A Raw Insight Into My Freelance Journey

my freelance journey

In the last few months I have had quite a few messages from fellow and aspiring freelancers asking for tips and advice. The most common question I get is how did you get to where you are? Every day I remind myself of how far I have come and how lucky I am to have this lifestyle, but getting to this point was no walk in the park.

I have had to make sacrifices, dealt with stress and money issues, and experienced times where it felt like everything might fall apart. I want to share my journey in great detail, in the hope that it not only inspires others but also gives some perspective on being freelance. It’s certainly not for everyone. Here’s my freelance story and some things I have discovered along the way.

Making the decision to go freelance

This is the hardest part. You might be in a very well paid job, with promising prospects, but that’s no use if you don’t enjoy what you do. Leaving a secure job to take the plunge into the freelance world is tough. Every single sensible thought in your mind will tell you to stay where you are, not take such a huge risk and stay safe. The fear of the unknown is what stops a lot of people from following their freelance dreams.

I was climbing the digital marketing ladder, and after starting out as an SEO executive, I had got a job as Head of SEO, and eventually Head of Content. I thought I wanted to be super successful, earn lots of money and have a high flying job.

However, as I got to know myself, went through difficult times and figured out what really makes me tick, I realised perhaps being a Marketing Manager for a huge agency or multinational company wasn’t for me. I had got into the content marketing side of things, which I enjoyed, but I didn’t enjoy working for someone else, and in a highly stressful agency environment.

I had to reach rock bottom before I could finally see clearly. I got so miserable and stressed at work that I developed severe anxiety, couldn’t cope, and eventually got signed off work by my doctor. It felt like everything I had worked hard for was crumbling in front of me, and my confidence took a nose dive.

A lot of people I worked with didn’t support me and just didn’t understand what I was going through at all. Part of my stress came from being promoted to a new role, whilst also having to continue to do my old role (from what I have heard, unfortunately this happens a lot). It’s like oh hey congrats you have got a promotion, now you get to do two people’s jobs.

The other reason I was in such a bad way was simply because I didn’t enjoy my job, and had no motivation to do it anymore. It was like a switch went off in my head and I was like, nope, can’t do this anymore, this isn’t for me.

So really I have to be thankful for these dark times, because they forced me to do something. When I decided to hand in my notice a lot of family and friends were like what the friggin hell are you doing, why would you throw away such a good job? If people say this to you, ignore them, you can make your own decisions and mistakes.

After handing in my notice

I was sort of lucky that I had to give three months’ notice, so it gave me time to clear my head and get a strategy together. Then when I finally left I had a plan and lots of contacts to get in touch with. I definitely think my five years working in digital marketing has helped me hugely as a freelance writer.

I’d recommend getting a qualification in something, specialising in a particular topic or becoming an expert on one particular topic if you can. For example, I specialise in travel because I have experience working in the travel sector, and my marketing background also gives me a competitive edge. I also have qualifications in canine behaviour, which makes me an expert on anything dog related. All these little things help make you more appealing.

I’m not a qualified journalist, but I have knowledge in all things digital including SEO, content marketing, social media and video marketing. I went through all my contacts and got in touch with anyone I thought might be able to help me.

Initially I thought I would be working with the company I left on a freelance basis, which made me feel more confident in leaving, but that actually didn’t work out. However, I quickly found a few other clients instead and got the ball rolling.

The first year being freelance

The first year was not easy. It was scary, and I spent a lot of time doubting myself and my decision. You go from having a reliable salary and getting paid on the same day of the month, to not always knowing when and how much you will be paid.

It got to a point around six months in when I simply wasn’t earning enough to cover my rent and expenses. Bad times. I had to make the awful decision to move out of the lovely bungalow by the sea I lived with my boyfriend in, and go crawling back home to my mum.

I knew I needed a bit of time to build up my clients and reputation before I could earn enough to live comfortably. Not having enough money to survive is extremely stressful and soul destroying. I had swapped the stress of working in a job I hated to the stress of not earning enough money, you can decide which is worse.

