After two years of freelancing while keeping an eye out for vacancies with permanent jobs, I made a big decision at the end of last year – to commit completely to becoming self-employed.
Having submitted countless applications, only to never hear back or find I’d been unsuccessful, I became fed up of going for roles that weren’t 100% suited to me.
The final straw came after an interview in Bradford for a marketing job at a law firm.
I got back into my car, frustrated because I felt it had gone awfully, and ranted to myself all the way home about what a ridiculous waste of time it had all been.
‘I don’t want to work in f***ing Bradford anyway. What am I even doing here?’
Once I got home, I settled down to focus on my freelance work and answered an email from a client asking for support on setting up a Twitter account.
What he needed was a bit of confidence for posting things and putting himself out there – something I feel totally at home providing for others.
That was when I realised – it was time I put a stop to trying to find work at a large, faceless company, and time I put everything into working freelance, for a variety of clients where I could make a difference.
Since then, I genuinely haven’t looked back. I’m absolutely loving the freelance life, not least because it allows me to fit my career around having a young, growing family. I’m honestly getting the best of all worlds.
So, today I wanted to celebrate the freelance lifestyle by sharing my story, and those of others, to show the world just how great it is (and also how flipping hard we all work!).
Catherine Gladwyn, Delegate VA
It’s enabled me to adjust to a life of medication, fatigue and lots of hospital visits following a brain tumour.
It’s enabled me to learn things I’d never have learnt as an employee (and I’ve still never needed to put anyone in a sling!).
It’s enabled me to earn more than I could’ve ever earned in my home town, unless I was willing to be stressed out 24/7.
Berenice Smith, Hello Lovely Graphic Design
I went freelance to make a change in my life after failed IVF and recurrent miscarriages.
It’s meant I’ve had time to explore my grief and create opportunities to support others who are childless, not by choice, and may need an empathetic designer for their ‘Plan B’.
Freelancing has enabled me to have the time to be creative and relieve the artist in me, it’s created a reprieve from the anxiety and depression a committed role seems to bring me.
Freelancing allowed me to actually be able to work and contribute financially to our household.
My son is disabled and returning to work full-time wasn’t an option due to me being his primary carer – there’s no such thing as childcare in school holidays for kids like mine!
Being able to freelance as a Facebook Ads Manager also helped massively with my mental health and enabled me to feel like a useful member of society again.
It’s allowed me to work around chronic illness (endometriosis), to carve out and financially support time for my own writing, to build a thriving business of creative writing courses and workshops at affordable prices, to charge what I’m worth as an editor, and to evolve the shape of my life.
I’ve been able to skip the worst of recession through remote working, reduce food waste, manage stress breakdowns and support myself when housebound.
Being freelance enabled me to work around my kids – I’m lucky enough to have been able to walk them to and from school every day, get to their sports days and afternoon events, take them to their out of school activities, etc.
I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to share their childhood with them, when many parents I know aren’t able to.
I have a rebellious streak and little patience for corporate bulls***, which is why, ultimately, I had to get out of the regular world of work.
From an early age I knew I’d end up self-employed. I’m happier, more productive, more fulfilled and receive 100% reward for my hard work. No money in the world can make up for corporate politics.
Having worked in a corporate role, feeling massively undervalued and belittled, I suffered a burnout which meant three months of work.
I had time to re-evaluate what on earth I was doing and for what purpose, my children were pushed to the side as I fought for a career that was not actually serving me in any way.
I planned my exit and got a part-time role in a new industry, now I’m setting up a recruitment business.
I feel completely different: my confidence is returning and there’s no looking back.
Sarah Johnson, Flourish Retail
I became a freelancer mostly to work around my kids, I’m lucky I can be there before and after school. But what has really changed my life is that I can help other businesses.
Something which in the corporate retail world might have been standard practice, can have an instant impact for small brands and it’s amazing to see how my merchandising skills can help others.
I’m also now able to give back, helping other merchandisers come into the world of freelance, giving them the flexibility that I enjoy.
I’ve walked my kids to and from school most days, my eldest has just started high school. You can’t buy that time back.
But it has also allowed me to say ‘yes’ – to after-school clubs, friends round, activities in school and all kinds of different and interesting work.
I have done a bit of contract work following regular office hours and I’ve really noticed the lack of flexibility.
Freelancing makes our family work, it’s as simple as that!
Lucy Whitehall, Transform and Thrive
I always knew I would run my own business one day, after too many years on the corporate merry-go-round that led to burnout and depression.
I can now combine my experience and expertise from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines, instead of feeling boxed in by one dimensional descriptions of what I do and who I am.
I have a strong desire for autonomy, developing new business opportunities and earning my own money (vs lining the pockets of VC’s and corporates).
I feel like I can support my clients much more effectively now, using my own judgement rather than having to go through hurdles of decision making by people who may not necessarily know what they’re talking about or who feel they need to follow ‘process and procedure’.
The flexibility freelancing offers me almost goes without saying.
Many thanks to the members of the Freelance Lifestylers Facebook group for sharing their incredibly inspiring experiences, what an amazing bunch of people that goes to prove what huge talent there is out there in the freelance world.
If you’re a freelancer or thinking of taking the plunge, I’d highly recommend joining the group - it’s a really supportive forum that offers support, advice and just general pep talks whenever needed!