It has been precisely four weeks and three days since I left full-time employment and what a whirlwind it has been! When I first embarked on this career move, my family, friends, and colleagues had their own ‘pearl’ to offer me. As well as taking these (mostly) on board, I have also discovered a few other things since becoming a full-on freelancer;
- Getting dressed
This one is not a difficult one for me, as I get dressed as soon as my feet touch the bedroom floor in the morning. However, I can completely understand how easy it would be just to roll from bed to laptop and remain in PJ’s for the rest of the day which brings me on to my second lesson learned…
- A walk in the park
Getting out before I even open my laptop means I will have got a few steps in (around 4k) and had some fresh air before the day starts. I have even reignited my Borrow My Doggy account which lay dormant for 8 months, introducing me to the wonderful Bagel. I think of it as my commute, it eases me into the day and I have gained a lovely four-legged friend. I now find, if I don’t make it around the park, I find it hard to muster any enthusiasm to leave the house at all!
- Applying for work
It is very easy to create job alerts on various job sites, check your emails every 10 mins and then bulk-apply to any jobs that come through with even a hint of ‘copywriting’ or content management. I am so guilty of having done this in the first few weeks, in fear of missing out on a more regular contract. However, I have changed my ways and resisted the urge to just blindly apply to any role. I now carefully consider the role, take my time to write a cover letter and adjust my portfolio and then click ‘apply’. Patience is key!
- ‘Good-will’ hunting
Keeping in contact with colleagues from previous roles has meant my first few bits of work have been from ex-colleagues, asking me for availability. It has been so welcome, too! Their gesture of goodwill to help me out, whilst getting their work done too. It has meant I have written for a range of bigger clients whom I would never had exposure to. It has also meant I haven’t had to scrabble around for work. I also have a small(ish) pipeline of work as they know how quick I can turn things around now.
- Social networking
This leads me on to my next point; networking! Networking is tricky when you’re a one-man band and only have a certain amount of time in the day- I mean, how many breakfast clubs can one person attend?! Linkedin and my existing contacts have been such a great source of work for me, I have managed to network with fellow writers on Twitter too. I am also going to try a ‘meet-up’ this week, with fellow bloggers in Reading. If nothing else, I look forward to chatting to someone other than myself!
- Being terribly British about pay
Nearly everyone mentioned getting paid to me, as in- make sure it happens! I may have only sent a few invoices out in four weeks but I have already had to have that awkward ‘chasing money’ conversation. And it was just as painful as I imagined. I can only hope I will actually get better at discussing rates and paying invoices etc. Either that or moving forward I can only work with people who will pay me without discussing it…
- Time management and managing time
Time management is fine if you’re not also trying to go to the gym, cook, do the washing, take calls etc. etc. within the usual ‘9-5pm’ time frame. I have not mastered this yet. I am often trying to do 4 things at once, resulting in having to work in the evenings- heck I even found myself sending emails and invoices on Easter Sunday evening! This is definitely something I will learn to do better, managing my time is something that I can work on when I have a bigger contract!
- Bills for bills
Bills, or should I say receipts, have now become my new obsession. As my Mum has become my accountant, she has drilled it into me to collect receipts for everything. I have never been more dedicated to keeping tiny folded pieces of paper in my purse, that is not money!
- It’s ok to say no
I have also been contacted by a strong number of recruiters since changing my employment status. In fairness, I do use job sites to look for contract work but this then inevitably flags me as someone looking for work. I am, of course, looking for some work but it does not mean I will just say yes to any old role. I am very keen to stick to my freelance goal, meaning I often say no to recruiters offering me perm roles. If things change, I may consider going back permanent but for now, I am giving it my best shot.