Whilst most people spend months or even years umm-ing and ahh-ing about whether they can afford to take a big ol’ leap of faith in themselves and go self-employed, for me it was very different.
Whilst enjoying a weekend in Ipswich visiting Chris, I’d had a phone call from my land lady to tell me that there had been a burst water pipe in the flat above mine and that it *might* have leaked through into mine.
Spoiler: It had.
And so a week later Chris asked if I wanted to move in with him and I found myself packing up boxes and asking my boss whether I could go down to part-time and y’know, maybe also work from home because HI I’M LEAVING LONDON.
And so I became self-employed. I freelanced for Metro.co.uk for a few months before going full-time with the blog. And let me tell you, it’s been quite the ride.
So yeah, here’s the biggest surprises I’ve encountered so far.
I get between eight and nine hours sleep a night. I always have done. I’m a big sleeper. I was that kid at sleepovers who everyone else would put face paint on and put her hand in a bowl of water because I. Could. Not. Stay. Awake. Ever.
But despite the full night’s sleep, I am always freakin’ exhausted. Way much more exhausted then when I spent four hours a day commuting to and from London and ensuring I was on the 6.47am train to London Bridge five times a week.
I could nap at any given time. I need coffee at any given time. I put it down to the amount of thoughts and ideas whizzing about my head constantly. With being self-employment there is no end, you’ve never completed everything. You are always behind.
I knew that I would have to work harder, ‘cos girl got to hustle to make sure she can pay her own bills, but man, I did not know the sheer exhaustion that would come alongside it, even when you get enough sleep.
I am awkward with the neighbors who take in my never-ending stream of parcels. I am awkward with the delivery men who deliver the never-ending stream of parcels. I am awkward with the people in Starbucks who try and make small-talk by asking if I’m up to anything nice for the rest of the day. And I’m awkward with the family members who say ‘ooh better not say that, you might put it on your blog‘.
I’m not an awkward person, but being self-employed, being a blogger, makes me feel awkward. And I think maybe it’s down to this fear that people don’t believe me. That people don’t believe I financially support myself. That people might think I haven’t worked my absolute toosh off to get here. That people might think I’m lazy. That people might think I call myself a blogger whilst lazing about on the sofa buying things from ASOS with my boyfriend’s/parent’s money.
And I know I shouldn’t care about what people think, but somehow, I still do.
Having come from working in a bustling office full of chatty, outgoing women in their twenties, thirties and forties, suddenly working in silence felt obscure. More than obscure, it felt a bit frightening. I felt alienated from the world around me.
Sometimes I worry that my weekly vlog just looks like me gallivanting off to meet other bloggers, but sweet diggity my mental health would be in tatters if it wasn’t for the local girl tribe I’ve built around me.
Being self-employed is incredibly lonely, and it’s hard because you don’t have a mentor or a boss or even colleagues to bounce ideas off, or someone to comfort you with a cup of tea and a biscuit on a shit day.
Which is why it’s super important to network with other self-employed people who just get it. Because it often feels like the rest of the world doesn’t.
I never dealt with the payments for the first year of my blogging journey because I worked with an agency who paid me every three months because they took care of the individual payments from brands for sponsored content.
The more I work with brands, the more I roll my eyes all the way back to 1995 over how utterly shit they are at paying. (Soz to all you good eggs out there who pay withing 30 days – you da best).
I’d say I currently chase 75% of all invoices I send out because the 30 day payment terms come and go without any of the agreed fee landing in my bank account. My ultimate faves are the PRs who chase and chase their finance department for you only to come back and tell you that you never filled in a new supplier form. You mean the new supplier form you never told me about? Sure sure.
It makes budgeting and attempting to space out your sponsored content an absolute nightmare because one month you’ll have a grand fee of £0 paid into your account and a casual £5k the next month.
Despite sounding like a negative Nancy I bloomin’ love love love what I do, and can’t imagine not being my own boss (mostly because I’m v rubbish at trusting anyone’s judgement over my own).
Are any of you guys self-employed, had any of the above or any of your own surprises?