My Freelance Journey
This journal entry shares my journey into freelance living, eight months after I took the plunge. At the end of the post I write about my decision to start a Patreon page, where you can support my work through tiny monthly donations. Please read on for more information, and if you would like to support me in this way, just click the black button below. It really means a lot, so thank you!
It’s been eight months since I left full time employment and launched myself into freelance living. I used to work as creative developer at Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire, where I managed the marketing and events, and helped look after the animals. I absolutely loved it, but when my first book was published I decided I wanted to take the plunge and see if I could forge a freelance career for myself. I was 26, without offspring, and fairly free of responsibility - if I didn’t do it now, would I ever manage it? I left my job at the end of February 2018 and embarked on a freelance career in writing, art and environmentalism - and so far, I haven’t starved.
Have I enjoyed it? Yes, yes, YES. To wake up every day with your own schedule, your own to-do list and the power to pursue every creative project in your head is indescribably liberating. I’ve never felt more expressive and productive, and to be able to stop what I’m doing and just make biscuits, read a book or go for a walk is insane. But if anyone ever tells you freelancing is easy, do not be fooled. Yes, the dream of hanging out at home and tapping away on your laptop is real, but you’ll probably find yourself doing it 16 hours a day. Yes, my day is scheduled around coffee breaks - except I’m now so hooked on the stuff I’ve had to switch to decaf. The price you pay for working for yourself is hefty, although one that theoretically diminishes over time as you (hopefully) become more successful. The feast-or-famine stereotype is also spot on - one minute you’re rolling in money like a cash-crazed lunatic, the next, you can’t even afford to buy clothes from charity shops. There is no heavenly payslip waiting at the end of the month, so an empty bank balance means scrabbling together a desperate email callout to find more work.
Would I go back to employment? No way, José. I loved my old job at the farm, but there is nothing sweeter than working for yourself and, despite the stress and poverty, I absolutely love it. Having said that, it took me a good six months just to adapt to self-employment. I had to learn to discipline myself, structure my day, seek out work and plan ahead. For a long time I struggled to work out a daily routine - because I need a routine to achieve anything. I learnt how to deal with the 2pm brain fatigue and the desire to eat everything in the fridge. I also learnt how to diversify my income to make it as stable as possible. The nature of my work means that, unlike a graphic designer or session musician, I produce lots of different kinds of services, from books and magazine articles to illustrations and talks. I love being able to rely on so many different income streams, and it means my working week is never boring.
MY PATREON CAMPAIGN
Recently, I decided to start a Patreon campaign. Patreon is a website that allows artists, writers and creatives to gain support from their followers through tiny monthly donations. In exchange for this support, the artist shares exclusive nuggets that are unavailable elsewhere, as well as being a great way to communicate with likeminded people.
It took a while for me to commit to the idea - we live in a world where asking for financial support feels uncomfortable. But one morning I received a lovely email from somebody who had stumbled upon my website and asked if I would consider setting one up, and I was so touched at the suggestion that I thought, why not? After all, if Shakespeare hadn't been funded by patrons, what kind of prosaic world would we be living in?
Supporters can donate as little as $2 a month (that’s about £1.75), and in return I will be sharing exclusive inspirational nuggets that won't make it to this website. These will include sneak peeks at new projects and chapters, vegan recipes, discount codes, ethical living hacks, vlogs, illustrations, articles and other creative bites.
If you’re interested in supporting my campaign or finding out more, you can visit my Patreon page by clicking the black button below. All support is seriously appreciated, so thank you!
TIPS - WORKING FROM HOME
YOGA. Start your day right and the rest will follow. I practiced yoga for a year with an amazing lady in my town, but now it’s a luxury I can’t quite afford. Instead, I practice using the brilliant Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. Her videos are really easy to follow, and there are so many that you’re bound to find one that fits the time you have available. Even a 20 minute session each morning helps me feel relaxed, stay focused and make healthier choices for the rest of the day.
WATER. It’s so easy just to drink tea and coffee all day, particularly as the preparation process is such a tempting distraction from real work. But both tea and coffee are diuretics, which mean they make you need the toilet and dehydrate your body. Drinking a shit load of water is the best way to tackle this while fuelling mind and body, meaning you can still enjoy your beverages without shrivelling up. Just be prepared for a hundred trips to the bathroom.
SPACE. If you’re like me and a little above average height, you might suffer from back pains. I am extremely prone to a bad back, but only if I treat my body badly and sit in a terrible position. After far too long working from a slumped angle on the sofa, I finally invested in a second hand desk and office chair for the corner of our lounge. It’s a tight squeeze, but the change has been amazing. My work space is now posture-friendly, my back pain is gone and my productivity has soared. We’re moving house soon and then I’ll have a proper studio - hooray!
BREAKS. Your mind knows when it’s had enough, and trying to power through when your brain is against you is such a waste of energy. If you’re getting fidgety, bored or slow, do something different. Go for a bike ride, visit the shop, make a cake - even just unloading the dishwasher refreshes me enough to carry on afterwards.