Did you jump or were you pushed?
Talking about how you got into freelancing
In my three years as a freelancer, I’ve learned that there’s no single route into self-employment. Some people study with the goal of self-employment while others (like myself) are pushed into it. I wonder whether it makes a difference to your overall freelancing experience if you came to this point of your own volition or otherwise.
Many fellow self-employed folks will identify with the myriad reactions from family, friends even clients about the fact that, yes, we do actually choose to work for ourselves. Early in my freelance career, I was offered a job by a client (which I politely turned down), and I know I’m not the only one to face this well-meaning but awkward conversation.
Freelancing isn’t a last resort, or a temporary solution until we find something else, it’s a conscious career move - even if we didn’t initially come here by choice.
My own journey to freelancing was certainly a not-so-gentle push. In January 2019, I was working in a digital development and content role for a large business in Sydney, Australia. I saw a sponsorship in my not-to-distant future, or at least another similar role earning more than I ever had here in the UK.
Then I received a call from home and learned that my mam had suspected Pancreatic Cancer. So, four days later I was sitting on a plane with the company laptop in my bag having agreed with my manager to complete the website build from home. Hopefully, I’d even be on my way back, laptop in hand, within a few weeks.
However, the diagnosis was bad so I waved goodbye to my dreams Down Under and continued working on the website while caring for my mam until she was too unwell and moved to a nearby hospice.
Upon realising I probably wouldn’t be returning to Australia, I posted on LinkedIn to say I was back in the UK and working for myself… I was immediately contacted by a former employer to support content creation.
I hopped onto the government website, registered as self-employed under the moniker Content By The Sea and all of a sudden I was freelance.
While my mam’s illness was short, it was very intense and there was absolutely no way I could get a job during this time. I spent most of my days driving to and from hospital appointments, replying to emails on the NHS WiFi and hiding in the back bedroom so as not to wake her from sporadic naps.
I was also trying my best to look after my nephew, who was 11 at the time and lived full-time with my parents. Picking him up from school, taking him to sports clubs and cooking a variation of his favourite brown food took up the rest of my time.
It’s safe to say this was a far cry from Bondi Beach…
But I never considered returning to Australia as it felt like that ship had sailed and I was needed at home.
With the confirmation of the bad news, Craig came back to the UK in February and, nine days before she passed away in April 2019, we adopted our first rescue greyhound, Potter.
I’d always dreamed of having a dog and now freelancing made this possible. Thanks to the wonderfully small and tight-knit community of the North East creative and digital sector, I quickly acquired some regular clients and a few cold emails brought in wins that then led to even more referrals.
I think freelancing was always an end goal for me, as I never felt entirely at home in a traditional office-based role (and this was before flexible working was as common as it is now). But I didn’t expect to take the plunge when I did.
Having asked the Twittersphere about how they got into self-employment, it’s clear I’m not alone in this.
Meanwhile, others were pretty calculated in their decision to embark on self-employment:
I received 160+ responses to this tweet! Read them all over on Twitter.
I’d love to hear your thoughts how you got into freelancing - or why it’s not for you. You’ll find me on Twitter @ContentByTheSea.
Having missed last week, this list is at risk of being huge so here are some highlights:
The Boys (S3 - Amazon Prime)
Love Island (ITV 2)
Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Nam-Joo Cho
Last Night In Soho (2021)
See you next Wednesday (unless I’ve had a baby) with more musings on topics that are important to me, including but not limited to: mental health, work/life balance, internet culture, and much more.
Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:
8th June: Why hitting pause is terrifying
1st June: I’m angry
25th May: To err is to human, but when to -er?
18th May: Can you ever be too prepared?
11th May: Finding the path of least resistance
5th May: Should brands take a stance?
27th April: Social media has always been evil
21st April: Who are we really?
13th April: The ultimate grammar debate
6th April: Has social media killed nuanced debate?