2017 was the most significant year in my career to date. In January 2017 I made a very difficult decision to hand in my notice at a Digital Marketing agency that I loved. I’d spent around 4 years working in a great place, achieving several promotions whilst working with amazing colleagues and high-profile clients but I had an itch. I wanted to do something different and challenge myself.
By April I was fully self-employed working under my limited company; LMc Digital Marketing. With just one client to my name, it was a big leap for me. Since then things have all been a bit of a whirlwind so I thought now is a good a time as any for a bit of reflection – and also to write a long overdue blog post!
2017 was filled with lots of highlights, and with that naturally comes a few low points, all of which have been great learnings for me.
Overcoming my fears & challenging myself
A few years ago, I would never have imagined working in isolation and being in full control of all decisions I make but at the start of last year something told me I could do this and can achieve what I wanted. Fast-forward to a year later, and I’m working with clients in a range of different industries on a retainer basis.
2018 will also start with a brand-new client for me which I’ve needed to employ two members of staff to fulfil the work. Signing with this client in December was one of my highlights of 2017.
Public speaking is something I’ve lacked confidence with but in May I was invited to an event to speak about PPC Advertising. It was fantastic to speak about my passion in front of lots of different businesses, and it got some great feedback so would say it was a successful first speaking event. Though, there are lots of things I wouldn’t do at the next one!
Realising health, family & friends are more important
I was quite lucky in my first few months to find myself with abundant work and was putting in 60+ hours a week but that came at a cost. I was running myself to the ground, and whilst quality of work wasn’t sacrificed I wasn’t switching off and it just wasn’t healthy.
At the same time, I had a little bit of a health scare (all fine) which made me sit back and realise what’s important. I’m now learning to get a good work/life balance and get a routine that allows me to enjoy both. Making time to do things I enjoy has been important as I started to cancel a lot of plans I’d made to work instead. I know block out time in my week and work around this, and not the other way round.
Learning to say no
As a new freelancer it is very easy to not turn down any work, and say yes to everything. I was definitely this person at the start, and though I still struggle a little bit to say no, I’ve turned down a couple of projects recently. The above point has helped with me being able to do this now and so has the next…
Working on projects I enjoy
One of the biggest benefits about working for yourself is that you have more flexibility in the types of work you take on. Before I started, I had an ideal client in my head, but this has developed quite a lot over the last few months and I’m now learning much more about the type of projects/clients I enjoy most, which ones are best for me and realising that for some there are others that can do it better than I can – something which I’ve now had the courage to tell prospective clients, and work with others in my network to still be able to help.
The range of different clients that I’ve worked on; agencies, SME’s, developed businesses, other freelancers, has helped me discover this and see where there is a gap for my skill set.
Realising that you’re not actually alone as a freelancer
My one fear of freelancing was that I’d feel alone and miss the office environment. However, that doesn’t have to be the case. I work out of the office of an agency which means I work independently but still benefit from interacting with others. There are loads of co-working spaces too, which I never realised.
Despite working from an office, there are still times that I’ve felt alone and not having colleagues to be able to help. It hasn’t happened often but sometimes I have ran into problems where I’ve needed some advice. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support available from other freelancers. My favourite network for this is the Freelance Heroes Facebook group. The community is incredible, and everyone is in the same boat so want to help others; freelancers are not all just competitors, which is something I’ve learnt.
I’m not one to set New Year Resolutions as such, but I’ve got a few loose things that I want to focus on this year:
- Get better at networking – When I first started out, I attended quite a few events but since I’ve got busy I haven’t made time to go to them so this year I want to pick this back up again and meet new people
- Write more – I’m not going to commit to doing a certain amount of blog posts as client work will always come first but I do want to get back writing blog posts this year – watch this space…
- Personal branding – Definitely something lacking at the minute… I had plans for this but again client work got in the way. A revised website, testimonials and logo are on the list to do very soon
- Speaking events and workshops – I had some events lined up but haven’t been able to commit the time so I need to pick this back up again
- Prioritising and managing my own time – One thing I need to get better at is prioritising my workload a little better and not doing the things I enjoy more first
Thanks for reading. Got any 2018 goals? Feel free to drop me a note below!