What I've Learnt So Far...

The first step of my self-employed journey, similar to many others, began after I registered on the HRMC site. And as underwhelming as this seemed, sitting alone at home on my laptop, it was the push that I needed to finally make that decision to become a freelancer, and ultimately make it work! Although I still consider myself a 'new starter', some of the things I've learnt in the last few years really have opened my eyes to the ‘freelancer career’.


The beauty of being your own boss means you can determine your work hours but this also includes organising your down time too. Something I discovered early on was the discipline and enthusiasm I had to get out there and get working, didn't translate to my days off. Setting boundaries and giving yourself the breaks you need can be more challenging than you think. I've found ironically scheduling or booking in my days off in the diary was one of the best ways to ensure they actually happened. Despite striving to be a successful ‘workaholic’ there's also no shame in staying in bed all day on a Tuesday. Initially for me it was a guilt complex. My thoughts were "well everyone else is working on a Tuesday- I should be out there trying to find work too". But remember holiday pay/ sick pay is not really a thing when you're paying yourself a salary. So not taking adequate time off could ultimately affect your health later on down the line. I'd much rather have a well timed day off than an unavoidable sick day that affects a booking or scheduled job.


I am a converted believer that your work life and home life should be kept separate as much as you can. I realise ‘working from home’ or having a ‘home office’ somewhat juxtaposes this, however even walking from one room to the other, or sitting down at a dedicated desk space can help create that balance. Don’t get me wrong- I love a ‘working from bed’ day but I have to admit they are never my most productive. (These quite commonly occur during my "days off") It is a perk of being a photographer- you can often work anywhere- but making the decision to make this 'anywhere' a station other than my bedroom definitely helped to boost my motivation and productivity. Getting up, getting dressed and sticking to more traditional working hours (where possible) really helps give structure to my days. And when cabin fever is setting in there's always a local coffee shop for you to set up base in for a few hours!


With the decision to become self employed came the pressure to “make it work.” This pressure may not have come from anywhere in particular - admittedly mainly from my own head - but it was looming there nonetheless. However running a business requires a little bit of capital- none more so than at the very beginning. And without millionaire investors knocking at your door this money is most likely coming from your own pocket. I actually found it refreshing to discover that freelancers often take on more work, part time or zero hour contracts for example, that then enable them to also work on their own projects. Initially this concept troubled me- if I wasn't working as a photographer full time was I really a photographer? The answer is yes of course and things don't happen overnight. Working different jobs - photography and non-photography related actually makes my work life so much more interesting and exciting. There is no shame in working hard! Your career and your journey is exactly that, ”yours'. I began to think of these jobs as investments into my business. Any money I made from these temporary jobs enable me to keep my photography going and grow the business further. And of course- every moment is a networking moment right?!


Imposter syndrome is defined as, "a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a "fraud". Sound familiar? Photography for me was always a hobby and something I simply enjoyed to do and share with other people. The fact that people are now paying me to do this often triggers those fraudulent feelings. Best way to overcome this? Have confidence in yourself. Prove to yourself that you can do it and do it well. Clients hire you for a reason and be grateful in the fact you enjoy what you do. People are not stupid- they believe in your work enough to employ you, so you should feel the same. There's definitely comfort in the fact this is a recognised and common practice in the workplace- but don't let it impede on your work. If all else fails- fake it 'til you make it!