Successful self employment
Following on from my last post - make working from home work for you - I wanted to come back with some more self-employment tips.
Working for yourself isn't for everyone - and it can seem like an easy option, never having to squeeze yourself onto a train at the crack of dawn or navigate the frustrating politics of the tea rounds - but though there are a lot of positives, there are also unique challenges that come from being solely responsible for your income, your output, and your promotion.
One of the steep learning curves we all have to master is promoting ourselves enough to bring more work in, while managing the work we already have, and properly invoicing and balancing the books to cover all the bills when payments don't land into our accounts on the same day each month the way they used to in traditional employment.
Promoting yourself is something we can all be terribly British about - and, despite it being my job to write copy and promote businesses online, I am as guilty as anyone else of letting my own PR slide down the to-do list when I have clients to focus on.
In my last post, I asked for tips from other freelance workers, curious whether we all experience the same challenges, and how other people overcome them.
Greg Henley - a copywriter who has also freelanced for a number of years - offered this tip:
I've read a few things that say it's good to change the rooms you work in every so often, and how we don't always have brilliant ideas in an office space. So changing it up from time to time is a wise thing to do.
I know that this is something that's worked for me in the past - sometimes, it really helps to take a break and walk away from something that's stumped you, and a change of scene can help you to overcome a creative block and find inspiration when you are at the end of your tether.
When I've worked in an office, it's hard to find those opportunities - but self-employment means that I can work anywhere in my home, or even outside of my home - cafe's, coffee shops, country parks, even a little hidden spot in the forest centre I live close to designed for birdwatching, which offers a quiet retreat from the outside world and is a fantastic spot to get some writing done, away from all modern distractions.
Also, I saw a woodpecker, which was cool.
Another tip I think is important came from Kathryn Minchew - AKA The Pyromaniac Chef (who makes the most spectacular food in a very unique environment - check her out!)
I think going freelance means you need to take your social life more seriously. When I was in my last office job there were loads of people I had little chats with throughout the day. Now, I can go entire days where I don’t talk to anyone outside my family. Given that self-employment tends to be quite project based it can be tricky but I work so much better when I’m seeing a wider group of people.
This is definitely something I've been guilty of - and if I didn't have small children who needed taking to school I could spend entire weeks in the same state of undress, pyjamas and headband at the ready, working from home in various gloomy rooms without so much as a whiff of the outside world, or the people who populate it. Which is definitely not healthy!
One of the things I've tried to do when I first relocated to Bedford was to create a network - socially and professionally.
This meant attending networking events and meeting more people who worked in the same kind of environment I do - and pushing myself onto people with coffee dates and playdates until I'd worn them down enough to be my friend!
I'm not naturally very outgoing - though I can do a very good impression of it which makes people think I'm quite confident - but I know that if I go too long without being around people, I get very lonely - and taking the chances to socialise, to switch off, to have some fun, mean I'm more ready and focused when I get back to work.
Self employment means you have to depend on yourself a lot more than in any other environment - but it also means you have to be more creative about building your team. And we all need a team. People we can call on for feedback and advice, people who can support what we do with their own skills and experience, and people we can just let go with and forget about work.
I'd love to hear your advice and tips, from any experience you have of self-employment, and anything that's held you back if you've decided against it - leave me a comment below.