Much like the other thousands of 2013 graduates, I left University feeling optimistic and positive about starting my career in journalism. I assumed I would find a job in journalism due to my degree, but I very quickly realised the job market was very different to my naïve assumptions. I had expected a struggle, knowing that good career opportunities were few and far between, but nothing prepared me for the reality. I applied for jobs in my field, I applied for internships, I applied for jobs that had nothing to do with my degree. I applied for nearly every job I could find, while continuing with part time work I did throughout University.
After 9 months, I decided to take matters into my own hands and become my own boss. In recent years, the amount of self-employed people in Britain has gone up as more people tire of the rat race and invest in their passion. I am now working full time as a freelance journalist and am very happy with my decision. I find my work rewarding and a lot of fun. And being able to choose your own hours is a great bonus!
However, moving from working for someone else to working for yourself can be a very difficult transition. Here are some great tips to remember for when you first become self-employed!
Do something you love
Make sure whatever you’re thinking about doing, you love it – or at least like it! You will be doing this day in, day out for (hopefully) a long time. At the beginning, when financial insecurity and long hours run rife, the enjoying your work can be the only thing that keeps you going. Doing something you love as a job can be the best decision of your life, but if you don’t really enjoy your work, you could end up regretting your decision.
Be willing to work hard
This one is pretty obvious. At the start, the hours are likely to be longer and the financial reward can be very low – or none existent. Stick at it, and know once you have established yourself you will see the hard work pay off.
Have a positive attitude
Becoming self-employed took a lot longer than I expected. Once you start working for yourself, there can be a few uncertain months. After one month of being a freelance journalist, my laptop broke. I was distraught, I cried, I shouted, but I didn’t give up. You WILL encounter road blocks and problems, but how you deal with them could make or break your chance at self-employment.
Keep your friends and family around you
This ties in with the last one. I owe my sister and my best friend lots for supporting me during my first few months of self-employment. I mean supporting in all terms of the word; physically when I was having a laptop related breakdown, financially when I couldn’t afford food, and emotionally when I needed to (endlessly) question my decision. Surround yourself with your loved ones; they will drink wine with you when you want to de-stress, and sometimes give you the push you need to keep going.
Have some savings
For me, this is the most useful tip. I started out with no savings and it was a nightmare – my under planning left me hungry quite a few times! Expect not to make money initially, so have some savings to pad that area out.
Use social media to advertise
Free advertising is a great way to establish yourself in the beginning. Whether you want to be a successful journalist, builder, make up artist, or you’re selling homemade jewellery on eBay, social media is a great way to get started. At no cost, you can let all of your friends and family know about your career change. You never know who will give you a news story or needs some work done on their house!
Register as self employed
Maybe this is obvious, but go online and register as self-employed online. As you will be paying your own taxes, it’s important to get this sorted straight away so you don’t end up with any extra stress.
Enjoy becoming self-employed and your new career!