Things I've Learnt From Three Months Self Employed

Back in May, I made the decision to finally quit my day job and pursue my dream of being a full time illustrator. In that time, I have become a much happier, healthier and nicer person. My old job was pumping poison into me, I had no patience anymore, I was a demon to live with, I was sarcastic, short fused and extremely unpredictable. The worst thing was, I knew it was mainly down to my job that I was behaving this way, not that there was any excuse, but I think it made it even more unbearable knowing I wasn't happy with where my life was going.

Throwing myself into unemployment and teaching myself and others around me that it is in fact self-employment has been a little bit strange, especially when people ask what it is that I do. I was so used to replying 'dog handler' and always in the back of my mind longed for the day I could say 'illustrator' instead. I also appreciate 110% that I wouldn't have been able to do this without James supporting me; if I lived alone this wouldn't be happening right now. That doesn't mean it's impossible though and I wanted to collect together what I have learnt from the past three months of becoming full time self-employed.

1. Save Up A Safety Net
This to me made things a little easier, knowing I wasn't plunging head first into the land of no money but still having bills and a mortgage to pay. Save up as much money as possible, whatever you can scrape together. If you can, reassess what you really need and what is in fact just a luxury. I've cut back on so much since leaving my regular income behind and you know what? I've since realised I never even needed that stuff and I'm so much happier for it. Have a clear out, sell on clothes you never wear, get on eBay, get on Depop and have a total revamp. Reinvent yourself, go wild, start getting creative over how you can redesign your life on a tight budget. It sounds scary but it's doable and fun! I have started selling some dresses that I never wore and have found a lot of fun in buying clothes from eBay myself. I have managed to swipe a couple of skirts recently, one being £1.20 and the other being £1.04...bargain! Cancel those monthly subscription boxes, anything like Netflix (you can recycle films at places like CEX and buy new ones for 50p). Get creative!

2. Some Days Are Going To Suck
Some days, I get the most overwhelming feeling of failure and usually it revolves around money and I get terrorised by thoughts of having to get a new job and go through some terrible interviews. I've had one of those days/weeks recently when my printer died but in order to realise this, I had already bought a whole new set of ink which set me back £50 and then I spent a further £40 on a new printer. I also spent a fair amount on new stock for my shop and also a lot of time on people on Etsy who wanted specific bulk orders arranging but then dropped out at the last minute. It can be really disheartening but the best way I deal with this, is to understand that moments like this will come and go. It makes it so much easier to cope with knowing that it'll pass and the freelancer life in particular is very much peaks and troughs. 

3. Equally, Some Days Will Be Amazing!
As Horace Slughorn once said, there is no light without a dark and there are equally as many brilliant days as there are bad ones. More good days in fact! Some days, I'm that busy with packing orders that I have to carry on working after my dinner or well past the usual time I hit the sack. Sometimes the motivation just hits me and I can spring out of bed at 6am and start drawing, working throughout the entire day and well into the evening. 

4. Get Out Of The House
I always thought this was something I would never struggle with but after three months of my own company, a quiet house and the same old surroundings, you start to notice a bit of a dull block in front of you and it's really important to get out of the house for a bit and regularly too. Today I got invited out for a cup of tea in town with a friend I haven't seen in ages and I nearly didn't go, simply because I suffer quite badly with anxiety and going out, plus I'm a huge introvert and sometimes just don't feel like being around people. But I slapped myself and realised getting out and spending an hour or two with one of my creative friends would do me the world of good and I'd probably return home feeling really fresh and inspired.

5. Remember To Have Proper Breaks
Another one that I didn't realise the importance of, but I used to be a bugger for working whilst eating or skipping lunch altogether. After a month or so of this bad habit, I started to train myself that between the hours of 12 and 2, I could choose an hours slot for lunch where I could fully immerse myself in a film, some music or even read. I like to visit other people's blogs during this time and especially get a change of scenery so I don't always stay in my studio for lunch, although it is really cosy and smells amazing so I do like to stay put after retrieving a sandwich or some salad. I do get myself unlimited cups of tea as well throughout the day because I'm English and that's what we do.

It's been a crazy journey so far and sometimes I have to pinch myself to realise I'm not dreaming and I finally made it to this point, something I never thought would realistically happen. If working from home or working freelance is something you want too, don't give up hope. Carry on working hard and have faith. I'm a big believer in good things come to those who work their socks off for it!

Thanks for reading,

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