So I moved back with my mum and worked my ass off. I fought hard to earn more so that I could live with my boyfriend again. We didn’t want to live apart, we were just forced too, and it was the most testing time in our relationship. However, my boyfriend knew that I had to see this through and supported me every step of the way.

We eventually ended up moving back together but we chose to live with another couple to save money. This gave the opportunity to carry on my business whilst also being able to live with my boyfriend again. My business was starting to really grow and things were looking up.

Part time jobs

I have had to do a few part time jobs along the way in order to allow me to earn enough and keep doing my writing. I also took on a part time role as the Marketing Manager for a car leasing company. I did three days a week there and two days freelance. In the end though, I decided to leave because although it was giving me a more steady income, I didn’t have enough time to complete all my freelance work.

Doing part time jobs helped me through the tough times, but in the end the stopped me being able to grow my business. It was after quitting the part time marketing job that things really started to improve. I was super focused and my confidence was growing. It was nice knowing that I had enough freelance work to leave a well-paid part time job.

Two years in

I would say it took a good couple of years before I really felt comfortable with the amount of work coming in. I have never had no work to do, and after things go quiet for a week or so, they always pick back up again. I have to remind myself not to panic when business slows a little, because I have always found a way to speed it up again.

Onwards and upwards

Nowadays things are going pretty darn well. As you can see from reading my story, going freelance certainly comes with its ups and downs. You will be tested and pushed to your limit, you will have times where you think the world might end, but it never does. As I mentioned earlier, being freelance isn’t for everyone.

It’s quite lonely, you have to be disciplined and extremely motivated. There will be really tough and stressful times, but at the end of the day, it’s so worth it. I wouldn’t swap my job for the world, and even though it’s not been an easy ride, I don’t regret a thing. I literally adore what I do, and not many people can say that. Going freelance is the best decision I have ever made.

A few tips and reflections

I was quite lucky that when I decided to go freelance I didn’t have too many commitments, aside from paying my rent. Obviously when there’s kids and mortgages involved you have to be more cautious, but that doesn’t mean you can’t follow your dreams.

If you are thinking of going freelance I would suggest trying to build up some business on the side before you leave your job. It might be extremely hard work for a little while, but it will help give you your best start. If you have the opportunity to go part time and do a few days a week working on your own business then go for it.

Here are my top tips for going freelance:

  • Do you research first, research your industry.
  • Build up clients before you leave your job if you can.
  • Specialise in something unique that will give you the edge over your competitors.
  • Make the most of your work experience so far and utilise all your contacts. Don’t be afraid to ask for a few favours.
  • Consider a part time job whilst you are freelancing initially, and then as business grows you can leave and focus on your work.

I hope you found this post helpful. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions below. Here’s a video about my journey that you might like to watch.




  1. May 15, 2016 / 7:45 pm

    Hi Kiri,
    Great article! I hope that this inspires others to make the leap. Yes, it is scary, and yes, there are challenges, but that does not mean that we should settle for being a cog in the machine of someone else’s dream.
    I am a software developer / marketer / entrepreneur, and it is my goal and passion to build technology which enables more to make the leap to freelance, and to make more $$$ when they do. With the rise of content marketers, the value of great writing that engages users is being recognized, and we can increasingly tie a dollar amount to that value. Great writers such as yourself ought to be able to capture more of that value.
    I’d love to talk to you about what I’m up to, and I also have a couple of tips which I think can help immediately. Check my profile, connect if you’re interested, and I’ll reach out.

    All the best,

  2. August 1, 2016 / 4:31 pm

    There are a lot of articles out there about going freelance, but this is one of the most honest, genuine and actually inspirational ones I’ve ever read. Thanks for sharing your experience and for not sugar-coating it! I’ll be bookmarking this and coming back to it as I carry on with my own freelancing aspirations.

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