5 October 2017

I tried to go freelance, and I failed

I tried to go freelance, and I failed
Time to sit down and grab a cuppa - this is a bit of a storytime post and I'm *hoping* to avoid the waffle but it's gonna be tricky. Mostly because I've avoided ever airing this in public and I'm still trying to procrastinate it with every little thing I possibly can (even this intro tbh). BUT, it's an important thing to talk about. 

Failure is 100% a taboo subject in our world really. There's so much pressure to ace your social life, exams, career, etc that admitting that things went wrong and that they were your fault is genuinely tough. I for one know that this is a topic I avoid at all costs because I honestly feel humiliated to have to say that I tried my best at something and it still wasn't good enough. I've felt like everyone has been progressing without this genuine failure, so this post is for everyone who's gone through a similar thing. Failure happens, and whilst the 'F' word is hella scary, it's okay, and you're always going to learn something from it.

Let's wind back to just over 18 months ago. My mental health was getting worse. The January blues had set in (why is January such a shit month?!) and my shift pattern at my minimum wage job meant that I was working 2-10pm 5 days a week. I couldn't eat dinner - part of a routine that really helps to ground me - and the hours were unsociable and isolating. Things were starting to go downhill. So I quit

I'd been doing little bits and bobs of freelance work writing and editing on the side, so I decided 'fuck it: let's put my mental health first and give this freelance thing a real go'. However, although my determination to go freelance full time was pretty darn strong, it was a new wave of passion. So, I was starting this freelance period with no real contacts, no business plan (hell, I didn't even think I needed one), no budgeting system, no website or portfolio to show, no idea what I was doing really.

It was massively naive. But, I was supported financially by those who loved me whilst I pursued my dream and attempted to make sense of the world I had dived right into. Looking back, I can see that it was going to be a disaster from the outset. But at the time? I had a lot of hope.

Over the course of the next six months that hope got chipped away at over and over again. I lost a client because I refused to work with someone who was racist to POC. I got conned out of £500 worth of work. I wrote things at an unliveable wage just to get that extra bit of money in. I took on every blog opportunity that was suggested to me, no matter what it was. My dream had failed, but I didn't want to give up on it. 

When I hit the six month mark I really had to re-evaluate things. My life was a mess and my dream was dead. But in reality, I was the one that massacred it. For a while I lost confidence in my writing ability, and as I was solely working from home I became more isolated. I eventually realised that my mental health was starting to go downhill again. 

I guess what I'm really trying to say is learn from my mistakes. If you want to go freelance, make sure you've thought about it. Make sure you're earning enough money to live on before you give up your job to pursue it. Once you've stopped getting that monthly paycheck it's too late to start building things up; you already need a structure in place. Create a business plan. Work out how much you need to earn each week and whether it really is a viable option.

I honestly don't regret those six months of my life. It was tough and yes, it's pretty awkward to explain to new employers why I have a six month gap on my CV. But it taught me so much. I invested time into learning how to really blog properly. I discovered what a DA was, created my Pinterest, started making Youtube videos and learnt about all the nitty gritty things you never really have time to look into. I learnt the value of having a regular pay check. Most of all, I had a much needed break from life. I was working for myself, by myself and in so many ways it was utter bliss. I went straight from school to uni to work, and although these six months marked my failure in one aspect of life, they gave me time to reflect and summon the courage to face the future.

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13 comments:

  1. I have been there and failed as well. It felt terrible, but I'm happy you have put it so nicely in words- that really was the time to learn new things and go for a dream and hey, just as you said, you'll be so much better prepared next time. I'm proud of you!

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    1. I think the hardest part of it all was accepting that I'd failed for sure. Thank you so much

      Steph x

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  2. Thanks for sharing this, Steph. I can definitely understand why it's hard to talk about, but you shouldn't see it as a failure! It was a brave, bold move to strike out on your own, it takes real courage to go freelance imo, and it didn't work out but it taught you some really important things. So it wasn't a failure. I've often thought about going freelance, but I don't think I could cope without a monthly pay check! x www.aimeeraindropwrites.co.uk x

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    1. Thank you so much. It was really hardgoing on my anxiety not having a secure income, and I really wouldn't recommend it unless you had a steady stream coming in

      Steph x

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  3. As much as it may seem like a failure, I'm sure you've learnt a hell of a lot because of it! Plus, I think you're amazing for having the courage to go out there and actually give something a try! So good on you for that :)

    Melissa x

    www.memoriesandmishapsblog.wordpress.com

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    1. I did learn quite a few things. Thank you sweet!

      Steph x

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  4. Reading back about your experience, it doesn't come across as "failure" at all, really. It gave you a much-needed break from the 9-5 working world and time to develop new skills - and I'm so glad you stuck to your guns and refused to work with that racist client!

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Lis / last year's girl x

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    1. I was desperate for work, but it just wouldn't be me to work with someone whose ethics I disagree with!

      Steph - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

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  5. Steph this post is amazing! Im so glad you've spoken about this, as not enough people do! <3 You've done amazing, you've learned, and you're stronger.
    xx

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    1. Thank you Jemma, that means so much! I'm glad I did it, but I wouldn't recommend it haha

      Steph x

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  6. I must admit, I freelance and I love it. I have no regrets about going freelance at all - but it's certain been a learning curve. I know what it's like to work hard ad try my best at something and yet it's not good enough, it's not a nice feeling, and it's something I've experienced in my previous jobs.

    To be honest, I don't ever want to go back to a 9-5 job but I am considering part-time work, but like I said, I don't regret going freelance and I feel as though this is the right path for me.

    However, I'm glad that you've spoken about 'failing' at freelancing. It's hard work and I've noticed people tend to give a more positive review of it instead of speaking about the realities.

    Chichi
    chichiwrites.com

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    1. It totally works for lots of people, and I'd be lying if I said I don't wish it had worked for me! I'm so glad it's going ell for you

      Steph x

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  7. I hope everything is going good and thank you for the advice. Keep it up and definitely don't stop doing what you love x

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I read each and every one of your comments, and really appreciate the time you've taken to add them! If you want or need a more immediate response then contact me through my twitter @stephhartley4. Thank you!