimate how much working for yourself becomes your baby. It’s something you become incredibly proud of and that you want to succeed at – because it’s all yours. It also helps that it’s primarily results-orientated so if you can’t get off Netflix, you probably won’t get your check at the end of the month. In a full-time job you can afford to be hungover/lazy/”sick” every now and again. In a freelance career, there’s no chance of getting away with – and you wouldn’t want to even if you could.

 

The Bad Parts Of Going Freelance

It’s not for everyone

It’s not all suns and roses and trips to Costa. There are times when freelance is really bloody hard. I hate talking about money, particularly when people owe me it, and some of my most difficult times have been negotiating rates or dealing with late payers. In a freelance business you have to be able to deal with everything – accounts, marketing, sales, self-promotion. This isn’t for everyone and there have been times where I sit down at the desk and want to go and crawl back under the covers again. But I think you get this in any job and if you can push through, the rewards far outweigh the costs.

The pressure of being freelance ecard

The pressure

For a Type A, suffering with Imposter Syndrome person like myself, the pressure of running a Freelance career may not have been my best idea. There is a constant worry that you are only as good as your last piece of work, that companies don’t feel the same loyalty to you as they do to permanent employees and that something could go horribly wrong at any moment (thank god for Touche Eclat, sleepless nights). That suddenly someone is going to say “WHO ARE YOU, YOU MASSIVE IMPOSTER AND WHY ARE YOU PRETENDING THAT YOU ARE ANY GOOD AT THIS”. As a result, you have to have an almost unwavering belief in yourself to deliver based on your own skills and abilities. Because after all, that’s what you’re selling – you. This can be hard to maintain, especially without the built-in support network that comes with a regular job. But if you can get passed that – you’re free. You’re your own boss.

 

And it feels pretty damn amazing.

 

If you’re thinking about going freelance and have a question please feel free to ask in the comments below and I’d be happy to give you as much advice as my 6 months of experience will allow. If you are a fellow freelancer then come say Hi! Us guys need to stick together.

 

Beth Gladstone

Beth is a Writer and Digital Marketer who founded The Full Agenda as a place to talk about the things that kept her and her friends up at night. Currently working as a Marketing consultant to various SMEs she is a big fan of the startup market and loves technology, apps and anything social media related. When not obsessively checking Google Analytics, she can be found reading, writing or relaxing with a glass of Prosecco.

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13 Comments

  1. Emma / August 11, 2015 at 10:20 am /Reply

    So glad it’s going well for you! :) I do have a question, which is maybe a subject for a separate post, but how do you find your freelance work? I’d love to know your tips and experience in this area!

    • Beth Gladstone / August 11, 2015 at 4:06 pm /Reply

      Thanks Emma and for reading :-) I’ll definitely jot that down as a future post idea but to give you a very quick overview – a lot of my work has come from companies I’ve worked at in the past who heard I’d gone freelance, or companies that they have referred me to. A (very) small proportion has come from friends/family referral, I have two clients I write for who found me from a guest post I’d done for Social Media Examiner. And then a few who I had ‘cold emailed’ out of the blue to say I wanted to work with them and they’d luckily had a gap. Hope that helps as a very quick overview x

  2. John / August 11, 2015 at 10:20 am /Reply

    Firstly – congratulations on this milestone. I remember seeing you announce you were jumping ship, and it’s great to hear what you’ve found out so far.

    I’m still a way off of doing the same, but I’m very fortunate in as much as I still enjoy my job and the environment I work in.

    One day I’ll get there, and it was very pleasing to read about your experience so far.

    Keep up the great work. Keep pushing and enjoy!

    Oh – and although not about Freelancing – I recommend checking out Gary Vaynerchuk if you haven’t heard of him. He’s someone I follow very closely and he’s a no-nonsense kinda guy.

    John

    • Beth Gladstone / August 11, 2015 at 3:53 pm /Reply

      Thanks John! I think marketing is ideal for freelancing and I’m sure you’ll be celebrating your own 6 month milestone soon! As you say though, if you enjoy what you do there’s no rush. I’m not sure I would have done it this quickly if I hadn’t moved to a job that I really didn’t get on with. I have listened to a few of Gary’s shows.. he takes some getting used to but you’re right – no-nonsense :-)

      Thanks for the support!

  3. Beba / August 11, 2015 at 11:34 am /Reply

    This post is great. I’m a programmer student and I plan to work as a freelancer too , so this post really inspired me to keep going !

    http://www.bebagottel.blogspot.com

    • Beth Gladstone / August 11, 2015 at 3:51 pm /Reply

      Thanks Beba, you definitely should especially with programming – there’s such a gap for it in the freelance market! Lovely blog too by the way :-)

  4. Melissa / August 11, 2015 at 2:27 pm /Reply

    Yes yes yes!
    I love love love this article, Beth.
    From one freelancer to another, hats off to you. Honestly, freelance is such a risk, even when you are doing incredibly well and I’m glad that you are. It can be a bit odd, without people to do the work chit-chat with day to day, but I’m only a tweet away :)

    Gosh, this comment went on for ages but happy 6 months :) x

    • Beth Gladstone / August 11, 2015 at 3:48 pm /Reply

      Thanks so much Melissa :-) it is a risk you’re right but I also think it’s so rewarding! Will definitely keep an eye on your blog and tweets… sometimes a few good convos on Twitter are what get me through the day! Thanks for your support, it means a lot x

  5. Bree / August 11, 2015 at 3:21 pm /Reply

    I love this post! I can relate to so much of it! I’ve been blogging full time for about 6 months now and it is a lot of fun but can also be so so hard!

    xo Bree
    http://bree-west.com

    • Beth Gladstone / August 11, 2015 at 3:47 pm /Reply

      Thanks Bree, you’re so right – it can go from fun, to stressful, to fun again so quicky! It’s so great to see how many of us there are freelancing full-time now. Will definitely have a read of your blog too :-)

  6. Ruth / August 11, 2015 at 7:19 pm /Reply

    Such a great post, congratulations! I have just left a full time, secure, good benefits job to take on a part time role in retail and go freelance for the rest of the time (having just bought my first house I had to do both). It is so good to hear you are doing so well and I can really relate, especially to the ‘pressure’ part. Hopefully one day I will move from part time freelance to full time freelance! Hope the good luck continues :) Ruth x

    • Beth Gladstone / August 11, 2015 at 7:45 pm /Reply

      Thanks Ruth and well done for taking the jump to freelance! I agree it’s hard work but so, so worth it and I bet in a few months you’ll feel so happy you did it and the work will keep on building! Good luck and keep me updated on how you do :-) x

  7. Kimberley / March 16, 2016 at 4:58 pm /Reply

    Hahahaha that’s so true!! I’m always waiting for someone to catch me out and say “Erm, you don’t really know what you’re doing, do you?” But it’s good to remember that actually, I do. Great post!

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