It’s been three months since I made the decision to go freelance, becoming a full-time blogger and running Apartment Number 4 as a serious business, and even though it wasn’t the jump I necessarily thought I was ready to take at that point in time, it’s been a life-changing three months.
I juggled this blog alongside a 9-5 job for 8 years, working most evenings and weekends on creating new content for my online space. I knew I always wanted to run Apartment Number 4 as a business, but I have to be honest and say until the day came when someone gave me the kick I needed, I would never have been brave enough to take that next step by myself
I think the universe knew this, and after my department from work was closed and I was made redundant, I had the breathing space – and fortunately the financial cushion – to really sit and plan whether this was something I could do properly. Could I take that next step into the unknown?
It took a week for me to realise, it was now or never.
It hasn’t come without its lessons though. Yes, every day I wake up and thank the universe for sending me on this path, but I’m also going to admit some aspects are really tough, especially at first.
Don’t Rely on Invoices Being Paid
As I mentioned above, I was fortunate to have a financial buffer when I started my freelance career, and my god has it helped. I’ve had to manage cash flow in a way like never before, because trust me when I say, sometimes your invoice isn’t as important to the brand you’ve worked with as it is you. And I’ve come to peace with that. I knew my mindset around money (getting panicked very easily when a payment was late) needed to change when I started this business, and I think having a financial buffer system has made that a lot easier. Yes, I might be waiting for invoices from March to be paid, but they’ll come. And in the meantime, I’ll work hard on attracting more opportunities to make that money up. Just don’t ever, ever rely on being paid by someone else. And always have three months wage in the bank regardless.
The Loneliness is Real
I went from working in an office environment with seven good friends to working completely alone. And it’s a hard adjustment to make. Especially as I live alone too. I’m trying to combat this by working in cafe’s, libraries and meeting other freelancers in the area that I know. I miss being able to bounce ideas around or ask someone else’s opinion, but I’m certainly getting better. Plus, the great thing about working alone is that it’s pushing me to get out of the house and try different things – I even go to the gym a few times a week now for human interaction. I know right!
Get A Support Network
Following on from this, one of the most important things you need to work on when you take the jump into running your own empire is, get a support network of amazing people around you. I have so many people – both IRL and online – that are incredibly supportive of what I’m trying to build. They understand my passion and are genuinely happy to help. I have friends that share my content, I have Twitter friends that retweet my business ideas, I have so many amazing people in my life in some way or another that are helping me in their own way. But be sure to reciprocate the same support though. I’m always happy to help any entrepreneur looking for a hand when launching their own dream – just hit a girl up on Twitter or email and I’ll do anything I can, from an opinion, a contact or even some guidance in case I’ve been there and bought the t-shirt.
Think Out of the Box
When you run your own business, you quickly learn to think outside of the box when it comes to revenue streams. Every conversation, every email you receive, they’re all potential leads to creating an amazing collaboration. I knew that, although I could make money from my blog, I needed to consider other ways to build Apartment Number 4 into a business – hence the launch of 4 Magazine, my online interior design service, and freelance clients I have on board now managing their blogs and social media. Sit for an hour or so and brainstorm other ways you could utilise the skills you have (great organisation skills, for example, mean you could be a fantastic Virtual Assistant) to make sure you have money coming into the bank.
Networking is a Must
I used to despise networking. Genuinely, I would do anything I could to get out of going to a networking event and making small talk. But as I’ve grown older, become slightly more confident and realised just how beneficial it is to meet with your peers, I try to network at least once a month. I’ve signed up for a freelancers networking event on a Friday afternoon and I’m also making sure, now I’m full-time, I visit brands much more frequently in London to forge those key relationships in person, rather than email all the time.
You Won’t Want to “Switch Off”
There’s a big difference between working all hours for your employer and working all hours for yourself. I understand how important it is to switch off mentally from working, but when your work is your passion, you might not want to. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting to work on your dream. I’m not saying survive on 3 hours sleep a night, but if what you’re doing makes you happy then carry on. There were so many times I wish I’d taken my laptop on holiday, so I could sit whilst the sun was too hot in the afternoon to edit some pictures. But I felt like if I took it with me, people would think I was unable to unwind. The difference is, I wake up every day being grateful for doing this job, so I really missed being able to do it.
A Morning Routine Will Set You Up for The Day
Working for yourself means motivation needs to be high. If you’re the sort of person that waits for opportunities to come knocking, then running your own thing won’t work. You have to get up every single day and hustle. Every. Single. Day. A good morning routine is the perfect way to set yourself up for that. I’ve finally figured out a good rhythm, which consists of my 30-minute miracle morning routine, going to the gym for an hour, before getting ready for the day, having a protein-filled breakfast and being in my office for 9.30am. I feel motivated from the get-go and find myself being so much more creative than I was when I just got up and put some leggings and a t-shirt on, hair in a pineapple on my head and sat on the sofa trying to work.
Setting Financial Goals is Important
If I’m completely honest, for the last three months I’ve been floating along one day to the next not really knowing what my next move was. When you’re self-employed you don’t have performance reviews. You don’t have targets to hit to secure that pay rise. But, I knew how much I needed to make to pay my bills. Last week I decided to get serious about things and I worked out everything I needed to be doing to hit a certain salary for the year, which not only allows me to pay the bills, but invest back into Apartment Number 4, pay my student loan, have savings and pay into my pension pot every month. Having those financial goals written out, really allowed me to see where my focus now needs to be and how often I need to be pitching etc. The universe definitely picked up on this intention because as soon as I’d pinned my goal sheet up and started concentrating on how I was going to make it happen, potential work avenues appeared almost instantly in my inbox.
Be Careful Not to Lose the Love
One of the biggest shifts I noticed when I took my blog from hobby to career, was that I began to look at it differently. I started to see every single thing as potential revenue, and the pressure to create content lost its spark because I had deadlines to hit and affiliates to add in. That was the last thing I wanted to happen. For those that have successfully taken their blog full time, you’ll know that there’s a certain pressure to slot paid content into your schedule, whilst retaining the same tone of voice and balancing it with your own creative input. You lose the feeling of being able to write what you want when you want. But I feel like now, I’m back on an even keel and have got the love for blogging firmly back – hence this incredibly long post. Just remember why you started blogging in the first place, and also remember that the brands which want to work with you, want to because of the content you’ve created in the past. Just keep writing about what you truly love and feel passionate about, and the work will come.
You’ll Enjoy Every Single Day One Way or Another
When people ask me how I’m getting on now I’m working for myself, my instant reply is “I feel like I’m living a different life” and it’s true. Without sounding totally cringe-worthy, I genuinely wake up every day being grateful for doing something I love. Of course, there are stresses, there’s no guaranteed income and there’s no one to pay my rent but me, but there have been points where I could have genuinely cried over how content I am with my life after years of trying to fit this blog into every other spare hour I had away from my 9-5. I’m doing something I’m this passionate about every single day, and it’s worth all the other stresses and lessons I’m learning along the way.
Do you run your own business? Or have you thought about becoming a full-time blogger one day? I’d love to hear more about your entrepreneur goals!