How I Went Self Employed

This time last year, I had handed my notice in with no where to go but my own home studio to try and make a full time go of my illustration business. I was terrified, excited and anxious for the future, where everything was going to go from there and whether or not I'd made a huge mistake or timed everything as best as I could. It was always my long term plan to leave my old job, I hated it with a passion and any enjoyment I once had for it had long gone. My only real escape was my own studio at home, where I was building a small business on the side with every spare second I had.

The first couple of months weren't so bad as I'd saved up a little bit of money to fall back onto which is probably one of the best pieces of advice for anyone planning to quit their regular income for self employment, where wages don't really exist and there is no knowing when work will come in. I structured a routine for myself and there hasn't really been a time when I've slacked and just bummed around which I'm quite proud of. Obviously there have been 'sick days' but having the option to do my work from the comfort of my own home means I've been able to self care whilst also still getting a little bit of work done. It took a long time for me to get my head around being allowed to have an hours lunch break as prior to this I've only ever known half hour lunches and it also took around 10-11 months for the early morning wake up panics to stop where I always thought I would have to go in to my old workplace. I think because of this, I've always practiced a bit of mindfulness as soon as I wake up; every morning I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to work from home and I never ever want to take it for granted. I do some yoga first thing with a cup of tea and feel so much more alive and appreciative for the position I'm in.

The same with lunches and waking up to start my working day at home, I can't quite get over being able to take time off whenever I like. Granted I usually don't really take a great deal of time off because I love what I do so much that staying away feels like torture, but not having to worry about begging a manager for time off to spend with my husband for his birthday feels amazing. Last Christmas I was also able to spend all of it with family and at home, something I hadn't been able to do due to a horrible rota for the 5 years previously, so that felt awesome too. I was used to working 7 days in a row and coming home stinking of dogs every single day; I can't tell you how much I love being in an environment that doesn't leave me stinking foul at the end of every shift!

A not so pleasant thing I have experienced a fair bit which I feel is important to address is crippling self doubt and my inner critic telling me that it's not going anywhere and that I'm not trying hard enough. For a while too, people around you don't seem to realise that just because you're always at home it doesn't mean you sit doing sweet F.A. all day, twiddling your fingers with your thumb planted firmly up your arse. And I think because of some snarky comments I've had over the last few months, I seem to beat myself up sometimes and I let it get to me. I've had people just turn up before because they know I'm usually at home and I find it really awkward explaining to them that I'm trying to get some work done. Of course there are some days, even weeks when not much happens so the inner critic feeds off this and tells you you're not trying hard enough and that's why you're not seeing results. I'm still in training and getting used to the peaks and troughs, also getting into the habit of always having a personal project to be working on when things might be quiet helps more than you'd think.

Being a freelancer has also turned me into more of a minimalist and I don't spend anywhere near as much money on stuff I don't need or won't use. I used to be a bugger for 'nipping' into Superdrug for some shampoo and coming out with loads of different things to try. It's made me more thrifty and conscious of where I'm buying from; I've started to recycle clothes, buy from places like eBay and charity shops, get rid of stuff I've not worn in 2 years and I'm really very happy with the more minimalist life. I can't believe I used to spend so much on things like makeup and clothes that I never wear so I'm really very pleased with this lifestyle change. Of course I've always loved to support other small businesses, but now more than ever I know how much of a difference one small purchase can make to an indie seller so I'm always trying to do my bit and go to them rather than the big brands and that feels great too.

There has been a huge amount of things to learn along the way, like spending ages replying to enquiries won't always result in some work and a lot of the time the work is like waiting for a bus - you wait for an absolute age then loads of them come along at once. But we're not alone in this crazy self-employed world and it's definitely a tough thing to be doing, especially if you do everything yourself. I think now more than ever it's very hard to run an online shop in terms of getting some customers and sales so I also try to share my favourite creatives. Having a blog not only helps to share my work and behind the scenes bits and bobs but it also keeps me sane when I want to take a little step back from my shop and I still really enjoying running this little online space.

Last month I opened up a Patreon account which I have been a little quiet about since it still feels a little strange to me and some people really do frown upon it, but this is going to be where I can send out some mystery boxes from my shop and produce exclusive products and content so if you are interested you can find me here but please don't feel like you have to. It's just an extra corner for people to get involved a bit more with my work if they wish to do so. Overall, this has been one of the best decisions of my life and there is nothing else I would rather be doing. So thankyou if you have stuck with me along the way and supported what I do, I couldn't have done it without you.

Thankyou for reading,

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