Eight Months Self Employed

It's super scary and also beyond exciting to think that very soon it will be an entire year since I waved a jolly goodbye to my old job and took the plunge into self employment. If you're new to my blog - Hi! My name is Ellis and I'm an illustrator, often sharing my life and behind the scenes experiences of running a small business from home.

The Christmas period was far from what I was used to after spending the last five years working in a place I didn't want to be over the festive season. Day in, day out, working over Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing Day, not to mention New Year. Instead I found myself managing my own time, venturing out to do the shopping at quieter times rather than cramming it all into busy evenings or weekends and it was really lovely to spend Christmas at home with my husband and our doggies without it looming over me that I would have to return to work the very next day. However it's not all been easy and that's what these update posts are all about. Documenting what's been cracking off and being able to reflect now and at a later date. 

I thought I had prepared pretty hard for being freelance and self employed. I really thought that I was ready and able to tackle anything that was thrown at me and whilst my confidence and overall health has improved, the last few months have been very quiet and I was faced with new issues, ones that I didn't really see coming. I try to stay as organised as possible with my work, since I'm a one man show I just find it so much easier and less stressful updating things like paperwork once a week, doing regular stock checks and keeping track of everything. When I quit my job I didn't expect magic to happen, but sales certainly became a lot more frequent and I was going to bed every night really quite content with my hard work and success. Granted I wasn't earning as much as I used to, but a drop in pay was to be expected and I was totally fine with that.

Then October came and out of no where everything seemed to plummet. Luckily I'm part of a couple of arty small business group chats and have made some lovely creative friends on Instagram and Twitter who have not only been a huge support but a source of comfort since I quickly learnt that we were all experiencing the same thing. What with all the new algorithms that all of the social media platforms seem to be meddling with, it's become so much harder to promote work and get seen and this is something that started to get me very down. Believe it or not, running accounts is very hard work let alone when you're running a personal and then a business one alongside it. I've been burning myself out and worrying myself sick that my work just wasn't good enough, that I was aiming at the wrong audience, that no one actually liked me, the usual anxiety monsters who like to whisper nasties in your ears late at night.

I've managed to work out as much as I can that this awful feeling seems to be the product of working so, so hard and not actually getting any results from it all. I 100% work longer hours than I used to for a fraction of the pay and money isn't everything after all, but there are odd days where I can't seem to shake the guilty feeling that I'm just not doing enough. I've looked around and seen other people doing so well and oh look there we have it, the terrible impostor syndrome or comparing oneself to others. It never does anyone any good and it's self destruction at it's finest.

I'm very fortunate to be in a position where I can stay at home all day, locked away from the rest of the world doing what I love more than anything else. Many people feel it's an unhealthy way to live and that I should be 'around people' but being a huge introvert, I'm only left feeling sucked of energy when I spend time with people for too long. How awful does that sound of me? Why does that make me feel like an asshole of a human being just for recognising what recharges me and what does the opposite? I have my routine at home, I eat well, I exercise daily, I organise my time, look after the house, and spend valuable time with my dogs. I'm a much nicer person when my husband comes home from work than I used to be when I worked a nightmare job, working for myself has only ever done wonders for us and my health. So why the guilt of not being enough?

I'm not really one for 'new year new me' resolutions but what I would really like to start practising in 2018 is the art of believing in yourself. For many years I've looked in the mirror and seen nothing but a failure, I tell myself in my head that I don't look nice enough and the constant bullying I put myself through is something I wouldn't even expose my worst enemy to. So when shit hits the fan and things are quiet again, which they will be because different months have different levels of spending activity for consumers, I want to step back and tell myself I'm doing my best and that I'm also doing great. Instead of panicking about where the sales have gone, I'm going to work on a new piece of art, actually get stuck into the art journal I've been meaning to commit to for months and just immerse myself even further into the creative world that I love so much. Yoga has become a huge part of my life now and I usually do my sessions in the evening but there is no harm in trying to start the day with a few stretches too and continuing to self care through eating right and taking the time out when I need it. I've absolutely had enough of the constant negative outlook I seem to have when work is really quiet so this year, my first proper year as a self employed person, I'd really like to bop it on the head and become a lot more optimistic.

Thanks for reading,

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